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Liverpool probably had to be perfect in the run-in to have a chance of overhauling Manchester City in the title race but the first crack appeared on Saturday evening as the Merseysiders were held to a 1-1 draw by Spurs.
City sensed that was the moment to hit the accelerator hard and they did so via a 4-0 home win over Newcastle on Sunday.
That puts Pep Guardiola's men three points clear with three games to play and they also have a superior goal difference which further adds to Liverpool's task ahead of Tuesday's trip to Aston Villa.
The Reds will still fight but it's now hard to see City opening the door and dropping sufficient points to let Liverpool back in.
When: Tuesday, May 10, 20:00 BST
Where: Villa Park
How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event
Who is the ref for Aston Villa v Liverpool
Jon Moss is the man in the middle at Villa Park.
Liverpool won 5-0 at Watford the last time the Leeds-based official took charge of one of their away games, a match in which he didn't book a single player.
This is his first trip to Villa Park since July 2020 while he also refereed this fixture in November 2019, booking three players in a 2-1 win for Liverpool.
Season stats 2021/22: All matches (28), yellows (72), red (4), penalties (6)
Liverpool went into the Tottenham game on a run of six straight wins in all competitions but had to fight back from a goal down to avoid defeat. There was still plenty to like in that performance which came on the back of a 3-2 win away to Villarreal, a result that booked their place in the Champions League final.
But just maybe there was a lack of spark in the final third as the Tottenham plan to stick men behind the ball and hit the Reds on the break worked well.
Liverpool's last away game in the Premier League resulted in a 1-0 win at Newcastle where Naby Keita's first-half strike proved enough. Aston Villa swallowed four straight defeats between mid-March and early April before stopping the rot with a 0-0 draw at Leicester. And since then they've vanquished any ideas of being sucked into a late relegation battle with back-to-back wins over strugglers Norwich and Burnley to climb to 11th.
They rather huffed and puffed in the 2-0 home win over the Canaries but were impressive in their 3-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Overall, they've been a better away team than home team under Gerrard.
Aston Villa and Liverpool players in form
Villa's front players are starting to perform and Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins have both scored in their last two fixtures.
Emiliano Buendia was the standout player at Burnley and scored the second of their three goals.
For Liverpool, January signing Luis Diaz continues to earn rave reviews and the Colombian has continued his excellent form with goals in the last two games - a header at Villarreal and a deflected thump from the edge of the box against Spurs.
Sadio Mane was quiet against Tottenham but has outscored Mo Salah in recent times with seven goals in his last 10 games. Thiago Alcantara has been pulling the strings in midfield and the classy Spaniard is enjoying his best run of form since joining the Reds a couple of seasons ago.
Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa (December 11, 2021)
Villa boss Steven Gerrard was given a rousing reception on his return to Anfield but left empty-handed after Salah settled the contest with a second-half penalty. Salah won the spot-kick himself after being bundled over by Tryone Mings and thumped home in the 67th-minute.
After a rearguard effort for most of the match, Villa became far more ambitious in the final 10 minutes but Liverpool held out to pull within a point of leaders Manchester City.
Liverpool 2-1 Aston Villa (April 10, 2021)
It seems astonishing now but Liverpool went into this game having lost their last six Premier League games at Anfield - a run that put their hopes of a top four finish in major jeopardy. A seventh straight loss beckoned when Watkins put Villa in front just two minutes before the break but Liverpool finally found some answers in the second half. Salah's header made it all square after 57 - the Reds' first goal in open play at Anfield in over 12 hours - and Trent Alexander-Arnold curled in a superb winner a minute into added time. Not that there were any fans in the stadium to see it.
Aston Villa 1-4 Liverpool (January 08, 2021)
Having been demolished 7-2 on their previous trip to Villa Park, Liverpool arrested a few of those demons with a comfortable third round FA Cup win. And yet, the victory came with a huge asterisk. Villa had suffered a coronavirus outbreak at their training ground, meaning they had to field a team of under-23 and under-18 players. One of them, 17-year-old Louie Barry, even managed to wipe out Mane's early goal to send the two sides into the break at 1-1. But Liverpool finally got going and settled the tie with three goals in five second-half minutes from Gini Wijnaldum, Mane and Salah.
Aston Villa wins: 3 Draws: 0 Liverpool wins: 7 Aston Villa scored: 19 Liverpool scored: 23
Jurgen Klopp on title race: "It is clear that it is not over, whatever happened, because we both have three games to play. And my concern is actually: how can we win our games? "We have absolutely no hand in how City will play their games. But before they are played I think we should not add on points; we don't do that and I'm pretty sure City are not doing that. [Until] it's not reachable anymore, why should we stop believing? That's what we do." Steven Gerrard on top 10 chances: "It would be a satisfactory end to the season considering where we were when we took the job - 16th in the league and a couple of points above relegation. "The first remit was to move the team into a safe place, first and foremost. Now we're in a place with four games left where there's a possibility to finish in the top ten and I think that would be a huge positive considering the club hasn't done it for a decade. "That would give us a positive base to go and have a real strong pre-season form."
Predicted Aston Villa v Liverpool teams
With Watkins, Ings and Buendia all combining well at Burnley, Gerrard will have to decide whether he can find a place for former Anfield favourite Philippe Coutinho in his starting line-up. Jacob Ramsey and Leon Bailey missed the Turf Moor trip through injury but both could make the bench.
Possible Aston Villa starting line-up: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne, McGinn, Chambers, Luiz, Buendia, Watkins, Ings.
With Liverpool's schedule so heavy and an FA Cup final against Chelsea coming up at the weekend, Jurgen Klopp surely has to rotate. That could mean Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas coming in at full-back and perhaps a return for Joel Matip in central defence.
Keita and Diogo Jota didn't start at home to Spurs so could come in while Curtis Jones is another who could be promoted from the bench.
If Roberto Firmino is ready, Klopp would surely like to hand the Brazilian a start and give Mane or Salah a rest.
Possible Liverpool starting line-up: Alisson, Gomez, Tsimikas, Van Dijk, Matip, Henderson, Fabinho, Keita, Jota, Mane, Salah.
Aston Villa v Liverpool prediction
Liverpool have had an extraordinary season but perhaps it's just asking too much for them to beat Manchester City in a title race as well as winning all three Cup competitions. Klopp will likely prioritise the FA Cup final now while trying to pinch a win here with something less than his first-choice starting XI. The plan in Liverpool's eyes was for Anfield legend Gerrard to ruin City's title hopes on the final day of the season when Villa went to the Etihad.
Ironically, it may be Liverpool's he wrecks. Villa only lost 1-0 at Anfield so perhaps a 1-1 draw here has merit.
The article Aston Villa vs Liverpool news: Reds in danger of letting title hopes slip further appeared first on Planetsport.com.