Aston Villa’s Quest for Champions League Football

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After their dreams of European glory were dashed in a humbling 6-2 aggregate defeat against Olympiacos in their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final during midweek, Aston Villa will be looking to replace agony with jubilation by securing themselves Champions League football for next season.

Only Liverpool stand between them and Europe’s elite, although the Villa Park faithful may be in a celebratory mood prior to kick-off should Tottenham lose against Burnley before this contest.

Unai Emery’s side might’ve already wrapped up a top-four finish if it weren’t for losing 1-0 to Brighton in their last league outing, putting them at risk of losing back-to-back Premier League games for the first time this season.

Home advantage here should aid in alleviating some pressure since the Villains are unbeaten in their last home Premier League game of the season since regaining top-flight status in 2019/20 (W3, D1).

Can Klopp’s Liverpool Break Villa’s Streak?

Jürgen Klopp will be keen on breaking that streak in his last away game with Liverpool, and he’ll be confident of doing so having gotten the better of Villa in nine of his 11 managerial meetings against them (D1, L1).

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Liverpool’s dominance over their upcoming hosts far precedes the German’s tenure though, especially on the road, since their 16 Premier League away wins against Villa is the most they’ve mustered against any team in the competition.

The Reds have also been utterly dominant as the Premier League season draws to a close in recent years, going unbeaten in the month of May for six years now, a run that spans 18 games (W15, D3).

And while the Merseyside club have nothing of note to play for now, they’ll still be keen to keep that impressive run going in what is Klopp’s swansong season.

The Key Battle: Watkins vs. Van Dijk

Two of the nominees for the Premier League’s Player of the Season promise to engage in a fascinating battle. Ollie Watkins is just one goal away from becoming the first Villa player since Peter Withe in 1980/81 to score 20 goals in a top-flight season, while Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk will be looking to prevent such opportunities and also get forward, having scored in this fixture last season.

Hot Stat: No team in Europe’s traditional top-five leagues has scored more league goals after the 75th minute than Liverpool with 27 this season.

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