LIVERPOOL 3 – 2 ASTON VILLA

Liverpool are back to winning ways. Most fans will be happy to see us being victorious once again, however anybody that wanted Brendan Rodgers to lose his job may actually be unhappy about our  victory over Aston Villa.

It’s been well publicised by media all over the world that Brendan is very close to being fired if he doesn’t improve. Had we lost this game, it’s possible he would have lost his job over the defeat and that’s something many fans want at the moment – a fresh face in charge of our squad. The only possible down side to our win is for the fans who just want Rodgers gone and replaced with someone else already and that’s less likely to happen directly after the team has been victorious or successful. However, if “victory” and “success” were measured by how many trophies have been won for the club, Rodgers is entirely unsuccessful in winning any trophy and should be fired for not being victorious in that way. Anyway, let’s get back to the game today and focus on a new potential manager another time. Rodgers’ job is safe for now and that’s that.

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The Liverpool squad was largely like the one we had used in the cup, with a few changes here and there. First of all, injury concerns have become an unfortunate issue for Dejan Lovren, Roberto Firmino, Christian Benteke and we also haven’t seen Jordan Henderson in weeks due to broken bones in his foot.

Daniel Sturridge returned to active duty as a starting 11 striker, though he may be using Danny Ings as a striking partner (assuming Rodgers is smart enough to keep playing a formation with 2 strikers) instead of Benteke for a while. It would have been nice to see Benteke play against his old side shortly after transferring from Aston Villa to Liverpool this summer but it wasn’t to be. Maybe he’ll make the away game against them on our return to Villa Park later in the season.

The start of the game was full of excitement and I hope all fans were in their seats from the referee’s first whistle of the game because anyone who wasn’t in their allocated space at Anfield by the 2nd minute of the game missed out on the James Milner goal.

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That’s right, it took less than two minutes (some sites actually reported it as being 1 minute and six seconds, which technically counts as being about 6 seconds into the second minute, but isn’t even 120 seconds) for our “acting” captain James Milner to make his way near the Villa penalty area and receive the ball from Coutinho before striking the ball with his left foot low and hard into the bottom right hand corner of their net. Liverpool 1 – 0 Aston Villa. 

I think perhaps this was part of a response to some fans who had been complaining that we couldn’t even beat Carlisle in 90 (or 120) minutes of the game we played recently – it had taken a penalty shootout after extra time to defeat the League Two side. Well, we can also come out fighting and score within 2 minutes against a major Premier League side and go on to beat them within 90 minutes, clearly. Nothing is impossible if you’re patient enough to wait long enough to see it happen. Some fans have been waiting over 25 years to see Liverpool win the league again. That’s a real test of patience and support. A supporter’s love for their club and determination is the only thing that will keep you coming back as you wait for what you want.

Though Liverpool had started so strongly, it was surprising that there was only a single goal in the first half. We attacked many times in the first 45 minutes, but perhaps the shock of conceding so early on hit Villa so hard that they were just spending the rest of that half trying their best not to let any more goals  in and were successful in doing this if it truly was their objective.

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Liverpool played a clean game, both sides did in fact. The referee didn’t have to show a single card to any of the players in the entire game as “fair play” was most certainly a part of this fixture. The Villa fans won’t be able to claim that their team lost because “Liverpool were cheating”. Reds fans all know we play a fair game, but other supporters have been known to make a few wild accusations of “they won by cheating” when they’ve known the sting of defeat and it’s almost always not true when talking about us. It’s just not our style. Liverpool have been winning their games legitimately for many years.

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The start of the second half was almost as exciting as the start of the first. We came out fighting and Coutinho was showing his magic once again. He wasn’t done with the game just yet and was continuing to be a key part of our offensive plays, either shooting himself or unselfishly setting up someone else so that one of his teammates could have their chance at scoring.

Captain James Milner scored himself and assisted Liverpool’s 1st goal of the 2nd half

Within quarter of an hour into the second half, Liverpool had their second goal of the game. Surprisingly, it was not Coutinho who assisted this goal, it was our captain James Milner who had played his part in passing a through ball to Daniel Sturridge who must have been waiting for many months to get back and put the ball in the net at Anfield once again.

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It was special even just watching it on TV and the Reds fans at Anfield really must have enjoyed seeing Dan doing what he does best once again right in front of them and doing his unique “Sturridge dance” after the ball was in the net. It must be great to be able to say “I was there at Anfield when Sturridge made his return to regular action after months of injury and scored for us, then did his dance!”. These moments are part of what makes supporting our club so wonderful. You can wait for so very long before you get something spectacular back again and it feels so very good when it returns.

