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The FA Cup is a psychological pause. At least, the option for it to be exists, where current managers and playing staff can take a breather and understand the result of this particular game really doesn’t make a difference.
Unless you’re a top-end side who plays their first XI and gets dumped by Wycombe that is. Luckily for Liverpool and Aston Villa, they’ve been handed a convenient draw that they can practically discard if they want to.
Liverpool probably need a result after their last couple of Premier League showings and Aston Villa have a free hit. Trent Alexander-Arnold gave the ball away 38 times against Southampton, and if there’s a surer sign that not all is well at Anfield, it’s that. No weeks off on Merseyside clearly – but does that add another dimension, especially as Villa hit the Reds for seven earlier in the season?
Games where one side are desperate for a win for nothing more than appearances’ sake are always troubling and Villa clearly have their number. They couldn’t again, could they? Here’s your FA Cup bet builder.
- PLEASE NOTE: This content was published before Aston Villa closed their training ground on Thursday afternoon due to a COVID outbreak and the announcement they will field an Under-23 side against Liverpool on Friday.
Friday 19:45 – Aston Villa v Liverpool
BT Sport 1
FA CUP WINNER TIPS: Aston Villa and West Ham 25/1 dark horses for 2021 glory
Villa are at their best when they’re structured and hand possession to their difference makers. But, it’s in games where they’ve tried to outplay teams and are asking too much of their full-backs, that they’ve been left with some disappointing results.
Given they’re facing the Premier League champions, who they know will try and force the issue early, I suspect structure is most certainly the order of the day, and the likes of John McGinn – who may be the most underrated player in the league when it comes to not making mistakes on the ball – will ensure they’re not overrun. I love the value in them landing a draw in 90 minutes here too, but don’t be surprised to see them win it in regulation either.
I’m taking this simply because I’ve included the draw above, and the logical play is to include an even number of goals at the peak of this market. It’s clear to anyone that Villa aren’t shy about shooting from range, nor are they bad from set-pieces. So, even if general play fails them, you can have those variables onside.
Remember – Villa are averaging nearly two goals a game in the Premier League this season. Those shouts for Dean Smith to be sacked seem a long time ago now.
Crises take time to peter out. Liverpool will dominate all the ball early doors and struggle to break Villa down, as we’ve seen them fail against Southampton when their centre-halves are tasked with breaking the first press. The goals will come, but Klopp is the type to give habits a chance early on. He shouldn’t, but he will.
A striker up against this backline, having already netted twice against them this season? The easiest inclusion you could hope for.
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