Aston Villa v Liverpool: Reds to have too much class for improving Villa

Both Liverpool and Aston Villa have got off to perfect starts in the Premier League this season, but Alan Dudman doesn't envisage any problems for Jurgen Klopp's team on Sunday...

Aston Villa v Liverpool
Sunday 4th October, kickoff 19:15
Live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event

Villa can assess how far they've improved with the Champions in town

Villa's midweek Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Stoke shouldn't take the gloss off an excellent start to the season with two victories and two clean sheets in the Premier League. In fact, the good work from last term has been carried forward, with Dean Smith's side now unbeaten in eight matches - with a six-game winning streak.

Monday's 0-3 win at Fulham was about as straightforward as you could get, with Roy Keane in the Sky Sports' studios saying that Fulham made Villa look like Bayern Munich. The Cottagers were more like Brian Munich.

So many aspects of their play impressed me in west London. Skipper Jack Grealish had a great understanding with John McGinn, whilst Ollie Watkins worked ever-so hard in closing down at the top of the pitch. Villa looked like an established team at this level, so this will be the ultimate litmus test to see how far they've come.

The signing of Ross Barkley is a major coup for the club as well, and at 26 years of age, he will have the hunger to perform well with a place in England's Euro squad at stake.

Relentless Reds keep on rolling

With Manchester City and Chelsea looking vulnerable in terms of making a title challenge this season, it's all looking rather ominous for the rest of the league if those two are already off the pace. So much so, that Liverpool are now odds-on at 1.93 in the Winner market for a second successive title.

The Reds are relentless, and they maintained their 100% start to the season with the 3-1 victory against Arsenal. Boss Jurgen Klopp stressed afterwards that he was "as careful as hell not to get caught on the counter", and their 21 shots was a ridiculous figure for a game involving two elite clubs.

Their shot tally truly is staggering, with the 21 against the Gunners taking their grand total already for the season to 61. That's 17 more than any other side in the league.

Opta stats paint a grim picture too for the hosts (if the shots weren't enough), as Aston Villa have lost their last five Premier League matches with Liverpool by an aggregate score of 3-15.

Match Odds

With Liverpool at 1.45 and the hosts at 8.80, there's a distinct Carabao Cup market feel to this. Perhaps the price of Villa is an insult to their improved form and the home team are certainly better than their odds suggest.

The markets changed a little late on Friday evening due to the news that striker Sadio Mane tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating. The Liverpool figure subsequently went out from 1.35, while the Villa price went the other way from 10.00 into 8.80.

Backing Villa in the long run at those sort of numbers will make a profit for the season as they are bound to upset one of the bigger clubs, however, this will be a totally different test to what they faced against Sheffield United and Fulham, and from both of the matches between the pair last season, the Reds had nearly 75% of the ball in each game.

Backers of the short away price at 1.45 will take great heart from the fact that Liverpool have lost just one of their last 19 games in the Premier League against Villa - winning in their last six visits.

So how do we boost our options?

As ever, the Asian Handicap offers some cheer for those that like to take a little closer to even money, with the -1.5 at a reasonable 2.20. Although backers of that bet would have lost with the game ending 1-2 at Villa Park last season. Slightly shorter in the betting is the Liverpool to win at Half Time bet at 1.81, for which they are two out of three so far in the league.

It will be interesting to see how Smith approaches this game, as in the Sheffield United victory, both sides recorded extremely low xG models at 0.81 and 0.85. And now that Smith has unlikely back-to-back clean sheets under his belt, he'll feel a bit more confident in trying soak up the endless pressure. But the aggregate score earlier highlights that we should feel confident that the away team can cover the -1.5, even if Liverpool will be without Mane.

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