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Opponent analysis: Aston Villa

Analysis | On Sunday, Liverpool FC will head to Aston Villa in Birmingham. After more than close relegation last year, they want to establish themselves with targeted reinforcements in the Premier League.

In the summer, the problem areas were carefully analyzed and almost completely closed. With Emiliano Martinez (28) came a new goalkeeper, because the actual goalkeeper Tom Heaton (34) has been injured since the end of the last first half of the season and none of the alternatives in the squad were able to prove their Premier League suitability.

Clever purchasing policy in Birmingham

With Matty Cash (23) came a player from Nottingham who can play almost anything on the flanks, both offensively and defensively. So far, he has been used as a right-back if there is an emergency, but he can also move to the left or move forward one position. A winger from France came from Olympique Lyon in Bertrand Traore (25). The Frenchman was only a substitute player after two strong years last season, which is one of the reasons why the Villans were able to sign him at all.

They also won the race for one of the championship's most sought-after players, Ollie Watkins (24). The striker came from Brentford and is supposed to relieve captain Jack Grealish (25) offensively. An injury was also decisive for this commitment, Wesley (23) was out for a long time last season due to a cruciate ligament rupture and never returned to his previous form. In addition, midfielder Ross Barkley (26) was loaned from Chelsea FC for one season on Wednesday.

No really relevant squad player was given up. After a transfer minus of over 150 million euros last year and thus ranked second in the world in terms of transfer minus, it was again this year “don't mess, but mess”. The four newcomers cost a total of over 80 million euros, which means that this summer they are again at the top when it comes to the minus on the transfer market. Only Leeds United and Chelsea FC have made more losses at this point in time (the transfer window is still open until October 5th, 2020).

Tempo, Tempo, Tempo and Grealish

In 4-3-3 you try to bridge midfield as quickly as possible in your own possession. Mainly because Watkins is not a brawny player, but rather a fast, agile player in the center of the attack this season, the style of play has changed from high balls to flat balls in the run. One thing has not changed, however, and that is that almost every attack goes through Grealish. He is the linchpin of this team.

Defensively, you're pretty massive. The full-backs concentrate mainly on their defensive tasks, the central midfield impresses above all with its physique and tackling strength. It remains to be seen whether Ross Barkley will immediately be an option for Sunday's game. If this is the case, he will give the midfield a different grade, as he is superior to any other Villans midfielder with his dynamism and his move towards goal.

Dean Smith - Villa fan through and through

Coach Dean Smith (49) is a real brummie. Born and raised in the suburb of West Bromwich, he quickly became a fan of the Villans, who were an integral part of the first division in his youth and regularly competed for the championship (twice runners-up between 1990 and 1993).

There is even a persistent rumor that he cleaned the seats in the stadium as a boy. Even if this is probably not true, the persistence with which the rumor persists shows how connected he is to the club.

John Terry, who is assistant coach, should also be mentioned in this context. He has a very good relationship with the players and is considered a kind of father figure who is supposed to keep the team together even in difficult phases.

An outstanding start to the season

The start of the new season couldn't have gone better. In the first two games - the game against Manchester City was postponed as Manchester was entitled to at least 30 days of summer break - there were two wins. Both times they did not concede a goal. Martinez deserves special mention. The new goalkeeper did his job very well, including a penalty against Sheffield United and has been the hoped-for support so far. In the league cup they were eliminated on Thursday against Stoke City. However, you competed there with the B-Elf, so you shouldn't attach too much weight to this game.

How much these victories are worth remains to be seen. With Sheffield United and Fulham FC, they had two of the weakest teams in the league as opponents, and it is not without reason that they are in the bottom two places in the table.

Player to watch: Ollie Watkins

Ollie Watkins has made a remarkable career. Trained as a winger, he played in the English fourth division at Exeter City until 3 years ago. There he fell on the Brentford FC. This club is known for having an extremely good scouting system, which attaches great importance to statistics and is based on the moneyball system from baseball.

The first two years Watkins played mainly on the left wing and showed there solid, but not outstanding performances (33 goal participations in 86 games). After the departure of Neal Maupay (24) to Brighton & Hove Albion and the engagement of Bryan Mbeumo (21), the dynamic on the offensive changed completely. Since Mbeumo is a pure right winger, Said Benrahma (25) moved to the left and Watkins occupied the center forward position from then on.

And you couldn't have imagined it better. The three players were responsible for a total of 57 goals in the league. The front went in terms of Tore Watkins, who scored 25 times. In the summer, this finally made Aston Villa the record purchase in club history with just under 30 million euros. It remains to be seen whether he can repay this trust. He hasn't scored yet, but against Sheffield United he was probably the decisive man. In minute twelve, John Egan (27), the captain of the Blades, could only stop him with an emergency brake, which enabled Aston Villa to play outnumbered for almost 80 minutes.


If you manage to take Grealish out of the game, Villas Offensive is practically non-existent apart from long balls. Above all, Joe Gomez should be able to do this relatively easily. On the other hand, you have to reckon with a massive defensive bulwark and before that with midfielders who will fight for every inch of turf.

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