From Buildup Problems to VAR: Statistical Analysis of Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa

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A Controversial Tie Marred by Time Wasting and Buildup Problems

The Tangled Web of Time Wasting

In a game overshadowed by controversy, the Reds’ recent 1-1 draw with Aston Villa at Anfield highlighted some of the more problematic aspects of modern football. From an unprecedented amount of “dead time” to seemingly never-ending discussions on the efficacy of VAR, the match had it all.

As Daniel Rhodes keenly observed on the latest Anfield Index Under Pressure podcast:

“If I was the opposition manager coming to Anfield, I would do exactly the same if I had inferior players. I would try and take as much time out the game, I would encourage fouls… I know it’s cheating, but if you can get away with it, I’d encourage it.”

It seems there’s a pragmatic – if not entirely sportsmanlike – strategy at work here.

A Tale of VAR, Offside and More

To say VAR played a contentious part in the Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa match would be an understatement. As Dan Kennett stated:

“I don’t mind the ref not giving an instant red card, but I don’t understand why VAR didn’t tell the ref…that’s the VAR’s job.”

Simon Brundish pointed out a particularly controversial moment when he said, “I thought it was a goal until I watched it from a different angle and now I think it was the right decision.” VAR’s role in football is increasingly under scrutiny, and this match only added fuel to the ongoing debate.

Liverpool’s Buildup Problems

On a more tactical note, the game laid bare some of the Reds’ buildup problems.

“We still didn’t create a big chance until injury time… why did we have 52 touches in the box, why did Salah have 21 touches in the box, his highest this season…and we still didn’t create a big chance,” laments Rhodes.

It’s a point that certainly hits home considering the depth of talent on the Liverpool squad.

Brundish, commenting on the tactics, highlighted the team’s struggle with their positioning:

“Because you’ve got Fab… basically where Trent’s been for the past seven games, and then Trent is so far over it, and Hendo is doing his usual stuff, and then Cody’s back to being unconnected… it’s hard to be at your heightened state of stimulation and focus when this occurs.”

A Tribute to Bobby

Amidst all the controversy and tactical analysis, a heartfelt tribute to Bobby Firmino cannot be overlooked. Despite Liverpool’s struggles this season, Bobby’s contribution has been substantial. As Brundish puts it:

“Bobby’s got ten big goals this season… it’s pretty much the second-best goal-scoring career of his Liverpool career.”

His contribution to the team has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on Anfield.

In a season filled with twists, turns and VAR-induced head-scratching, it’s clear that the game continues to evolve – for better or worse. Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa encapsulated all the drama, tension and excitement that makes football the world’s most beloved sport.


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  1. As a Villa fan I actually agree that Ming’s was lucky to stay on the pitch, most I could argue would be whether there was intent, the tackle was high and dangerous. In terms of time wasting, I think your wrong! Not that Villa don’t take their time on goal kicks etc. But they are no worse than any other team in the league. Martinez at this stage is being booked on reputation alone! (Honestly, time the goal kicks for both teams at the next Villa game)

    For the disallowed goal, the decision published was wrong. To me there was no question over “deliberate play”, there was an offside in the build up and a hand ball on the rebound. Not to mention that throughout the game, Konate in particular, but also the rest of the Liverpool back line where actively pulling Villa players to ground with no intervention from the referee (I thought McGinn was gonna lose the plot and get himself sent off).

    I agree with the comments from Pool players during the week that the Ref’s mic should be broadcast. I also think that VAR shouldn’t be relying on this “clear and obvious” BS. Follow the rugby example and have the VAR ref overrule and broadcast why. Consistently enforce kick times, book players even after the game for simulation or unseen fouls AND definitley book players for arguing with the referee (I think only the captain should ever speak to the Ref). They’re worried about it slowing the game, f*** it, cut the s**t out of the game!

    Forget arguing which team is cheating, simple fact of the matter is, if the games where refereed honestly and to a consistent standard, players of any team would have no choice but play the game. It’s a sad fact of life, that you get more for playing the rules than playing the game and I would much prefer to be arguing which team had more or less skill than the ref on their side!


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