Aston Villa v Liverpool: Title favourites impossible to oppose

Liverpool Manager. Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, hoping to be celebrating again on Saturday

Liverpool visit Villa Park on Saturday afternoon intent on maintaining their healthy lead in the Premier League. Can Dean Smith's men scupper Klopp's title aspirations? Steve Rawlings takes a look...

“The chances are that Liverpool will find a way to extend their unbeaten run and they’re a fair price to take all three points at around 1.384/11 but I’m happy to back them at odds-against in a couple of other markets.”

Aston Villa v Liverpool
Saturday 2 November 15:00

Premier League new boys have turned the corner

After a Premier League absence of two years, comparisons between Aston Villa and relegated Fulham were understandably drawn before the season began.

Like Fulham the season before, Villa secured their passage to the Premier League via the playoffs, and just like Fulham, the Villains spent big before the season began but unlike Fulham, Villa conducted their business in a quick and methodical fashion and it looks like paying off.

Villa lost their first two Premier League games and they managed just one win in their first seven back in the top-flight but back-to-back wins, 6-1 away at Norwich and 2-1 at home to Brighton, have seen them turn the corner and they were far from disgraced last week, losing 3-0 at the Etihad to Manchester City.

The home side did miss a couple of clear chances in the first half but Villa gave a good account of themselves and but for a very early second half strike by Raheem Sterling, they may well have troubled the champions further. Tyrone Mings, on loan last season and a £20 million summer signing from Bournemouth, again suggested he could comfortably play in a top-six side and in Jack Grealish, they have a midfielder of undeniable quality.

Tyrone Mings.jpg

Understandably, it's taken a little while for Dean Smith's men to find their feet but having been matched at a low of 2.3811/8 to make an immediate return to the Championship, their form is improving and their price is rising in the Relegation market.

Liverpool are grinding like champions

After a brilliant start to their Premier League campaign, Liverpool are now odds-on favourites to win their first Premier League title but one could argue their most recent results have been better than their performances.

Given the number of changes made to the team, there's little point in analysing the Reds' victory on penalties against Arsenal on Wednesday night in the League Cup, following a quite bizarre 5-5 draw in which they equalised in injury time, but it was the latest in a serious of matches in which they've arguably got more than they've deserved or at least, looked like getting.

A goalkeeping howler gifted them the win at Bramall Lane a month ago, when newly-promoted, Sheffield United, felt they deserved at least a point, before a hotly-disputed injury time penalty gave them the three points at home to Leicester, and they rescued a point at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, thanks to a late equaliser by Adam Lallana, that never really looked like coming.

Spurs took the lead at Anfield last weekend and hit the bar early on in the second half but the Reds fought back brilliantly after that with a 52nd minute Jordan Henderson equaliser before Sadio Mane earned his side another arguably soft penalty with 15 minutes remaining. Mo Salah dispatched the spot kick and once again, the three points went Liverpool's way.

Mane-Liverpool-1280.jpg

There was no luck involved last week. Although Spurs were leading at half time, Liverpool were the better side throughout and even when they haven't been at their brilliant best of late, their ability to grind out results when the chips are down is the hallmark of champions.

Infogol's forecast was that Liverpool would finish second before the season began and they still expect them to finish behind the reigning champions but with City's injuries mounting up, I'd be in no rush to lay the Reds, even at odds-on.

Visitors fancied but both teams likely to find the net

Liverpool very much have the ascendancy in this fixture. They've lost just one of their last 18 visits to Villa Park (W12, D5) and they've won their last five by an aggregate score of 13-1.

The Reds are also unbeaten in their last 27 Premier League games, they've won their last 13 against promoted sides, and Villa have won just four of their 38 Premier League games against teams starting the day at the top of the table. They may have turned the corner but those stats suggest we shouldn't be in any sort of rush to back them at a single-figure price here.

Whether they're at their best or not on Saturday, the chances are that Liverpool will find a way to extend their unbeaten run and they're a fair price to take all three points at around 1.384/11 in the outright market but I'm happy to back them at odds-against in a couple of other markets.

Liverpool have conceded in each of their last six in all competitions, in their last three Premier League matches, and in eight of their ten Premier League games to date and Villa have managed to find the net in eight of their ten Premier League matches this season. They drew a blank at the Etihad last Saturday but they created chances and they're bound to again on Saturday in front of their own fans. Liverpool to win and both teams to score at around 2.89/5 looks fair and I'm also going to chance the visitors in the Half Time/Full Time market...

The Reds led at the break in each of their first six Premier League games this season but it's been all change since. Sheffield United kept them at bay until the second half and while they were leading 1-0 at home to Leicester three games ago, they've been trailing 1-0 in each of their last two at the break and whether it's even worth mentioning, given all the changes to the team, they were also trailing at half time on Wednesday night against Arsenal.

Given they've scored just one first half goal in their last four in the Premier League, I'm happy to chance Draw/Liverpool and given they've trailed at the break in each of their last two matches, I'm also happy to have a tiny wager on Aston Villa/Liverpool at a juicy price.

2019/20 P/L

Staked: 19.75 pts
Returned: 11.64 pts
P/L: - 8.11 pts

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