“So will this be the Premier League’s last title race for the next five years?” writes Rob Hisnay. “I say that as, with Manchester City signing Erling Haaland, it doesn’t look good for the competitiveness of the Premier League.”
Folk said the same when Manchester United signed Juan Sebastian Veron and Ruud Van Nistelrooy in 2001, and when Chelsea bought Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko in 2006. Both teams won the title only once in the next five years. I mean, Haaland may well score 50 goals by November, but I’m keeping an open mind for now, especially with Jurgen Klopp around.
Steven Gerrard makes two changes from Aston Villa’s win at Burnley on Saturday. Marvelous Nakamba and Philippe Coutinho replace Calum Chambers and Emi Buendia.
Jurgen Klopp rests a number of players ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday. Overall there are five changes from the 1-1 draw with Spurs at the weekend. Joel Matip, Kostas Tsimikas, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota come in for the heavyweight quintet of Ibrahima Konate, Andy Robertson (who isn’t among the subs), Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson and Mo Salah.
Aston Villa (4-D-2) Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Nakamba; McGinn, Douglas Luiz; Coutinho; Watkins, Ings.
Substitutes: Olsen, Chambers, Chrisene, A Young, Iroegbunam, Sanson, Carney Chukwuemeka, Buendia, Traore.
Liverpool (4-3-3) Allison; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Tsimikas; Keita, Fabinho, Jones; Jota, Mane, Diaz.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Konate, Thiago, Milner, Firmino, Salah, Henderson, Gomez, Origi.
referee Jon Moss.
Of all the gin joints. It’s the year 2022, Liverpool are involved in a title race – and Steven Gerrard is a central figure. By a quirk of the fixture computer and the managerial merry-go-round, Gerrard’s Aston Villa side play Liverpool tonight and Manchester City at the Etihad on the final day of the season. He could help Liverpool win the title, or he could finish them off in the next few hours.
If Liverpool drop points tonight, it’ll be all over bar the tweeting. As they’ve taken 41 points from their last 15 league games, even the dumb money is on them winning at Villa Park. But there’s no rest for the well wicked: the more successful you are, the greater the fixture pile-up, and this is Liverpool’s 12th game in 39 days since the last international break.
One interpretation of their draw with Spurs on Saturday is that they showed signs of fatigue, mentally rather than physically, though in truth it’s far too early to jump to that conclusion. It should surprise nobody if they chase Villa off the park tonight.
Villa have won their last two games though, ending a poor run of form, and have players who can hurt Liverpool: Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings and the artist formerly known as the Little Magician.
Like Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho will experience some mixed emotions tonight.