Tonight’s match officials
Referee Craig Pawson
Assistant Referees Stuart Burt and Richard West
Fourth Official Anthony Taylor
VAR Paul Tierney (VAR will only be used in third round ties played at Premier League grounds)
The shoe is on the other foot …
Tonight’s match marks a reversal of the occasion when these sides met in the League Cup in December 2019, when Liverpool’s obligations in the World Club Cup in Qatar meant they were forced to field a team with an average of 19 against Villa.
On that occasion, Villa triumphed 5-0 but might possibly have shown their whey-faced opponents rivals more mercy if they had seen tonight’s game coming down the pipe.
FA Cup third round: Aston Villa v Liverpool
Welcome to our coverage of one of the opening games in what, with apologies to Louis Theroux, promises to be a particularly weird FA Cup third round weekend.
With crowds locked out of stadiums and various teams being affected by Covid-19 outbreaks on an unprecedented level, the wisdom of even going ahead with this season’s FA Cup has been questioned, but for now the show goes on in the face of this unprecedented adversity.
Tonight’s match at Villa Park had been in serious doubt following an outbreak of the virus in the Villa camp and we wish all those affected by it well.
While both teams were always likely to field below strength sides following their festive exertions, Villa have been left with no option but to field a team of youngsters, none of whom are part of a senior squad whose Covid positive members are now isolating.
Villa manager Dean Smith and his coaching staff will also be absent from tonight’s proceedings, with Mark Delaney, the club’s under-23 coach, set to pick the team and provide guidance from the technical area.
Kick-off at Villa Park is at 7.45pm GMT, but stay tuned in the meantime for what promises to be fairly intriguing team news from both sides on a night when plenty of youngsters will get an unexpected chance to strut their stuff in front of the TV cameras.