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Football News: Liverpool vs Aston Villa - A Liverpool (but not Ed001) Perspective

Liverpool vs Aston Villa - A Liverpool (but not Ed001) Perspective
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It may not have been deja vu but there were enough similarities between this and the Wolves game for it to be at least noteworthy. Opposition sitting very deep and compact looking to break? Check. Opposition time wasting at every opportunity? Check. Narrow margin of victory? Check.

In truth I thought Villa looked much better than Wolves, when they did start attacking after going a goal down they caused problems and we were under serious pressure. They always carried a threat on the counter and I thought it was a more consistent, dangerous one than Wolves' punts to Traore. Watkins was a handful she never stopped working, Ramsey looked very good on the ball but just didn't get on it enough, and both fullbacks looked capable of providing a dangerous outlet if only they had been allowed to do so earlier on. Much was made of Gerrard's return and whilst Villa were well organized and hard working they were stifled by their own managers negative approach and, ultimately, didn't do enough to deserve anything from the game.

We suffered similar issues to those against Wolves in that we didn't make our chances pay, especially once the game was open at 1-0. I thought our final ball was much poorer against Villa though and the wrong choices at the wrong times continuously unraveled good passages of play. It is encouraging that we are able to grind out wins though, whilst 3 points is always welcome, I would prefer a much more stress free game than the one provided.

A special mention to referee Atwell as well who was useless from start to finish. From stopping the game flowing with his failure to play advantages, to caving in to both sides diving to award free kicks, for a complete and utter failure to prevent time wasting, it was a master class in incompetence in what was not a particularly difficult game to referee.




Klopp - I thought the substitutions made sense, particularly Jota for Ox, though it was actually the Milner for Thiago decision that helped steady the ship and enabled the team to do the dirty work as and when required. Overall good though I suspect he will be wanting the team to rediscover its clinical edge sooner rather than later.

Alisson - this wasn't his best performance and, though he just about managed to thwart Ings and avoid conceding a penalty, he was indecisive on a number of occasions. His errors gave Villa some of there brightest openings and his communication with his teammates was sorely lacking at times. From what I observed he seemed unhappy with his boots in the teeming rain, it looked like they weren't gripping enough, and it made him hesitant when coming to claim balls. Hopefully it is addressed as it won't be the last game played in such conditions.

Robertson - he provided some of our best outlets getting forward and his link up with Mane was very good. I did think though that he was going over too easily and "looking" for penalties and I think that is why the referee didn't award any for him. I don't like diving at all and he is better than that, aside from that I thought he attacked and defended well and was one of our better players on the day.

TAA - provided a few wicked deliveries but was overall kept somewhat quiet in terms of his attacking threat. Defensively he was good though he seemed to struggle with Ramsey early on. Improved as the game went on.

VVD - had a few casual moments early on but was solid thereafter. Alisson's uncertainty seemed to affect him as well and he looked flustered at times which is very unlike him. Even when he has a lesser game he is still very good and gives little away and, luckily that was the case again. Was unlucky not to score from a corner, his effort well-saved.

Matip - the ball over the top behind him always seems on and Villa looked to hit that frequently. He defended well at times but seemed positionally suspect at others however, like Virgil, he was switched on and defended well when they started to apply pressure more sternly. His runs from deep are entertaining, and actually quite effective at times, but it is only a matter of time before opponents really start targeting him when he does this, I fear it is going to cost us at some point.

Fabinho - Man of the Match - had a much tougher test this game and I thought he did well. He broke up attacks effectively, his passing was accurate, and he constantly made himself available for the pass. In fact he took up excellent positions many times but his team mates just didn't seem to find him. Overall he was very good, very tidy, did little wrong, was quietly competent and our best player in my opinion (Robertson narrowly missed out) .

Thiago - struggled much more this game, the work rate and tenacity of Nakamba and McGinn made his life much more difficult - in terms of both trying to win the ball back and of getting on the ball and using it - and as a result he was less effective. There were still some nice passes, good touches, etc but he was just not as effective and I thought substituting him was the right decision.

Henderson - I thought he was ok first half but again seemed to be occupying the right hand side of the field a lot which just causes a cluster of players to form in that area. He seemed to be in a more classically central position in the second half and I thought he had more impact and say it in the game when he was there.

Salah - his penalty was unsavable and it had to be as Martinez was damn close to it so plaudits for that. He is always a handful and he was again, I thought the penalty was clear cut, and his overall energy and pressing was good. His passing wasn't up to scratch at times though and he, like others, was guilty of making the wrong decision at the wrong time, especially later in the game. Good, but he can be better.

Mane - his link up with Robertson was exceptional yet his link up with everyone else was very poor, it was really strange and again he slowed things down multiple times when a bit of quick, incisive play might have opened them up more effectively. Overall ok but far from his best game.

Ox - in fairness playing as a forward is not his natural position and I think it showed first half. His movement wasn't great and it allowed Villa's defense to remain very stable and organized as there was nobody really testing them with dangerous movement. There will be teams that Ox can be effective against but when it's teams sitting deep looking to counter I do not think he is the person to unlock defenses, at least not as a forward - his industry and drive might have been better suited to the midfield. His substitution was justified I think but I don't think he played particularly badly, he was simply played in a position that doesn't really suit him.


Jota - brought on for Ox and his movement certainly made life more difficult for their backline. We took the lead not long after and then things became open. I thought his pressing and positioning out of possession, when Villa started pushing, was poor though and that he didn't do enough. He also missed another glorious chance that would have killed off the game. I rate Jota highly and think he adds a great, extra dimension to our team, but he needs to bring his best more consistently.

Milner - was in the thick of it from the get go and really helped combat Villa's push towards the end. He wasn't on for too long but his impact had the desired effect and we were able to see out the game.

Minamino - he didn't have long enough to really make an impact.



You have to grind out wins at times and we did it again despite some serious pressure from Villa. We seemed to lack a bit of flow at times, not helped by the stop-start nature of the first half, and it meant that we had lots of possession but not much by the way of clear cut opportunities. We were brighter second half and Jota coming on certainly caused more uncertainty in their backline. After the goal Villa's entire approach changed and, had they been a little more ambitious earlier in the game, might've taken something by the end. I think there were flaws and errors we can improve upon, but these sort of games are part and parcel of a league season and it's a good sign that we can win without reaching our exhilarating best. It feels like this season will go down to the wire, especially when referees gift City and Chelsea the softest of penalties, so we need to keep grinding and winning. Of course I'd much prefer a 5-0 romp, it's certainly easier on the nerves, but these results that we are grinding out are the foundation of title-winning seasons. I'm not saying we will win the title, I'm saying we will need to grind out 3 points like this every now and then to be in with a chance, and it is encouraging that we are able to do so.

Written by Seano_ December 12 2021 20:17:32


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