Emi Martinez to return, Clement Lenglet made to wait in six changes - Aston Villa predicted XI v Liverpool
Emi Martinez could be set to make his return from injury and start for Aston Villa when they travel to Anfield to face Liverpool in their Premier League clash on Sunday (3 September).
The Villans advanced to the Europa Conference League group stages with a comfortable 3-0 win over Hibernian on Thursday with Unai Emery making several changes to his starting lineup, ensuring a number of players could rest ahead of the match against Liverpool.
However, Clement Lenglet may have to wait for his first start in an Aston Villa shirt, the defender joined Emery’s side on Thursday (1 September) but with limited time to train with the squad, he may not be ready for a start.
With six changes being predicted from the side that beat Hibernian 3-0, it seems as though Martinez could return between the sticks for Villa, despite missing the last two matches and having been substituted during half-time of the first-leg against Hibs.
Although Robin Olsen has been steady as a replacement, the Argentine stopper is a much better keeper and returned to training on Friday (1 September) with Emery hoping that he would be fit to return to the fold against Jurgen Klopp’s side [Birmingham Live].
Hopefully, Martinez has managed to come through training without aggravating his injury and Villa will have their first-choice keeper back for one of their toughest tests, but Olsen will feel unlucky having dealt with all five attempts on target Hibs produced (Fotmob).
Although Emery opted to switch to a four-at-the-back formation in Europe, against Liverpool he will more than likely revert to the five-man defence which served him so well in Villa’s 3-1 win over Burnley, given the Reds’ attacking talent. Pau Torres and Ezri Kansa both started in the week but were substituted in the second half in a bid to keep them fresh and will keep their places on Sunday.
Callum Chambers did what he had to do for Emery’s side against Hibs, but will likely make way for Diego Carlos in the middle of the three centre-backs, the Brazilian played half an hour in Europe and should be ready to return to the starting XI at Anfield.
The wing-backs almost pick themselves for Villa at the moment, Lucas Digne will likely replace Seb Revan on the left, the 20-year-old earned plenty of praise for his display but the Frenchman has four assists in his last two outings and is playing some of his best football since making the move to Villa Park.
Matty Cash will return to the right-wing-back role which has him score three times in his last two outings having only played a half in the Conference League, but his good form and the likely change of shape will see one attacking option miss out on a starting place.
After both Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara were withdrawn in the second half against Hibs, they will likely be Emery’s choice in the middle of the park once again, they’ve started every Premier League match so far this season and have been two of the most impressive members of the Villa squad.
That will likely mean that Youri Tielemans will be made to wait for his first Premier League start at Aston Villa, having only managed 76 minutes of league action so far. The Belgian played the full 90 at Villa Park against the Scottish side in a more advanced role than both Luiz and Kamara.
However that role has been occupied so well throughout the season so far by captain John McGinn and he has been excellent so far this campaign, making it incredibly hard for Tielemans to displace him. Against Burnley, the Scotsman created two chances for his teammates, despite having the fewest touches of any outfield player to play the full match (Fotmob).
McGinn will almost definitely be joined in the attacking trio by Moussa Diaby, who will likely replace Leon Bailey at Anfield. The Jamaican managed a goal and assist in the win over Hibs and has managed two goal involvements in two Premier League matches, so will be wondering what more he has to do.
John Duran and Omari Kellyman lead the line for Emery on Thursday, but both will likely make way at the cost of the change of system and the return of first-team regulars. Duran has managed to find the net once in the Premier League in only 20 minutes of action so far so is likely to be utilised from the bench.
But it will be Ollie Watkins who is most likely to lead the line against Liverpool, the striker is yet to score a Premier League goal this season despite averaging 2.7 shots per game and with Liverpool missing Virgil Van Dijk, his pace will be viewed as an excellent asset at Anfield.
In other Aston Villa news, Philippe Coutinho has chosen his preferred next move