Villa find themselves unlucky in their loss at Anfield, but individual errors helped the Reds to victory.
Aston Villa were hoping to prolong Liverpool’s misery at Anfield following their impressive comeback victory against Fulham last week. Villa initially put themselves ahead through Ollie Watkins, the ex-Brentford man scoring the twelfth goal of this maiden Premier League campaign. Dean Smith’s men then shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion, resulting in a defeat and an unfulfilled opportunity to jump ahead of Everton and Leeds United into eighth place.
Before we go through the game, let’s take a look at the starting elevens for each side.
Liverpool Starting XI:
Aston Villa XI:
Right from the start, as expected, Liverpool dominated possession forcing Villa to counter-attack when they had the opportunity to do so. Neither team created too much, however, Liverpool looked far more likely to break the deadlock owing to the fact that they had the advantage in quality, possession and chance creation. Whilst not creating much, Liverpool created almost all of the best chances that were presented to them. Villa were extremely poor on the offensive front, not being able to get a shot on target for over half an hour and when the Villans did get a shot or two on target, the efforts were very tame to say the least. Alisson went most of the first period untested.
Despite Villa’s inability to create a great deal, Villa struck the decisive blow of the first half when McGinn found himself in a bit of space laying it off to Watkins, who took his touch, turned, and buried his shot past a despairing Alisson who probably should have saved the shot. Villa were in the lead at Anfield!
Then, just moments before half time, the champions thought they had equalised through Roberto Firmino – but VAR intervened and adjudged the goal to be offside, with Cash not playing the ball. A ridiculous decision, even if it did benefit the Villa. The half-time whistle was promptly blown with Villa holding the advantage against the run of play, although Liverpool were nowhere near their sparkling best and if Villa could hold their own and perhaps extend their lead in the second half, the Reds were there for the taking. The Villans were also looking solid for the most part the team would have been quietly confident.
The second half began much like the first, with Liverpool holding the advantage in terms of possession. But, like Villa, they seemed unable to string many passes together before gifting the ball back to the opposition. It must be said that Liverpool were showing far more quality going forward than they did in the first, but again, they couldn’t execute the final pass to score, so Villa held all the cards going into the remainder of the second half.
As previously mentioned, Liverpool were looking better going forward and the Reds soon found their equaliser when a precise and decisive passing move resulted in Salah slotting the ball home to equalise for Liverpool. All square at Anfield.
For much of the rest of the game, it was much like the first, with very little creativity on either side to note and chances were few and far between. Then, the best chance of the game came for Villa came through Trezeguet, but the Egyptian saw his effort hit the inside of the post and cleared. The winger was then forced off with an injury, rubbing salt into gaping wounds.
Going into the final part of the game, both sides were looking to grab a late winner to secure the three points which was huge for either side as Liverpool could jump into the top four, whereas Villa could leap ahead of Leeds and Everton into eighth place. After a flurry of substitutions from both sides and missed chances and passes from the two teams it was heartbreak for the Villa – Martinez made a top-class save from Salah only for the subsequent clearance to land at Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was able to curl a fantastic shot into the bottom corner to hand Klopp’s side all three points. Villa had missed the opportunity to do their first double over the Reds since 1992/93, made worse by the fact that a different passing decision at certain points in the game may have resulted in all three points, or at the very least, one.
Villa will move on to Manchester City at Villa Park next weekend and can take heart from the fact that they made it difficult for Liverpool and even though Villa should have taken something from the game, Villa can take heart from the overall performance.
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