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Football News: Liverpool v Aston Villa - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Aston Villa - A Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v Aston Villa A Liverpool Perspective


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That was a difficult watch, with the referee having a terrible game, though Villa can probably be thankful to him for having no match management and allowing them to break up play constantly. Without his constant stoppages for nothing, they would have been under real pressure for sustained periods. Added to that, he only responded to their blatant time wasting when the crowd got on his back, showing how weak he is as a referee. Atwell also allowed a clear Salah dive to go unpunished, despite making it obvious that he thought it was one. That should have been a booking. However he should have booked Martinez for his blatant time wasting too.

I am sure Villa fans will be screaming right now about how they should have had a penalty, and they might have a point, but there was also one on Robertson that was not given, so not sure they can complain too much. The ref was just utterly abysmal, he looked completely out of his depth. It was a performance that reinforces your faith in the total incompetence of the English referee that Graham Poll did so much to establish.

The game itself was ruined by its stop start nature, though Liverpool were the better side until Villa actually had a go. There was little to pick out from a Liverpool point of view, as play was so bitty, other than it seemed like Oxlade-Chamberlain was far too deep to present a real problem to Villa. With his ability to run with the ball at pace, and his shooting power, he needed to put himself right on their centre-backs and force them to make decisions about who to track. Instead he dropped off into a congested midfield, as they were defending deep. It meant he offered little and the game changed when Jota came on and played higher up.


Aston Villa


You just have to wonder if they would have got more from the game if they had gone for it earlier, instead of waiting until they went behind. I understand the thinking, but Liverpool looked unusually fragile yesterday, I would have expected the Villa coaching staff to want to capitalise on that. Days like that are ones a strong tactical manager would have exploited. Instead you are left wondering what could have been for Villa.

I also find it bizarre that the commentators and pundits think Mings was on for man of the match before giving away a penalty making a needless challenge. That just shows that people prefer a defender to be out of position and having to make blocks and challenges that a defender positioned well would not have needed to risk. Konsa was doing that, he just seems to always be there, rather than throwing himself into the way last second like Mings. That is not an accident, he is simply better at defending.

The midfield for Villa were very good at protecting the defence, McGinn was excellent again and Nakamba, though a bit rash, is becoming one of the better players in the Premier League at breaking up play. The one weakness for me is Luiz, his highlight reel will be excellent as he does little flashes but overall he does not impose himself onto the game enough for my liking.




Klopp - I think he made one major mistake, starting with Oxlade-Chamberlain as the central forward player as he never got into the game at all. At least he changed it fairly early, but it turned out, with hindsight, to be a poor decision to put the Ox in there. I also feel persisting with Matip is the wrong choice. It is clear that he does not see Matip as the long term first choice and it would help the team if a clear centre-back partnership was established with his first choice pairing.


Alisson - had a mare, there is no other way to describe it. His slip early on seemed to make him nervous for the rest of the game. Yet he still goes home with a clean sheet on his record, which says a lot for how little Villa actually threatened.


Alexander-Arnold - he must be wondering how he has not gone home with another assist at least. As usual he provided some quality balls in. Defensively he was not really tested enough, which allowed him to keep pushing on.


Matip - caught a couple of times by straight balls over the top as usual, but Villa lacked the pace to make the most of that avenue of attack. It would also help if he would learn to communicate with Alisson better, my heart cannot handle more of their mix-ups! On the ball, he plays some good passes and his runs forward, while ungainly looking, seem to be unstoppable. Matip always looks on the verge of tripping over his own feet or giving it away, only to somehow emerge past a couple of players with the ball. It makes me so nervous but it is a great way to create openings against a packed defence.


van Dijk - an off day for van Dijk, defensively anyway. He was having one of his switched off, lackadaisical days. He made more errors in this one game than he usually makes in a month. On the ball, his long diagonal passes were still excellent. So, all in all, a mixed day for the big defender.


Robertson - caused havoc going forward, made some brilliant runs and linked well with Mane. He looked much more like the Robertson of old. With Villa's front 3 being so narrow he was able to charge forward at will.


Fabinho - while Villa's front three being narrow gave the full-backs more freedom, it restricted Fabinho a little more from being involved higher up the pitch. He was a little subdued due to having to be watchful and to ensure that he did not leave gaps for them to operate in.


Henderson - he is the driving force a lot of the time. I would like to see Alexander-Arnold being the one getting to the outside to cross it in more often, but it is effective at creating space for a ball in when they switch over their runs. It is just that the priority for me should be finding ways to get Alexander-Arnold in those areas as his delivery is better.


Thiago - not everyone's cup of tea, but for me Thiago makes a huge difference to Liverpool's play and control of the game. He is not always spectacular and he can skate very close to the wire in disciplinary terms, but he is brilliant at what he does. His return to fitness and Liverpool's improved form are not coincidental.


Mane - he might not have scored, but he was causing real problems down his side all game. With Robertson always providing an option, the pair of them gave Villa's right side a hard day.


Salah - early on he should have been booked for diving and the penalty on him could be considered soft, though for me Mings is a moron and just needed to shepherd him out, rather than give the referee a decision to make. If you challenge from behind in the penalty area it is always likely to be a penalty. The way Salah hit that penalty made it unsaveable and some of the skills he showed were brilliant. For once he was probably too unselfish though and should have shot more often. Which is something I did not think I would ever say about him!


Oxlade-Chamberlain - struggled badly. He has looked good recently in midfield, so not sure why Klopp wanted to play him there. I do understand the decision to drop Jota, who was awful last time out, but why not give Minamino the chance? Oxlade-Chamberlain gives his all but he was dropping too deep and failed to put any pressure on their defence, making it easier for them to deal with Mane and Salah.


Jota - replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 58th minute. His arrival changed the game, even if he was not particularly good. Just having someone occupy the centre-backs helped out massively. Sometimes a player does not need to play at their best to be a big help to a team performance and this was one of those times.


Milner - was brought on in the 83rd minute to take Thiago's place. I am not sure his arrival actually helped Liverpool to be honest. I love Milner but Thiago's ball usage and retention help keep Liverpool on top in matches. As soon as he went off that was gone and Villa were able to really take the game to the Reds. That is no fault of Milner's and he played his part in keeping a clean sheet.


Minamino replaced Mane in the 88th minute. He needed more time to have an effect. For me he deserves a run of games to see what he can do in that central slot.

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Written by Tris Burke December 13 2021 01:00:16


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