Liverpool will be confident of progressing to the FA Cup final when they face off against fellow Premier League side Aston Villa at Wembley on Sunday (15:00 BST, live on BT Sport).
Liverpool come into the match on the back of six wins, three defeats and one draw in their last 10 matches in all competitions. They are fifth in the Premier League table, with 57 points from 17 wins, six draws and nine defeats.
Brendan Rodgers’ side recorded a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Newcastle on Monday. The away side were unable to deal with the pace and movement of Liverpool’s front three of Jordon Ibe, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, and also offered little threat to Simon Mignolet’s goal. Strikes in either half from Sterling and Joe Allen led Liverpool to victory.
It was a welcome result for the Reds following consecutive defeats that had brought to an end the 13-match unbeaten streak that had put them firmly in top-four contention following a poor start to the campaign. With a four-point gap to fourth, Champions League qualification now looks difficult but not impossible given the poor form of Manchester City ahead of them.
Liverpool overcame AFC Wimbledon, Bolton Wanderers (via a replay), Crystal Palace and Blackburn Rovers (again via a replay) to progress to the last four of the FA Cup. While their progress has been far from smooth, having reached this stage they now have an excellent chance of going through to the final three years after their last, losing, final appearance.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Jon Flanagan (knee) and Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) and the cup-tied Ibe for this match, while Adam Lallana (groin) and Daniel Sturridge (hip) are both doubtful. Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard return from suspension.
Aston Villa travel south on the back of four wins, one draw and four defeats in all competitions since Tim Sherwood (pictured) replaced Paul Lambert in mid-February. They are 15th in the Premier League table, with 32 points from eight wins, eight draws and 17 defeats.
Sherwood gained some revenge for being released from his temporary contract as Tottenham Hotspur head coach at the end of last season by leading his Villa side to a 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane last weekend. Christian Benteke’s first-half strike from an early Leandro Bacuna cross was the difference between the sides in a fairly even match.
It was an important victory for Villa after a three-game winless streak. The three points saw them move six points clear of the relegation zone, thus providing them with just a little breathing room ahead of the final weeks of the season. However, four of the five teams below them have played at least one less match, and their job is therefore far from done.
Benteke has been the primary beneficiary of Sherwood’s arrival. He has scored eight times in his last six league matches, including a hat-trick in the draw with Queens Park Rangers. The Belgian scored the first goal of Villa’s FA Cup campaign in a 1-0 win over Blackpool. Further wins over Bournemouth, Leicester and West Brom have taken them to the final four.
Sherwood will definitely be without the injured Ciaran Clark (knee), Chris Herd (knee) and Libor Kozak (lack of match fitness) and the suspended Carlos Sanchez, while Alan Hutton (ankle), Aly Cissokho (knock), Ashley Westwood (hamstring), Carles Gil (leg), Gabriel Agbonlahor (hamstring), Philippe Senderos (calf) and Scott Sinclair (hamstring) are all doubtful.
Liverpool v Aston Villa FA Cup Semi-Final Betting Tips
These sides have already met twice in the league this season, with Villa winning 1-0 at Anfield and Liverpool recording a 2-0 win at Villa Park. Their last 10 meetings in all competitions have yielded five wins for Liverpool and three for Villa. Liverpool have won six of their seven previous meetings in the FA Cup, with Villa’s last win coming back in 1897.
Liverpool are one of the most successful teams in the history of the FA Cup, with only three sides having won the competition more times than the Reds. Rodgers has no major silverware to his name in his relatively short managerial career to date and will clearly be keen to take advantage of what is an excellent chance to reach this year’s final.
Villa are tied with Liverpool fourth in the ranking of FA Cup winners, with seven triumphs to their name. However, their last success came back in 1957, while they haven’t reached the final since their defeat to Chelsea in 2000. They have shown more attacking intent under Sherwood but will have to be wary of providing Liverpool too much space at the other end.
Liverpool are the bookies’ favourites and should be expected to advance to the final.
- Back Liverpool -1 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of evens with Paddy Power. The bet pays out if Liverpool win by more than one goal, while you stake is returned if they win by one.
- Over 60% of Liverpool’s league goals this season have been scored after half-time, while Villa have made a habit of conceding late on. In the FA Cup, the second half has been the highest scoring half in all four of Villa’s and in three of Liverpool’s four matches that saw goals. Back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ 11/10 with BetVictor.