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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019
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We’re just a few minutes away from kick-off, as Liverpool look to make it 28 Premier League games unbeaten.

It’s unlikely to be easy though against a Villa side that have won two of their last three games, and have caused a few of the big sides problems already this season.

With Man City hosting struggling Southampton in another of today’s 3pm kick-offs, Liverpool will likely need to win to maintain their six-point lead at the top.

Having dropped points just once in their opening 10 league games this season though, Jurgen Klopp’s men will be confident of continuing their phenomenal recent form.

We’re under way…

2Mins

Chance for Villa straight away.

El Ghazi gets through the Liverpool defence too easily, but his shot from the edge of the area is straight at Alisson.

An encouraging start for the hosts.

6Mins

Liverpool have been better since that early scare.

They’ve largely dominated possession and controlled the game, but have yet to carve out a clear-cut opening.

11Mins

Nervy moment for Liverpool.

Jordan Henderson’s backpass looks underhit, in a manner akin to James Milner against Arsenal in the week, but Alisson manages to get to the ball ahead of the attacker.

As I type, a cross is whipped into the box by Targett, with Wijnaldum appearing to play three Villa attackers onside, though they all narrowly miss the ball in.

13Mins

Villa have been the more threatening side so far.

Liverpool have been slightly subdued, though you get the feeling Dean Smith’s side need to capitalise during this promising early spell, or they will rue not doing so later in the match.

20Mins

Great chance for Liverpool!

A cross is half cleared. On the right-hand side of the box, Henderson then lofts the ball into the box for Mane, who gets in front of Guilbert. The Senegal international then heads it across the goal and inches wide.

Moments later, Van Dijk plays a superb long pass to Salah, whose first-time sidefooted volley from a tight angle is parried away by Heaton.

24Mins

Villa take a shock lead and it’s a poor goal from a Liverpool perspective.

McGinn’s free kick from the left sees Trezeguet latching onto it, beating Liverpool’s offside trap and volleying it in through the legs of Alisson.

After a lengthy VAR check for offside in a decision that looks incredibly close, the goal is given.

26Mins

Interestingly, both the title contenders are currently trailing.

A James Ward-Prowse goal after 13 minutes has put Southampton 1-0 up against Man City at the Etihad.

Meanwhile, as I type, Liverpool are responding well to the goal.

Alexander-Arnold charges forward and his shot is deflected out for a corner.

30Mins

Firmino has the ball in the net, converting an open goal from a Mane cross, but it’s ruled out after another long VAR check.

That looked very tight. The offside flag was raised immediately, before doubt started to creep in, with the Brazilian appearing to be onside on the initial replay.

Robertson’s cross is well cut out by Engels.

Liverpool are looking increasingly dangerous in attack, and it’s hard to see them not scoring the way this game is going.

As I type though, Villa, counter. El Ghazi produces a good cross to Trézéguet at the back post, but the Egypt international completely mishits his volley. 

38Mins

Mane has just been booked for a blatant dive in the box.

Guilbert made it clear to show the referee he did not commit to the challenge, with the Senegal international backed into a tight space.

39Mins

aston-villa-v-liverpool-premiership-villa-park Armed forces carry Poppy wreaths onto the pitch before the game. Source: Nick Potts

40Mins

Liverpool may be a goal down, but they have been the far superior team in recent minutes.

Villa have been under relentless pressure, but are struggling to get out of their half. Wesley’s hold-up play, in particular, could be better.

43Mins

Liverpool counter at pace.

Mane cuts the ball across the box to the onrushing Salah, but the Egyptian uncharacteristically balloons his first-time attempt well over.

48Mins

Wesley concedes a free-kick, while challenging for the ball with Lovren, showing his immense frustration after the whistle blows.

The 22-year-old Brazilian forward has cut an isolated figure for much of this first half and has struggled to have any impact.

45Mins

So half-time and Villa are ahead.

Their lead looked increasingly tenuous as the half developed though, with a Roberto Firmino goal ruled out by the tightest of offside calls.

Liverpool have not been at their best and have missed Fabinho’s creativity and presence in midfield.

However, Villa struggled to contain them at times during that first half. The hosts are bound to tire as the match progresses, so it would still be a surprise if Liverpool don’t score.

Indeed, the feel of this game is not too dissimilar to last week’s Liverpool-Tottenham clash.

Villa took an early lead, but like Spurs, you get the impression they are liable to concede under mounting pressure and with their attackers looking increasingly marginalised.

45Mins

aston-villa-v-liverpool-premier-league-villa-park Liverpool's Sadio Mane goes down in the area under the challenge from Aston Villa's Frederic Guilbert and is booked for diving. Source: Nick Potts

47Mins

Some clarification on that Firmino decision.

50Mins

Firmino plays it across the box to Wijnaldum, but the Dutch midfielder’s shot is straight at Heaton.

Moments later, Liverpool break again, and this time Mane’s shot from distance is too close to the Villa goalkeeper.

55Mins

Liverpool break as Mings lunges at a through pass, but misses it.

Henderson has good options, but his final pass is poor, and the chance is gone.

58Mins

Liverpool break again.

This time, Salah tries to make the difference, but his shot from distance is woefully off target.

You get the sense Liverpool might benefit from a substitution. They haven’t made the greatest of starts to the second half, and could do with some freshening up.

61Mins

Chance for Liverpool!

Alexander-Arnold produces an excellent hanging cross. 

However, Heaton gets his body in the way of Mane’s header from a tight angle.

65Mins

It’s all Liverpool at the moment.

The match is now being played almost exclusively in Villa’s half.

As I type, Robertson crosses for Salah, whose header from a tight angle is off target.

75Mins

Liverpool have made a double change with 25 minutes left.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Origi replace Salah and Wijnaldum.

Oxlade-Chamberlain nearly makes an immediate impact — two of his powerful strikes from the edge of the area require last-ditch blocks.

71Mins

Alexander-Arnold produces another dangerous cross that Heaton has to parry away for a corner.

Moments later, from a set piece, Origi’s shot on the turn goes well over the bar.

Meanwhile, Man City have equalised against Southampton through Sergio Aguero.

74Mins

Villa have now made two changes in quick succession.

Ireland’s Conor Hourihane is on in place of Douglas Luiz, while shortly before that, El Mohamady replaced Guilbert.

As I type, Firmino crosses for Lallana, who can’t quite properly connect with his finish and it goes well off target.

82Mins

Big chance for Villa on the counter-attack.

The hosts have an overlap — Trézéguet plays it to Targett whose subsequent cut back is desperately cleared by Liverpool.

Moments later, El Ghazi tries to pick out Trézéguet with a through pass, but Alexander-Arnold does well to get back and intercept.

84Mins

Alexander-Arnold takes it past Hourihane.

His subsequent left-footed shot from the edge of the box goes just the wrong side of the post.

86Mins

Potentially big news in the title race!

Kyle Walker has made it Man City 2-1 Southampton.

88Mins

Mane produces a perfectly weighted cross to the back post that Robertson heads powerfully home.

Can Liverpool find a winner in the dying minutes?

90Mins

Another dangerous cross by Mane.

El Mohamady heads it behind for a corner.

Moments later, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross is headed wide by Lovren.

91Mins

Liverpool have a free kick deep into stoppage time after Oxlade-Chamberlain is taken down…

90Mins

We are two minutes into five minutes of stoppage time.

90Mins

Alexander-Arnold’s free kick is deflected over for a corner…

90Mins

Incredible stuff!

It’s a simple goal in the end, as Mane heads home Alexander-Arnold’s corner amid some dodgy Villa marking.

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You can read our match report here and we’ll have more reaction to follow.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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