Daring midfield choice, new Leon Bailey role - Aston Villa predicted XI gallery vs Liverpool

Unai Emery is expected to make some big starting XI decisions ahead of Aston Villa vs Liverpool on Boxing Day.

Aston Villa make their highly anticipated return to Premier League action on Boxing Day as they play host to Liverpool at Villa Park. Unai Emery started turning things around for the Villans before the World Cup break began seven weeks ago, and now he has the chance to build on the improved platform he has built.

The former Arsenal man made quite the impression in his first three matches which included two successive league victories - against Manchester United and Brighton - and a narrow Carabao Cup defeat away at the latter. At that point, the Spaniard hadn’t had long to get to know his new squad, but now he has had plenty of time to instill his preferred playing style.

Liverpool have had the chance to regroup after a disastrous start to the season, as they currently sit down in sixth place with just six wins in their opening 14 matches. Even despite the disappointing early form under Steven Gerrard, Villa are actually just four points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side as it stands.

The Reds showed a slight improvement at the start of November with a 3-1 win over Southampton and 2-1 victory away at Tottenham Hotspur, but they still have a lot of work to do. Lagging 15 points behind league leaders Arsenal, it seems Liverpool are a completely different prospect as an opposition compared to recent seasons.

Even still, a huge challenge awaits for Emery and his men to get a positive result upon the return of competitive play. With that in mind, this is the rather strong starting XI we think the 51-year-old will field while taking into account a few absentees.

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