One of the standout fixtures in the third round of this season's FA Cup will take place at Villa Park on Friday night as Aston Villa welcome a wounded Liverpool.
Villa, who are enjoying an impressive 2020-21 campaign, thumped Liverpool 7-2 in the Premier League earlier this season, but Dean Smith's side have been hit with a coronavirus outbreak ahead of the contest and are therefore expected to field a team of youngsters.
Villa only just survived in the Premier League last season but have enjoyed an impressive 2020-21 campaign to date, picking up 26 points from their 15 matches to sit eighth in the table.
Smith's side have only taken a point from their last two matches against Chelsea and Manchester United but are only three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand, while they have two matches in hand over the likes of Chelsea, Southampton, Leicester City and Liverpool.
The hosts, as mentioned, recorded an incredible 7-2 win over Liverpool in the league on October 4, but they have lost four of their last seven matches at home, including a surprise 1-0 defeat to Stoke City in the EFL Cup.
Villa have plenty of history in the FA Cup, winning the competition on seven occasions - the same as Liverpool - although their last success was back in 1957.
The top-flight club have actually gone out in the third round of the FA Cup in each of the past four seasons, meanwhile, losing to Tottenham, Peterborough United, Swansea City and Fulham, and it is going to be an uphill task for a team of youngsters against the English champions.
Liverpool will enter Friday's contest off the back of a 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Monday, which made it three games without a victory in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp's side are still top of the table, but second-placed Manchester United will have the chance to move to the summit ahead of their clash at Anfield on January 17.
The Reds have not been victorious since putting seven unanswered goals past Crystal Palace on December 19, and the team's issues in the final third have been slightly concerning in recent matches.
The English champions are entering a fascinating run of matches considering that two of their next three in the league are against Man United and Tottenham, while they will end the month of January with a difficult trip to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United.
Liverpool's recent record in the FA Cup is also disappointing, going out in the third round of the competition once and in the fourth round three times under Klopp's management. Last term, the Merseyside giants reached the fifth round before suffering a 2-0 defeat to eventual finalists Chelsea.
The team's away form entering this match is also concerning, winning just one of their last seven, and there is no question that Villa have the tools to harm what is expected to be a much-changed XI on Friday night.
Aston Villa FA Cup form: WLLLLL
Aston Villa form (all competitions): WDWWDL
Liverpool FA Cup form: LLWDWL
Liverpool form (all competitions): DWWDDL
As mentioned, a coronavirus outbreak in the first-team squad means that Villa will have to name a team of youngsters, with Under-23 boss Mark Delaney scheduled to replace Smith in the dugout.
Jacob Ramsey, Tom Heaton, Conor Hourihane, Marvelous Nakamba, Neil Taylor and Kortney Hausewere all expected to start, but it will now be an unfamiliar side for the hosts.
BirminghamLive journalist Ashley Preece put together a potential XI on Friday morning, with former Barcelona youngster Louie Barry being tipped to start.
As for Liverpool, Klopp is expected to make wholesale changes from the clash with Southampton, meaning that a new goalkeeper and new back four, potentially including James Milner, should take to the field.
Thiago Alcantara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could both keep their spots following spells on the sidelines, though, with Klopp likely to be keen to get minutes in their legs at this stage of the season.
Curtis Jones should also come into the starting side, while there could be three changes in attack with Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino all in line for starts at Villa Park.
Konstantinos Tsimikas, Diogo Jota, Joel Matip, Naby Keita, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk are all still injured for the Reds.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Marschall; Kesler, D.Reven, Bridge, Chrisene; Sylla, H.Sohna, Raikhy; Tait, Young, Barry
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Kelleher; N Williams, R Williams, Phillips, Milner; Jones, Thiago; Oxlade-Chamberlain; Minamino, Origi, Shaqiri
Source: Sports Mole / Matt Law