There has, understandably, been some focus on Mario Balotelli’s late goal which was ruled out, incorrectly, for offside and which would have surely taken the game into extra-time. However, to place too much emphasis on this would be to overlook the fact that both teams got precisely what they deserved at Wembley.
Sometimes you get the luck that you merit – Villa were the better side by a pretty terrific margin throughout the game and even without the claret-and-blue-tinted glasses it would have been a travesty had they not emerged victorious. If Balotelli’s disallowed goal gives Liverpool fans something to cling on to then so be it, but in fairness, the vast majority of reaction I have seen from them has been an admission of being bested in every department.
Let’s just give Brendan Rodgers’ post-match nonsense the column inches it deserves, shall we? He claimed after the game that Liverpool’s defeat was at least in part a result of them ‘wanting to win too much’. Sorry, what? In that case, I guess it’s lucky that Villa’s players held only a lukewarm desire to reach the final of English football’s biggest domestic competition, otherwise we’d have been in trouble.
As post-match drivel goes, that’s up there with the greatest. It also conveniently overlooks the fact that at no point in the game did Liverpool look interested in – or, to be quite frank, capable of – winning the game. Another gem was his assertion that Steven Gerrard was excellent. I’m all for standing by your captain, but if Gerrard was excellent then Delph was Michel Platini.
The worst thing I can think to say about Sunday is that we won’t have as good a day as that until, well, Saturday 30 May. Arsenal will be a different kettle of fish to Liverpool but there is absolutely no reason – particularly based on the two sides’ respective semi-final performances – that this Villa cannot do what no Villa side has done since 1957.
The biggest genuine issue is the latest in a long line of defensive injuries – Nathan Baker’s season is over, by Sherwood’s own admission, after falling heavily in the first half. With Baker joining Ciaran Clark on the sidelines until the summer and with Ron ‘Concrete’ Vlaar actually having been more Ron ‘Porcelain’ Vlaar for most of this campaign, Villa are horribly light on the ground at the back.
I’ve heard rumours that Philippe Senderos still exists (he played for the Villa U-21’s Monday night), but even so, Sherwood needs to get the cotton wool and bubblewrap out for the next few weeks. UTV
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