Liverpool 3 – 0 Aston Villa – The Postmortem
This was our first game after the most controversial and stressful summer transfer window, perhaps in the history of the Premier League. A sun-drenched Sunday afternoon saw Aston Villa travel to Anfield on match week four, with some swirling trepidation over how this encounter would unfold. Due to circumstances, there was some decisions to be made regarding selection. Jürgen Klopp opted for Joe Gomez to replace his suspended skipper, Virgil van Dijk, whereas both Curtis Jones and Darwin Núñez started in place of Cody Gakpo and Wataru Endō. Ryan Gravenberch was ineligible for this game, whilst Mohamed Salah started despite being subject to a £200m Saudi enquiry.
The Starting Eleven
— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) September 3, 2023
The First Half
Any pre-game scepticism from the Liverpool fanbase was eased in the opening seconds, as the home team pressed and assaulted their visitors from the opening bell. It took a mere two minutes for a Trent Alexander Arnold corner to find its way to Dominik Szoboszlai, who unleashed a fierce strike from the edge of the box. His left footed shot was a pure effort of elite technical ability, one that is continuing to show how dangerous this man is. As Unai Emery’s team struggled to get into any sort of rhythm, the villains continually found themselves chasing a superior team, as the likes of Trent, Alexis, Dominik, and Curtis, used their superior physicality and tactical intelligence to control the game. On 22-minutes the pressure finally saw the Reds lead double, with Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah combining to force an unfortunate own goal onto Villa’s helpless fullback, Matty Cash. The speed and direct nature of Liverpool’s front three was nothing short of breathtaking, and if not for the wood work, our new number nine would have ended the half with a brace of goals. Joël Matip should have scored from a precise free kick into the box, delivered by our captain for the afternoon, TAA.
Been a long time coming but that was a routine, controlled win. Best midfield structure we've had in a while and the Szobo/Jones gegen in the 1st half was 🔥🔥🔥 #lfc
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) September 3, 2023
The Second Half
A momentary uplift in the away team’s endeavour was soon dampened down, with order restored by the hosts who were once more able to dominate the Anfield pitch. The opening of the half second saw Alisson Becker make a tremendous save from a close-range header, one which kept the contest one sided. It would be in the 55th minute that the game ended as a contest, due to our Uruguayan striker nodding a ball towards the far post, before our Egyptian King was able to score from close range. The chances continued to come and go, as the players on the receiving end offered very little in return. The fact that last weekend’s match winner could not find the net, should not take away from what was a chaotic display that was uncontrollable. As the substitutes started to invade the pitch, it quickly descended into game management and getting minutes into legs, whilst pulling some out of the firing line.
Joe Gomez rock solid today vs Villa
103 passes (most in match)
95% pass accuracy
8 ball recoveries
3/5 grind duels won
2/2 aerial duels won
1 clearance pic.twitter.com/0e5RSQoSYy
— Moby (@Mobyhaque1) September 3, 2023
What Are My Final Thoughts…?
So many individuals stood out today, including the defensive pairing of Joe Gomez and Matip, who were both solid and dependable throughout. Despite an extended period of uncertainty last season, the backup pair produced very good performances against a dangerous opposition attack. The midfield worked like clockwork, as Alexis Mac Allister occupied space and recycled play with confident efficiency, despite taken on the holding midfield role. Curtis Jones and Andy Robertson were energetic and reliable in their duties, whilst Luis Díaz was a common outlet and thorn in the side of opposing defenders. The three standout players were Darwin, Dom, and my man of the match, Trent Alexander Arnold. This trio added so much ferociousness and technique to the occasion, which saw a good adversary unable to cope with their varying offerings. Our central striker was the ideal tip of our spear, harnessing an abundance of pace and power which created chances galore. The Hungarian captain showed once more how limitless his game is, whereas the vice-captain comfortably dominated and instigated multiple patterns of our play. With this transitional period will come off days and times when we do not look coordinated, yet today showed what can be when everything is in sync, which was wonderful sight to behold within this 3-0 win.