Liverpool banked yet another 3 points at Anfield after a very lacklustre 2-0 victory over Aston Villa. Until Mané put the Reds in front in the 70th minute, we failed to create any chance of note whatsoever, with Villa looking the more likely to break the deadlock with numerous dangerous counterattacks. A win is a win, though, which keeps our remarkable run of victories at home continuing along nicely.
In goal, Alisson unsurprisingly started and played very well. A couple of smart saves were required from him before we took the lead but he was also called upon in stoppage time when Jack Grealish went through on goal. A superb save from the Brazilian denied the Englishman down low at the far post. A goal there for Villa would have left them a few minutes to push for an equaliser but our number one made sure his sheet remained clean.
In defence, the usual back four of Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk and Robertson were named in the lineup. As we were pushing hard for the lead from minute one to no avail, our fullbacks pushed on which left us open to the counterattack on more than one occasion. Both Van Dijk and Gomez dealt well with being outnumbered by the Villa attackers and limited them to difficult shots at best despite their numerical advantage in our third. As for the attacking side, both Trent and Robertson struggled to get into the game. It was a clear gameplan from The Villains to prevent our fullbacks from influencing the game and they succeeding in doing so.
In midfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita came in for Henderson and Wijnaldum, while Fabinho kept his place. Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t have the best of games, failing to complete a number of passes and finding it difficult to make anything happen. Naby Keita was probably the pick of the bunch from midfield in terms of his performance and he capped it with a lovely assist for Mané to open the scoring. It was the first time in the match where Liverpool truly attempted to play through the centre of Aston Villa with a couple of risky passes and it paid off. Trent fired a ball into the feet of Keita in the box, who gathered it in and found our Senegalese wide-man with a perfectly directed and weighted pass. Mane took the shot on first-time and rifled it into the net off of the underside of the crossbar. Keita was replaced late on by young scouser, Curtis Jones, who managed to score his first ever Premier League goal for the club after a wonderful team move. Robertson floated a cross onto the head of Mo Salah who, with a lovely cushioned header, found Jones on the penalty spot for him to volley home with help from a slight deflection off of Tyrone Mings.
In attack, Mané and Salah started the game alongside Divock Origi who came in for Roberto Firmino. Sadly, poor Divock had an absolutely atrocious afternoon. He looked well out of his depth and this should probably be his last season at the club. Mané got his 50th goal at Anfield for the Reds and also notched his 20th of the season, meaning he’s reached that landmark for the 3rd season in a row. Mo Salah’s assist for Jones puts him onto 100 goal involvements in the Premier League, making him the fastest to do so in history in terms of minutes played. Only Alan Shearer has done it in fewer appearances.
As for Man of the Match, there weren’t too many standout performers. Having said that, I’m going to go with Naby Keita. He was crucial to getting the go-ahead goal with his excellent assist and had a decent game overall.