Football tips: Watkins can haunt Reds again in this 22/1 Bet Builder for Liverpool v Aston Villa

Our tipster Shane O'Brien expects Aston Villa to worry Liverpool on Saturday [15.00]

Jack Grealish Aston Villa Mohamed Salah Liverpool Dean Smith Jurgen Klopp

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

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Saturday, 15.00: Liverpool v Aston Villa
Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League/Sky Sports Ultra HD

Aston Villa (+1)

Liverpool looked to have turned the corner after their comprehensive win over Arsenal last weekend, but they were brought crashing back down to earth on Tuesday night in Spain. It is not the first time that this has happened to Jurgen Klopp’s side, who sparked to life in January with back-to-back wins over West Ham and Tottenham only to lose six of their next seven games in the league.

They have the opportunity to exorcise some demons after the embarrassing 7-2 defeat to Villa last October, but more importantly they will want to bring their unwanted home record to an end ahead of their second leg with Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Liverpool are without a win at Anfield in 2021, losing six consecutive games and failing to win their last eight at home. They have scored just once at home since the turn of the year and will need to at least double that tally against Madrid on Wednesday if they are to keep their faint hopes of winning the Champions League alive.

They could do with a confidence booster against a Villa side that has struggled over the past seven games in the absence of Jack Grealish. However, the Villa captain looks likely to make his return at Anfield on Saturday and could potentially change the entire dynamic of the game. Villa will follow the Anfield blueprint laid down by the likes of Brighton, Fulham, and Burnley, and they are more than capable of avoiding defeat.

Under 2.5 goals

Liverpool’s goalscoring record at home speaks for itself. The champions have failed to score in six of their seven games at Anfield in 2021, only scoring a dubious penalty in a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City. Their fall from grace at Anfield is quite remarkable considering they were unbeaten in the 68 games prior to their defeat to Burnley.

Klopp’s side can’t buy a goal at home at the moment and need to overcome this rather significant problem ahead of their clash with Madrid. They will face stern opposition from a Villa side that boasts the third-highest number of clean sheets in the league this season.

Dean Smith’s side have kept 14 clean sheets in 29 games this year, while they also possess the third-best defensive record in the Premier League. They are far less impressive on the front foot and only two clubs in the top 10 have scored fewer goals than them. It all points to a low-scoring affair on Saturday.

Ollie Watkins to score anytime

Watkins haunted Liverpool in the infamous 7-2 win earlier in the season when he completed a first-half hat-trick to score his first goals for his new club and he has the potential to inflict further damage on Klopp’s side on Saturday evening. Villa’s record signing has been crucial to their improved campaign this year and broke a seven-game scoring drought in Villa’s come-from-behind victory against Fulham.

The former Brentford striker has scored 11 league goals in his maiden campaign in the claret and blue and can add to that tally to help Villa push for a Europa League place this season.

Under 0.5 Liverpool goals in the first half

Liverpool’s first-half record at Anfield this year has not been pretty. The champions have failed to score in seven opening periods in 2021, barely troubling their opposition’s goal in any fixture at Anfield in recent months. Their general record in the first halves of games in 2021 has been remarkably poor.

Of their 13 league games this calendar year, Jurgen Klopp’s side have managed to score in the opening 45 minutes on just two occasions – with first-half goals against Tottenham and Wolves coming in stoppage time.

Coming up against a resolute Aston Villa defence, it is unlikely that an under-fire Liverpool will suddenly let loose. If they are to find a way through the Villa defence, it is likely to come after half-time considering Villa have conceded 61 per cent of their Premier League goals in the second half.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Liverpool v Aston Villa tips

Aston Villa (+1)
Under 2.5 goals
Ollie Watkins to score anytime
Under 0.5 Liverpool goals in the first half

All four of these selections in a Bet Builder pay out at approximately 22/1

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