‘Curtis Jones deserves a go’
Ian Doyle: There’s no point having a big squad if you aren’t going to use it.
And Liverpool should consider some changes for what is admittedly approaching a must-win fixture.
Defensively there appears little wriggle room. However, elsewhere Jurgen Klopp can make changes.
One should be in formation, with a switch to 4-2-3-1 helping quell Aston Villa’s runners from deep that caused them all sorts of problems in October.
Fabinho can be joined in those defensive positions by James Milner against his former club.
Ahead of them, Curtis Jones deserves a go, with Diogo Jota on the left and Mohamed Salah on the right, Sadio Mane given a breather.
Up top, it’s Roberto Firmino.
My team (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner; Salah, Jones, Jota; Firmino.
‘Jota starts alongside Firmino, Salah and Mane’
Paul Gorst: A first game at Anfield in over a month offers Liverpool the chance to bring a fresh perspective to their home fixtures.
Six straight defeats may be the most unwanted of club records, but that can be put right today.
To achieve that, though, Jurgen Klopp may need to reconfigure his midfield makeup to see off Aston Villa and get back to winning – and scoring – ways ahead of Real Madrids visit next week.
The back five, for me, stays as it is. Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips are Liverpools best defensive pairing at the moment so they stay.
In midfield, Im plucking for Gini Wijnaldum and Fabinho in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
That means Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino start together alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
My team (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Phillips, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Jota, Mane; Firmino.
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‘Formation change with Madrid on the horizon’
Sean Bradbury: Stick or twist? That is the big question for Liverpool ahead of the crunch clash against Real Madrid.
The answer for me is to switch to a 4-2-3-1.
And even though Villa in itself is a huge game, I would give the formation change a trial run today.
The backline stays as it is. Realistically the Reds have very little choice to rotate on that front.
In midfield Fabinho and Thiago start as a duo.
Hopefully there is scope to withdraw at least one of them early with the Champions League in mind if circumstances allow for it.
And Sadio Mane gets a breather in attack.
Roberto Firmino lines up behind Diogo Jota out left, Mohamed Salah central and Xherdan Shaqiri on the right.
My team (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago; Shaqiri, Firmino, Jota; Salah.
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‘Andy Robertson rested and a new-look front three’
Theo Squires: With Liverpool’s home form in 2021 so atrocious, they have to win against Aston Villa. It’s not only crucial for their top four hopes, but also to give them their best chance of overcoming Real Madrid.
And with that clash with the La Liga giants in mind, I’m using Saturday’s game as a dress rehearsal with minimum rotation.
An exception at left-back, Kostas Tsimikas can come in for a first Premier League start ahead of a tired Andy Robertson but the rest of the back five stays the same.
Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara both start in the midfield three with there being no swift reprieve for Naby Keita.
I want to start James Milner against Madrid, the Reds will desperately need his leadership skills for that one, so he can sit this out with Curtis Jones the man to fill in instead.
And it’s got to a stage where Sadio Mane’s form is worse than Roberto Firmino. Birthday boy or not, the Senegalese drops out with the Brazilian reclaiming his starting role and Diogo Jota moving to the left.
Hopefully this new-look front three can click against Villa before being unleashed on Zinedine Zidane’s men.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Jones, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Jota.
‘Curtis Jones deserves a go’