Où est le hoof?
Impressive. It was like watching a team we haven’t seen in the Villa colours for a while. One that you could be proud of supporting. Villa bossed Liverpool from the start and made it hard for the home team to ever get a real foothold in the game. If it wasn’t for a certain Mr Suarez, it would have been back-to-back wins at Anfield, although the team’s resilience was welcome in not letting a point slip. No three points after being 2-0 up, but plenty to be cheerful about as Villa fans.
1. Little sign of the hoof. Passing, movement off the ball, incisive runs, the Villa team were virtually unrecognisable from the one we’ve had to suffer in recent weeks. The first half was perhaps the best Villa have played all season, taking the game to Liverpool and dominating the possession in the early stages. They were a little unlucky with the timing of Liverpool’s first goal, but there wasn’t the momentum switch most expected in the second half. Villa kept to their game plan and principles, and even with two big men up top, after Holt came on, didn’t just pump it up. It was a controlled performance. Liverpool were forced to make 59 defensive clearances in the game, while Villa only had to make just 28. As a result, the expected Liverpool surge never really came and they only equalised through a dubious penalty.
2. Gabby Agbonlahor was on fire at Anfield and again showed his full worth to Villa when he’s on song. When Villa pass their way through their opposition on the counter, with his speed and power, there are few better. His decision making and final ball have seen a marked improvement in recent seasons, and it was good to see him providing assists that could and should be more frequent. A good second-half to the season from Agbonlahor would pretty much guarantee a top-half finish from Villa.
3. To those fans who wanted to ‘cash in’ on Christian Benteke in the January window, because he had been on a drought, go f**k yourselves! Such periods happen to the best striker. Judging by last season, Benteke is world class and Villa would be seriously hard-pushed to find a replacement with anywhere close to his ability and potential. He was a slow starter last season too. That’s two in two and you get the feeling he’s just starting to warm-up. Didn’t anybody tell you? He was just pacing himself for the World Cup!
4. Ryan Bertrand – a very decent start. He looked to be solid and didn’t get drawn into the middle, like other full-backs I could mention. It meant Villa kept a better shape, which largely contained Liverpool, who have been in devastating form at Anfield this season. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Bertrand going forward in home games, where he can add a bit more much-need dimension to Villa attacks. Certainly Bertrand signing this week has eased a bit of pressure off Lambert’s back.
5. Villa are unbeaten in games in which Grant Holt has played. More seriously, Villa remain unbeaten away from home in 2014. Now, lets FINALLY sort out that home form. UTV