It is kinda odd to think it is match week four and this was Aston Villa’s first weekend match. Oh and it happens to be hosting the League Champions Liverpool. So expectations of points was low going in even with the debut of on-loan midfielder Ross Barkley.
@RBarkley8 makes his Aston Villa debut as we take on Liverpool this evening! #AVLLIV pic.twitter.com/PcUqS4ogVG— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) October 4, 2020
No Mane for Liverpool — which is great because he really scores for Villa against us.
Villa began the match with a very high tempo and quickly found some possession in the Liverpool end. Ross Barkley pushing much higher than Hourihane was in the same position — both in terms of defensive pressure and offensive positioning.
And it was that pressure in the fourth minute that created the first shockwave. Watkins pressured Adrian to play a poor pass that Jack Grealish easily got it. The captain took a breathe on the ball and found Watkins all along in the box. Ollie had so much space he slotted it easily into the net putting the home team up 1-0.
Moments later — debutant Ross Barkley could have made it two. Grealish with a wonderful move found Barkley in the box. Ross hit it first time but it went wide. It looked like there may have been a defensive deflection but I didn’t see a replay and a goal kick was given. Barkley could have been appeal for the corner out of frustration for missing the target.
Martinez was called into play about the fifteenth minute with a save on Firmino from a tight angle. There was a penalty shout from Salah after McGinn steered him away from the ball with his body. Neither the referee nor VAR gave it — though the announcers were less certain because they haven’t watched McGinn make that exact move dozens of times all around the pitch. But definingly a dangerous move in the box.
Liverpool could have easily levelled the match after Martinez makes the exact same bad pass that Adrian did for Liverpool. Thankfully Luiz made a key block and there was no ball in the net.
But there was a ball in the net on the otherside of the pitch in the 21’. Jack Grealish slotted a ball through to a running Ollie Watkins down the left. He took the ball all the way into the box, paused and hit an odd looking shot while seemingly falling backward.... into the far corner. 2-0 to the good.
⚽️ Aston Villa vs Liverpool | Watkins (GOAL) 22' #AVLLIV pic.twitter.com/GNnvqjGQFW— D9INE (@D9INE_ELITE_13) October 4, 2020
What a noise the crowd would be making if it wasn’t for the whole global pandemic....
Ross Barkley was inches away from making three. Once again Jack Grealish with a perfect pass against a high Liverpool line. The finish was much rougher for the former Everton man but he was frustrated to see it bounce past the post.
The end-to-end attacks continued down on the other side. Liverpool pounced on Cash and Luiz up a little too high. In the end Salah put finished well to pull the champions one back when it was so nearly three.
Down on the other side, Barkley had his third near goal, this time saved at the near post for a corner. The corner, taken by Barkleyt, was headed clear but right to one John McGinn. He takes it first time on the volley — takes a massive deflection off Virgil Van Dijk — leaving the Liverpool keeper with zero chance. 3-1 to and there was barely a time to grab a beer or take a breath in the opening 35’.
But the hosts weren’t done yet.
OLLIE. WATKINS. HAT. TRICK.— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 4, 2020
VILLA IS 4-1 UP ON LIVERPOOL BEFORE THE HALF! pic.twitter.com/2bmc8soKSx
GOAL!— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 4, 2020
WHAT IS GOING ON TODAY?!!!!
It's 4-1 Aston Villa!
It's a hat-trick for Never-had-a-Premier-League-goal-before-tonight Ollie Watkins!
Bonkers. Absolutely bonkers.
Follow: https://t.co/K00OZEGmXM #bbcfootball #AVLLIV pic.twitter.com/1QrFGUAJCh
Ollie Watkins is the first player to score a PL hat-trick v Liverpool since Dimitar Berbatov for Man Utd in Sept 2010— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) October 4, 2020
1st English-born player to do so since Kevin Lisbie for Charlton in Sept 2003 pic.twitter.com/cIX7Tnp8Z3
Right on the edge of halftime, Martinez made a save against Robinson. So football did continue after the hat trick celebration. But 4-1 was the score when the whistle blew to end a wild and wonderful half.
Different football — the Browns are winning 38-14 while Villa are at the half up 4-1. I have zero idea how to handle this kind of happiness.
But only halfway there. Dean Smith must have reminded the entire squad that it is the leave Champions on the other side of the pitch and 45’ up three goals is not going to be easy.
Liverpool made one change at the break with Minamino on, Keita off.
Douglas Luiz picked up an early yellow for stopping Minamino in the middle of the park in the 47th minute.
Ross Barkley got his deserved debut goal nearly ten minutes into the half. Another bad pass from Liverpool led to some passes between Ross and Jack. Barkley took a long distance shot with his left — it took a huge deflection and looped into the far post. 5 YES FIVE -1 to the good guys.
ROSS BARKLEY MAKES IT FIVE! #MyPLMorning pic.twitter.com/LwauBLhhUe— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) October 4, 2020
Spirts were high but Liverpool quickly showed that they were not done yet. Salah got his second with a very nice finish as he found a sliver of space between Targett and Mings. They are the Champions for a reason. 5-2 with 30 minutes remain.
In a clever bit of game management, McGinn took an important foul after the goal to help stop some Liverpool moment. In the end the set piece didn’t lead to anything but it was a sign of good football intelligence from the Scottish midfielder.
Watkins added as assist in the 65’ — he allowed Jack Grealish to run into the box. Jack as he does — cut in and fired toward net. The shot — ONCE AGAIN — took a giant deflection off a Liverpool defender and snuck inside the near post. Making it a beautiful 6-2.
Then James Milner came on for the visitors — Hi James. You are a wonderful player and I have nothing but good feels about you.
Watkins could have made it seven — but was very close to offside near the center line. In the end it was well saved so no check. But it would have been close.
Watkins may not have done it — but Jack Grealish did make it seven.
SEVEN goals against the Liverpoool. Grealish was in his own half when the pass came from McGinn. Jack flicked it to the near post past the keeper one-on-one.
Dean Smith's Aston Villa revolution is truly in full swing and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it— Daniel Rolinson (@DanRolinson) October 4, 2020
THIS IS THE GREATEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE— Freddie Shires (@fshires) October 4, 2020
Even after the seventh goal — Villa kept pushing.
Dean Smith made his first chances with 10 minutes to go — Luiz and Cash came off, Nakamba and Elmohamady came on.
Nakamba got a shot on target from outside the box a minute later. Watkins hit the cross bar too.
On Thursday, we said after the recap for the Stoke loss — it was one game. This win is just one win. But oh what a win it is. To host Liverpool and crush them is one hell of a result. Dean Smith needs take this confidence, bottle it, and drive this team forward.
Three Premier League matches.
Three Premier League wins.
Up the Villa.
I love you all.