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Dublin: 19 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020
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Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa

With their first league title in 30 years now secure, Liverpool return to Anfield for the first time as champions.

After Thursday’s 4-0 defeat at Man City, Jurgen Klopp’s side need five wins from their final six games to finish on 101 points, the most of any side in Premier League history.

Their visitors, Aston Villa, face a very different finish to the season. Dean Smith’s side are  mired in a relegation dogfight and, unless they can take something from Anfield today, they will still be in the bottom three with only five games remaining.

Kick-off is at 4.30pm.

TEAM NEWS: Here’s how Klopp’s Liverpool line out:

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Keita, Salah, Origi, Mane.

TEAM NEWS: A familiar Anfield face as Pepe Reina starts in goal for the visitors:

Aston Villa: Reina, Konsa, Hause, Mings, Taylor, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Grealish, El Ghazi, Davis, Trezeguet.

KICK OFF: Players from both sides take a knee, and we’re up and running.

1 min – Some colourful pre-match comments from Graeme Souness in the Sky Studio who, as a former midfield hard man, suggested that Jack Grealish is exactly the kind of player that he would like to play against.

2 mins – First corner of the game goes to the visitors as Joe Gomez hacks the ball behind under pressure.

3 mins – Here’s the guard of honour that welcomed Liverpool out onto the pitch:

4 mins – Salah somehow manages to keep control of the ball in the Villa box with lots of defenders in close attention. He goes to ground and there’s a shout for a penalty from some of the Liverpool players, but Paul Tierney isn’t interested.

5 mins – Quick look at the replay there; Douglas Luiz did stretch a leg across Salah but it wasn’t anything enough to constitute a foul.

10 mins – Jack Grealish holds his hand up in a sheepish apology after a wild swing and a miss at the ball in midfield.

12 mins – And a short break in play now as Grealish needs treatment to help him shake off a knock on the ankle.

14 mins – Quick counter by Liverpool as Mané surges through the middle and plays it into Salah’s feet. Villa regroup before he can do any damage.

15 mins — Robertson chases what looks to a lost cause and gets to the ball before it crosses the bye-line, hooking it back into the Villa box, but Douglas Luiz clears. Villa snap into the tackles as Robertson and Origi try to fashion another opening and win a free out for their trouble.

17 mins – Reina has to be quick off his line at the Anfield Road end as Mane tries to chase a long ball over the top.

19 mins – Keita wins a corner for Liverpool and Robertson sends in an outswinger, but Villa clear their lines again.

20 mins – Possession stats as we approach the 20-minute mark: Liverpool 70%-30% Villa

21 mins – Douglas Luiz gets around Robertson on the outside and the Scot slides in to bring him down; it’s the first yellow card of the game.

From the resulting free, Konsa gets a free header from the edge of the box, but he can’t hit the target.

23 mins – Time for a quick drinks break!

27 mins – Still waiting for our first shot on target as we approach the half-hour mark… 

28 mins – Salah plays the ball off Mings and wins Liverpool another corner. Shouts from the Liverpool players for a handball as the corner pings around the box but Paul Tierney and VAR are happy to let play continue.

30 mins – Villa break with a bit of menace but Liverpool have just enough pressure on the passes to slow them down until the hosts have time to regroup.

31 mins – Quick look at that last penalty shout: the ball did hit Konsa’s hand but it was across his body so no infringement.

33 mins – Douglas Luiz has a shot which finally calls Alisson into action; it’s straight at him.

35 mins – Villa have Liverpool stretched again as Trezeguet tries to cross to El Ghazi at the back post. It’s just a little too high though.

36 mins – John McGinn is late on Oxlade-Chamberlain and finds himself in the book. Alexander-Arnold takes the free but Reina comes to claim it.

37 mins – Liverpool have their first shot on target as the ball loops up in front of Salah. It’s a difficult effort, and he forces Reina to make the save at his near post, but it’s reasonably comfortable all things considered.

39 mins – Grealish puts a dangerous ball into the six-yard box. Robertson is the only one there and he heads it safely away and concedes a corner.

40 mins – McGinn puts the corner right in on top of Alisson and he does well to punch it clear under pressure.

41 mins – Jack Grealish is gone down again, again holding his ankle. He looks like he wants to try to continue.

45 mins – McGinn has a rather ambitious crack from all of 25 yards but it’s left. Very left.

45+1 mins – Three additional minutes at the end of this first half.

46+2 mins – Douglas Luiz goes down in the box with Naby Keita right on his heels — possibly a little too close. Did he clip him? There’s a VAR check ongoing, but it’s no penalty.

