By Anthony Onifade

5th Sep, 2023 | 8:10pm

Aston Villa: Unai Emery faces anxious wait on fitness of Diego Carlos, injury absence proved costly v Liverpool

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery faces an anxious wait on the fitness of centre-back Diego Carlos after he was withdrawn early in the first half against Liverpool on Sunday (3 September).

Aston Villa suffered another disappointing away-day defeat new Premier League campaign as they were outclassed in a 3-0 loss at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield

The Reds enjoyed a blistering start, with early first-half goals courtesy of Dominik Szoboszlai and Matty Cash finding his own net.

Star winger Mohamed Salah then added a third in the second half to secure a very straightforward win for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Villa, who have been scoring for fun since losing 5-1 to Newcastle in their opening game of the season, were far too open at the back as they struggled to deal with Liverpool’s forwards.

After winning their last four games in all competitions, Villa will look to put this performance and result down to a bad day at the office but Emery will now hold grave concerns over the fitness of another of his key and experienced performers in Carlos who was withdrawn with just 19 minutes on the clock at Anfield.

Since making the move from Sevilla last summer, Carlos hasn’t exactly had the best of luck, with his long-term injury at the start of last season against Everton summing things up.

Back from injury with a new season underway, and Emery in the technical area, Carlos has finally been ready to take his chance at Villa Park as of late, however, featuring in all four Premier League games [Transfermarkt].

Following the long-term injury to fellow experienced international defender Tyrone Mings, the last thing Emery will want is another spell on the sidelines for another of his key defenders and given the way the Spaniard responded to Sky Sports’ question regarding an update on Carlos’ conditions, that may well be the case.

When asked if the injury to Carlos was serious, Emery swiftly responded with a worrying tone of voice stating he did not know. Asked what frustrated him most about the defeat, the former Villarreal manager responded again saying:

“The injury to [Diego] Carlos. It’s not a big injury but it changed the game plan. We were a little bit weak. We can be strong as well without Carlos, but last week in Burnley we had a strong structure.”

Solving that problem, the Midlands club signed Clement Lenglet on loan late in the summer transfer window, but the Barcelona man certainly cannot cover for two absences.

Indeed, the injury to the Brazilian was crucial as the third of Liverpool’s goals came directly as a result of the absence of the former Sevilla man. Carlos is known for aerial dominance, having won 67% of them last season and 65% for Sevilla the season prior to that [SofaScore].

Also, the 30-year-old is an assured presence and leader of the defence, regularly making his voice heard when his teammates are out of shape and that proved incredibly costly for Liverpool’s second when Matty Cash put the ball through his own net.

A simple long ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold simply cut through the Villa back-line which allowed Mo Salah to square the pass through to Darwin Nunez.

And a worrying stat from Aston Villa Statto emerged soon after the game on Sunday which read that Aston Villa have only won two of the ten contested aerial duels against Liverpool – the lowest number in a Premier League game for Villa since the start of the 2020/21 campaign.

The international break should certainly hand Emery the crucial opportunity to solve any glaring problems with their system at Villa Park, in an attempt to stop the leak of goals against the best sides in England’s top flight.

Whether Carlos will be fit enough to play a part in that tactical adjustment when domestic action returns remains to be seen, but as the above stats detail, Aston Villa simply cannot afford to lose both him and Mings to long-term layoffs.

In other Aston Villa news, one Villa Park star may have already emptied his locker for good as new footage emerged this week.