22 July 2024

HOT VIEW;Liverpool team Said Klopp must unleash £50k-p/w “warrior” today

Liverpool welcome Aston Villa to Anfield this afternoon as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to claim their third successive Premier League win of the season, having drawn at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the season opener.

 

Last season, the Reds endured a miserable campaign and failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in seven seasons after finishing fifth.

Even that somewhat flatters the overall discourse of the campaign; Liverpool were shocking until the closing stages of the term, with a late-season purple patch salvaging European football.

 

Villa qualified for the Europa Conference League under Unai Emery’s stewardship in a tremendous rise, and despite falling flat against Newcastle United to start their campaign, losing 5-1 at St. James’ Park, the Villa Park side have rebounded with wins over Everton and BurnleyKlopp will understand the task at hand, but will be confident that the home side will secure three points, closing the gap on league leaders and defending champions Manchester City to just two points.

 

What is the Liverpool team news vs Aston Villa?

Klopp will be forced to field a new centre-defensive pairing on Sunday, with Ibrahima Konate out injured and captain Virgil van Dijk suspended after receiving a red card against Newcastle last weekend.In midfield, Curtis Jones could return after injury, while Stefan Bajcetic may receive his first outing of the term after making the bench for the past two match weeks; Thiago Alcantara has suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a long-term issue and will remain sidelined.

Multi-functional midfielder Ryan Gravenberch will not play after completing a £34m move on deadline day from Bayern Munich, having failed to be registered in time for the final fixture before the term’s first international break.

 

Up front, Darwin Nunez will be pushing for his first start of the season after a “razor-sharp” – as said by Sky Sports commentator Peter Drury – cameo against the Magpies, where his brace gave ten-man Liverpool an unlikely, galvanising victory.

Will Wataru Endo start vs Aston Villa?

With Gravenberch unable to participate this weekend, Klopp might be inclined to hand Wataru Endo his second successive start in the Premier League after signing from German side Stuttgart in a £16m deal in August.

 

The Japan captain’s arrival raised more than a few eyebrows; Liverpool had been in pursuit of Romeo Lavia and Moises Caicedo to fill the void left by Fabinho and Jordan Henderson’s departures to Saudi Arabian sides, but both ended up joining Chelsea.

 

Endo, relatively unknown outside the Bundesliga, could prove to be a shrewd investment for Klopp’s side, with transfer guru Fabrizio Romano even saying: “he’s an extremely underrated player, ask Stuttgart fans.”

A tenacious, tough-tackling midfielder, Endo is indeed likely to retain a starting berth in Liverpool’s team in the absence of any other defensive midfielder.

 

Against Newcastle, he didn’t produce the finest, slickest display in memory but did demonstrate his defensive skills, making two tackles and winning four of his seven duels, important in preventing Eddie Howe’s side from capitalising after going a man and goal down in the opening half-hour.

 

Thiago remains an absentee, and given that teenage talent Stefan Bajcetic has yet to play a minute this term following his own return from a long-term injury, his reintegration might be better placed through a substitute appearance.

Why should Wataru Endo start vs Aston Villa?

Described as a “proper warrior and leader” by Bundesliga commentator Kevin Thatchard, Endo has been a stalwart for Stuttgart in their battles against relegation in the German top-flight.

 

Having made 133 appearances for die Schwaben, posting 15 goals and 12 assists, Endo has indeed been crucial to the club’s flow and industriousness.

 

The 50-cap international was in fine fettle last season, recording an average rating of 6.99 in the Bundesliga – as per Sofascore – across his 33 displays, scoring five goals and supplying four assists, completing 80% of his passes, averaging 1.4 key passes per game and making 2.1 tackles and 1.8 clearances each match.

To showcase his defensive qualities, FBref ranks Endo among the top 7% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for clearance and aerial wins per 90.

 

The £50k-per-week ace’s inclusion against the Lions will be imperative, with Emery’s outfit ravenous for a continuation of the fantastic, Europe-clinching feats of last year.

 

During Liverpool’s opening match against Chelsea last month, the club’s lack of control without an established No. 6 was clear for all to see, with the Stamford Bridge side retaining 65% of possession and completing 87% of their passes as opposed to Liverpool’s 80%.For reference, last year, despite the Merseyside outfit’s struggles, only champions Manchester City completed more passes than Liverpool. Against Chelsea this season, that tactical philosophy went out the window.

 

Emery’s Villa thrive through organisation and discipline, maintaining a compact shape and as such nullifying the advances of the opposition.

 

They also utilise overloaded midfielders, with the Spaniard manager not shy to field the likes of John McGinn on the wing, allowing the full-backs to overlap and supplement the attack.

 

Endo will be crucial in preventing this, having completed 88% of his passes in the Premier League thus far, also averaging two ball recoveries and 1.5 tackles and clearances per match.

By deploying the hard-working ace in the holding midfield role, the likes of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai could see their creative qualities shine through, with Aston Villa’s heavy defeat against Newcastle evidence that the Midlands outfit is susceptible to swift attacking transitions and incisive play.

 

Highlighting his strengths prior to the confirmation of Endo’s move to Anfield, The Athletic’s Seb Stafford-Boor said: “He is a ball-winner, but he’ll do a fine job protecting the defence. He can play too, though.”

 

The hope will be that as he acclimatises to life on Merseyside, the veteran midfielder maintains these core qualities as he gels with Klopp’s squad, and against Villa, his inclusion as the all-action defensive component could prove to be the difference-maker.

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