Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool
Two teams with 100% records came up against each other at Villa Park, with champions Liverpool the visitors. This would be Villa’s toughest test so far this season, with their previous matches coming against teams who are still yet to get a point this season. Villa’s last win against the Reds at Villa Park, in the league, came in 2011 with Stuart Downing scoring the winner.
One change was made by Dean Smith to the team that beat Fulham, Loan signing Ross Barkley came in for Conor Hourihane. Hourihane was certainly hard done by to lose his place after scoring and assisting against the Cottagers, but hopefully Barkley would add a different dimension.
There were big absences for Liverpool with Sadio Mane, Thiago and Alisson all out. Talismanic midfielder Jordan Henderson was also only on the bench. This wouldn’t weaken the Champions too much, but Villa would need any advantage they could get, against such a lethal side.
Wow! Just wow! It can’t be put into words how good that was. Fans would have been rolling around on the floor with laughter, if you’d suggested a 7-2 Villa win before kick-off. Despite the very long grass at Villa Park (cheers Graeme Souness) Villa were clinical, and looked as if they were going to score with every attack. This is definitely the best match I’ve ever watched as a Villa fan, it’s a massive shame supporters couldn’t be at Villa Park. I think they would have still been clearing fans out of the stands by Midday on Monday.
Well, the Villa players have made the ratings very easy to write. It is safe to say that Villa have the quality to do more than just stay up comfortably this season. If the likes of Mings, Grealish, Watkins and Barkley stay fit, it could be an interesting season indeed.
Emiliano Martinez – 10
Emi Martinez had one moment that nearly resulted in a Liverpool goal, but other than that he was sensational. The Argentinian shot stopper pulled off some great saves and was calm with the ball at his feet. He’s already fast proving to be a savvy purchase.
Matty Cash – 10
Though at times Matty Cash was run a little ragged by Robertson and Jota down the Liverpool left, the full-back stuck at it. He probably won’t have a harder 45 minutes this season, as he did in the first half. He battled and worked hard to cut out passes and throw in tackles, and was rarely out of position.
Ezri Konsa – 10
Another top performance from Ezri Konsa, the young defender did a fantastic job in dealing with Firmino, as well as pushing up to press the midfield when needed. He only completed 14 passes in the 90 minutes, because the ball was mostly in the Liverpool net.
Tyrone Mings – 10
Tyrone Mings made some important clearances early on, when the game was much closer, and that gave Villa a great platform to go on and dominate. There was no casual defending or play on the ball from Mings, which was key against such high quality opposition.
Matt Targett – 10
Like Mings, Matt Targett made some big interceptions and blocks when Liverpool tried to force their way back into the game. He didn’t have to push too far forward, as those in front of him did all the work.
Douglas Luiz – 10
In truth, Douglas Luiz didn’t have a massive amount to do for parts of the game. He broke up Liverpool attacks early on with a couple of fouls, and burst forward to start attacks. The Brazilian would have been expecting a much tougher test than it was, but Villa released the pressure with clinical counter-attacking play.
John McGinn – 10
Midfield dynamo John McGinn was truly outstanding. He hustled and bustled in the middle of the park, and made it seem as if there was no Liverpool midfield. McGinn puts in the work of three men in the midfield, and passed the ball accurately and positively. McGinnedine Zidane was back once again.
Ross Barkley – 10
It was the debut of dreams for Ross Barkley, a goal and lots of fantastic runs. The England international could have had a hat-trick himself, if he’d had his shooting boots on, early on. His ability to drive from midfield really gives Villa an extra edge on the attack. We can only hope the rest of his time at Villa is as good as this.
Trezeguet – 10
Trezeguet worked tirelessly and should keep his place in the Villa first XI. He tracked back, bombed forward, made tackles, made key passes and offered a great option for a pass out to the right. If there were any doubts about the Egyptians commitment and quality, there shouldn’t be any more, fantastic work Trez!
Ollie Watkins – 10
The perfect hat-trick for your first Premier League goals, that’s something that kids reenact in the back garden. Ollie Watkins looked like he’d bagged 100 Premier League goals already, as he dispatched his chances with ease. The fact he was disappointed not to score more, is a great insight into the player. He’s looking the real deal.
Jack Grealish © – 10
Gabby Agbonlahor was right, Jack Grealish played like a prime Iniesta. He ran the show as he tormented the Liverpool defence with his movement. This was the perfect performance from the Villa skipper, two goals and three assists, some players have that as there totals for an entire season. I’m sure Gareth Southgate will have something to say about Mason Mount after this.
In the words of Jurgen Klopp… ‘What a footballer.’
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Off the Bench
Ahmed Elmohamady (79) – 10
Liverpool would have been shaking in their boots when Villa threw on Ahmed Elmohamady. The memories of him holding up his arms, to celebrate a deflected cross goal against their youth team, will still have been fresh. The Liverpool kids should be proud of their efforts then, only conceding five.
Marvelous Nakamba (79) – 10
Marvelous Nakamba only made seven touches, but what a seven touches. Liverpool had given up by the time he’d got on the pitch, and Marvelous helped Villa just about see out the win.
Bertrand Traore (86) – 10
Bertrand Traore had some chances off the bench, but couldn’t make the most of them. He was certainly lively and looked like he’ll be a useful player to have around. The fact that a team that can bang seven past Liverpool came in for him to rescue him from Lyon, should give him confidence going forward.
Dean Smith – 10
It’s hard to come up with adjectives to describe how it feels to be a Villa fan in the aftermath of this game. Dean Smith has justified his hard work and dedication in one game. He said they ‘had a plan’ and my word it came off, every element of it was worked to perfection. Cross field balls and runs from deep were pinpoint accurate, and the finishing was deadly. It looks like in Watkins and Barkley, Smith has players that will bring out the best in his tactics, as well as Grealish.
It was good to see that Smith emphasised that it was simply a ‘good start’ for the Villa though, as it would be easy to get carried away.
Champions League anyone?
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