Premier League

Aston Villa-Liverpool Preview

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he expects Steven Gerrard to eventually take charge of his former club as the Reds prepare to host Aston Villa on Saturday.

Gerrard took the reigns from the dismissed Dean Smith at Villa Park and has won three of his opening four games.

Villa, however, next travel to Liverpool - who are just a point off leaders Manchester City - and unsurprisingly much of the focus has been on Reds legend Gerrard returning.

"Yes, I think, absolutely - the only problem is when is the right moment for that?" Klopp said of Gerrard. "Stevie's doing really well, he's very young from a manager's point of view.

"So it's about when he takes the job, not that he's not able to do it, but when does he want to do it? Those are questions I can't answer but yes, I think it will definitely happen and it will be good for everybody.

"I'm not the right person to answer that. It's not up to me to make those kind of decisions, I don't know what you have to do before you become Liverpool manager.

"Everything Stevie has done so far looks good and is going in the right direction. I cannot see a scenario where I am involved in that decision, but who knows what the future will bring!"

Gerrard, who appeared 710 times for Liverpool, is also looking forward to his return to Anfield.

"The noise is for other people to get excited about, for me it's about preparing the team in the best way I can to try and get a positive result for Aston Villa," Gerrard said.

"Everyone in that stadium will know me well enough to know what I'm about and what I'm going to Anfield for.

"I'm going back to a club where I spent many years and it brings a smile to my face for a couple of reasons."

Liverpool - Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah has either scored or assisted a goal in 13 consecutive Premier League games, setting up Divock Origi's late winner against Wolves last time out. It's the second longest run of consecutive games with a goal involvement in the competition's history, after Jamie Vardy's run of 15 between August and December 2015.

Aston Villa - Ollie Watkins

Ollie Watkins found the net in Gerrard's first two games in charge, and given he netted a hat-trick against Liverpool last term, he could be the key for the Villans' success.

·Liverpool lost eight of their first 12 Premier League games in 2021 (W3 D1), failing to score on seven occasions in that run. Since then, the Reds have scored in all 25 of their Premier League games and lost just once (W18 D6).

·With an expected goals against total of 18.6, Aston Villa (24 goals conceded) have shipped just over five goals more than expected based on the quality of chances they've faced - only Norwich and Crystal Palace have more this season. However, the Villans have also scored (21) around five more than their xG suggests (16.2), with only Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham over performing more this term.

·Aston Villa have won three of their four Premier League games under Steven Gerrard (L1), as many as they had in 11 games under Dean Smith this season (D1 L7). Gerrard is looking to be the first Villa manager to win his first two Premier League away games in charge of the club since John Gregory (first 5 in 1998).

·Aston Villa against Liverpool has been won by the away side on 20 occasions in the Premier League, with only Manchester City vs Manchester United (21) seeing more away wins in the competition's history.

·Only Arsenal against Liverpool (6) has seen more hat-tricks scored than Aston Villa vs Liverpool (4) in Premier League history, with Villa's Ollie Watkins the last player to score one in October 2020.

Updated December 10, 2021

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