Pretty uneventful stuff, but a point would certainly be a good result for Villa if it stays like this.

Back in a few.

SECOND HALF: No changes for either side at half time, and we’re back underway at Anfield… hopefully there’ll be a little bit more action in this half.

46 mins – Grealish plays the ball into Davis’s feet at the edge of the box but as he tries to turn, it skips away from him and into Alisson’s hands. Good stuff from Grealish though.

47 mins – The ball flashes across the front of Pepe Reina’s goal but there are no red jerseys there to force him into action.

51 mins – Grealish drills a shot straight at Alisson. The keeper saves but the flag was up anyway.

52 mins – Mane gives the ball away very cheaply and Villa break quickly. El Ghazi drills a shot towards Alisson’s near post but he makes the save.

53 mins – A corner pings worryingly around the Liverpool box. Villa definitely have the upper hand here at the moment.

55 mins – Another Trezeguet cross, and this time Alisson has to come quite a long way before punching clear acrobatically.

56 mins – And now Reina is called into action at the other end as he gets down low to pounce on an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross. Just too close to the keeper.

58 mins – Douglas Luiz nicks the ball away from van Dijk — an uncharacteristic mistake, but he gets back to recover with a block on El Ghazi before there’s any more damage done.

59 mins – Dangerous moment for Villa as Robertson gets to the line and cuts the ball back towards the six-yard box. Taylor gets there first and puts it behind for a corner.

60 mins — Liverpool substitutions: Triple sub for Klopp — Firmino, Wijnaldum and Henderson all on; Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Origi go off.

65 mins – Van Dijk puts Reina under pressure from a corner, but the keeper is strong enough to punch clear; it’s a free out regardless.

67 mins – Konsa tries a crossfield pass to Trezeguet but it’s slightly overhit and that’s enough to carry it harmlessly out of play.

68 mins – Drinks time!

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GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL! Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa (Mane, 71′)

Whatever the liveblog equivalent of the commentator’s curse is (the liveblogger’s curse?), I’ve just inflicted it on Aston Villa.

While I type that they’ve been full value for a point at the bare minimum with 70 minutes to play, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita take the game by the scruff of the neck. Alexander-Arnold slides the first pass into the box, Keita slides another to Mane, and he rattles one off the underside of the bar and in.

No chance for Reina. Liverpool lead.

73 mins — Aston Villa substitutions: Two changes for Dean Smith – Samatta and Jota replace Davis and El Ghazi for the final 17 minutes.

74 mins – Nice stat from Jamie Carragher there: Mbwana Samatta has already scored against Liverpool at Anfield this season — for Genk in the Champions League.

75 mins – Firmino tries to get his name on the scoresheet. He dribbles back inside and plays a one-two with Salah before curling a shot towards goal. Reina makes the diving save to stop it.

80 mins – Into the last 10 minutes in Anfield. Liverpool have been decidedly average but unless Villa can find a way through, it won’t make the slightest bit of difference.

82 mins – Jota forces a corner for Villa. It’s played short to Douglas Luiz who then promptly passes it out of play. Hmmm.

84 mins — Liverpool substitution: Curtis Jones gets a run-out to replace Naby Keita for the last few minutes.

Aston Villa substitution: Indiana Vassilev comes on in place of Trezeguet.

86 mins – Not for the first time this seaosn, Curtis Jones sees his name in lights. He cuts back inside with his first touch and tries his luck with his second from just outside the box. It doesn’t trouble Reina though.

88 mins — Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

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GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL! Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa (Jones, 89′)

That’s Liverpool’s 29th win of the Premier League season secured — and it’s Curtis Jones who guarantees the three points.

Robertson crosses from the left, Salah nods it down into Jones’s path, and he takes his chance. It take a nick off Tyrone Mings but there’s nobody who’ll take this away from the teenager.

90+2 mins – We’re well into the five additional minutes to be played here. It looks like Neco Williams will get a late run here to help his appearance count for a Premier League winners’ medal.

90+3 mins — Liverpool substitution: Williams will get a run for two minutes to replace Andy Robertson.

Far from Liverpool’s most impressive performance of the season but the champions move to 89 points, just 12 shy of setting a new Premier League record with five games still to play.

Villa might well look back at this one as their chance to pick up an unexpected point but it wasn’t to be. They stay in the relegation zone, a point behind Watford and four behind West Ham with five games to play.

That’s all from us for now. Thanks for reading.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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