Thiago Alcantara should start again, albeit in a much-changed side, when Liverpool take on Aston Villa at Villa Park in the FA Cup third round on Friday.
Liverpool will be aiming to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup when they lock horns with Aston Villa at Villa Park on Friday night. And, Jurgen Klopp does not have any fresh injuries to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
The likes of Kostas Tsimikas, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Diogo Jota remain on the sidelines and will not be available anytime soon. During his pre-match press conference, Klopp did confirm that Jota is still a few weeks away from returning, but there were no updates on the other three.
The Liverpool boss also added that Naby Keita and Joel Matip are on their way back, but remain unavailable for the game against Aston Villa. Klopp said, “It will still take time, he [Jota] is still wearing a brace, so that means he is still a few weeks away from team training. There is nothing really to say, it takes time.”
On Keita, the Liverpool manager said, “Yes, soon, but not for the Villa game,” before providing an update on Matip, adding, “Yes, we will try working on that obviously. Until the United game, we still have nine days around about, so we try. He is in a good way but if it will be United or a few days later, I don’t know.”
It has still not been confirmed whether the match will proceed as scheduled following a COVID-19 outbreak within the Aston Villa first-team. However, the FA has iterated that they are working with Villa to ensure the game is played. If that is indeed the case then Klopp should field a largely second-string side, as is typically the case in the FA Cup and other cup competitions.
In goal, Caoimhin Kelleher ought to come in for Alisson Becker, with Liverpool likely to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Aston Villa. In defence, the absence of Tsimikas means James Milner will likely be the left-back, with Neco Williams replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right flank. At the heart of the Liverpool defence, youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips should pair up.
Up ahead in midfield, Thiago Alcantara will be one of only two players retaining their places from Liverpool’s last fixture, as he continues to build his sharpness. The Spanish international ought to be partnered by Curtis Jones in the double pivot, with Georginio Wijnaldum dropping to the bench.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – the other player starting a second successive game for Liverpool – will be deployed on the left-wing this time around, after starting in midfield versus Southampton. On the right flank, Xherdan Shaqiri will get a rare start, with Takumi Minamino reprising the no. 10 role. Finally, Divock Origi ought to lead the line for Liverpool against Aston Villa.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Kelleher; Neco Williams, Rhys Williams, Phillips, Milner; Jones, Thiago; Shaqiri, Minamino, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Origi