Liverpool 2 – 0 Aston Villa.

Sturridge did his dance after scoring his first goal in many months at Anfield

Sturridge did his dance after scoring his first goal in many months at Anfield

Now that Liverpool had a two goal lead, Villa had a real dilemma on their hands – do they sit back and attempt to just not concede any more goals, or do they push their players up the pitch to make some more offensive plays and attempt to score, despite the fact that their defence will be weaker as Liverpool counter-attack? Their decision seemed to be the 2nd choice.

Around 7 minutes after Liverpool’s 2nd goal, Aston Villa made a quick substitute and scored a goal of their own. Alan Hutton would cross the ball in to Rudy Gestede and he managed to throw his body down to the ground feet first and slide into it inside of the 6 yard box, smashing the ball into the net from close range. Simon Mignolet would dive, but the shot was so powerful and from so near the goal already that he would not make it far enough across the goal in time to save us from conceding.

Liverpool 2 -1 Aston Villa.

It took Liverpool less than two minutes to respond to this, with another goal of our own.

Daniel Sturridge had ran all the way down to the Villa penalty area and for a while, it seemed as if he was trying to go it alone until he came up against some defenders. Not deterred from still making an attack on goal despite being surrounded by Villa players who wanted to win the ball from him, he would play a “1-2” with Coutinho and at the moment he had received the ball back from the Brazilian, he slot the ball right into the bottom right corner of the net and his celebration for this goal was to point directly at Coutinho – acknowledgement for his part in the build up to the goal obviously.

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Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa

For any (most likely younger) fans who are unsure what a “1-2” is – watch the goal and it will become clear, as it was a perfect example of this offensive play. I’ll explain it for you though. It’s basically when an attacking player who has the ball gives it to a teammate, continues their run (without the ball now), receives the ball back again quickly (now in a more offensive position than they started in due to their run) and then eventually finishes the entire move once they have been able to get past the defenders and finally make their shot on goal. It takes practice to perfect the 1-2 and doesn’t always result in a goal, but if you work on it it with teammates in training and get it just right, it usually does. Classic offensive plays like this pay off if you can pull them off, although you usually must do so under the pressure of defenders who want to tackle you and win the ball (which isn’t easy – you have to give the ball to a teammate and then receive it back from them again without any interruption). I’d say Coutinho and Sturridge have worked on this at Melwood to perfect it and it’s finally paid off for them in a Premier League fixture.

For Daniel Sturridge’s amazing “comeback” (return to regular football after months of injury) and his two goals, I name Sturridge as my Man Of The Match.

 

Coutinho and Sturridge may have been working hard at Melwood Training Ground to perfect their football

Coutinho and Sturridge look like they have been working hard at Melwood Training Ground to perfect their football

Aston Villa weren’t done with the game yet, though. It was only about 4 to 5 minutes later when Rudy Gestede showed what he could do for the fans again. Jordan Amavi crossed the ball from the right wing directly in front of Rudy and he headed the ball from about ten yards out, with Simon Mignolet helpless to stop the powerful headed shot crashing right past him and into the back of the net. There had been about 70 minutes of play by now, but Aston Villa hadn’t seemed like they were going to accept defeat and kept on threatening Liverpool with more and more attacks.

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They didn’t go down without a fight and as one of the Reds fans, I don’t mind being honest and admitting that I had doubts about whether we were going to end up with yet another draw and a single point from this fixture, but we held on long enough (the next 20 minutes) to just keep the single goal lead we had and eventually came out as winners from the 3-2 scoreline. If Rodgers thinks a single win will stop the fans from calling for his replacement though, he’s so very wrong. A win here and a win there occasionally may hold off the “Rodgers out” crowd for a while but we want more than random victories and fully deserve to have a truly successful manager in charge at our club.
He’ll have to win a trophy by the end of this season or he will still suffer the sacking he’d deserve for failing to bring any silverware to the club in all the years he’s been manager. The fans want our club to make history, not just have random good form. Form is temporary. History is FOREVER.

Liverpool will continue our season at home as we keep on playing at Anfield, the next game being a Europa League fixture for FC Sion on the first day of October (8PM kickoff).

Walk on, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

[written by] Stuart Drewery.

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I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

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