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Aston Villa vs. Liverpool: Hosts ‘expected to progress to semi-final’ against youthful away side

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At first glance, the bookmakers appear to have priced the odds on Tuesday night’s EFL Cup quarter-final between Aston Villa and Liverpool the wrong way around.

The Villains are 2/7 to win in 90 minutes and progress to the semi-final, with the draw 11/2 and a Liverpool win also 11/2.

This is, of course, because the bulk of Liverpool’s first-team squad – including manager Jurgen Klopp – aren’t even in the country at present.

20 players and the first-team coaching staff have flown to Qatar for the Club World Cup, which begins for the Reds on Wednesday night against Mexican outfit Monterrey.

From the starting eleven which defeated Arsenal in the previous round on penalties after a thrilling 5-5 draw, only goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, defender Sepp van den Berg and winger Harvey Elliott are available for the trip to Villa.

Forward Rhian Brewster, who has been linked with a loan move to Villa in January, was not in the travelling squad to Qatar but will reportedly miss out through injury.

Under 23’s manager Neil Critchley will take charge of the side in Klopp’s absence.

With Villa only outside of the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference ahead of Saturday’s forthcoming opponents Southampton, they could choose to rest key players for this one.

However, unlike Liverpool, they have a host of senior back-up players to call upon; moreover, a cup semi-final to look forward to would certainly help lift spirits in the dressing room and stadium alike.

Given the likely age and quality gap which could be on display, then, 4/6 on Aston Villa to win the match by two or more goals looks good value in front of a potentially raucous home atmosphere.

I'm a freelance sports journalist who has worked for Goal & Bleacher Report amongst others. Get in touch, you're more than welcome to do so via Twitter.

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