In the top five leagues in Europe, only two teams have conceded more shots on their goal than Aston Villa this season. 170 shots against, which is approximately just under 16 shots per 90 minutes.
It is safe to say that the Villans’ defence isn’t the most secure in the Premier League and Liverpool will be keen to exploit the gaps when they can tomorrow afternoon.
The Reds won’t have everything go their own way, though. Especially at Villa Park, Dean Smith’s side are pretty dominant on the ball, having averaged 57% possession in their six home matches in all competitions so far this campaign.
It must be said that they haven’t faced a top-six team at home yet, but they are likely to go toe to toe with Liverpool, which could play into the hands of Jurgen Klopp’s side with their pace in behind on the counter-attack.
The Merseysiders have had to cope with teams, both home and away, sitting deep against them this season, and this necessitates pushing your defensive line higher up and controlling the game in the opposition half.
However, if Villa don’t play with a low block, as expected, it may actually cause Liverpool more problems simply because they are not used to teams taking them on.
As we saw on the opening day against Norwich City, the Canaries were brave in how they set up, and they were rewarded with a number of opportunities as they broke through the Reds’ high line.
Villa have technically proficient players like Jack Grealish and John McGinn who can ride tackles and carry the ball forward. Preventing these midfielders from getting on the ball will be a key focus for Klopp as otherwise Liverpool’s backline could be exposed.
Going forward, though, the likes of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah should get some joy on the flanks. Villa’s fullbacks Frederic Guilbert and Matt Targett are likely to play high up the pitch to get involved in attacks and they could be caught out if Villa lose the ball and are unable to track their runners on the counter-attack.
Of course, there is always a possibility that Dean Smith opts for a far more conservative approach. His team did play deep and hold out for long periods when they were 1-0 up against Spurs on the opening day, but that was away from home.
At Villa Park, there will be a bit more pressure to take the game to the league leaders, and it could result in an all-action contest tomorrow.