The three moments that defined Aston Villa’s defeat to Liverpool at Anfield...
#3: Lack Of Quality…Again
This was a pretty dismal performance from Villa. The first half was littered with mistakes and a severe lack of quality was on show from everyone in the away side.
Time and time again, Villa surrendered possession cheaply and on the rare occasions the ball was played forward into the Liverpool half, it just bounced off whichever Villa player attempted to control it.
Liverpool’s back-line looked like it was there to be gotten at, but without Jack Grealish, Villa just lack the utensils to open teams up. The one moment of good play resulted in Villa taking the lead with one of the most ‘against the run of play’ goals for a while.
John McGinn picked up on a loose touch from Liverpool center-back, Ozan Kabak, to slip a clever pass into the path for Ollie Watkins to score his second goal in as many games just before the half time whistle.
Sadly, moments like that were all too rare for Villa at Anfield.
#2: End Of The Road For Barkley?
Where did it all go wrong for Ross Barkley? The on-loan Chelsea midfielder started his Villa career with a bang in the reverse fixture, scoring Villa’s fifth goal in the 7-2 demolition of Liverpool at Villa Park. He impressed in the subsequent games, until his season was derailed at the start of November with an injury at home to Brighton.
Since his return, he’s looked a shadow of the player he was in the early part of the season. There were two moments towards the end of the game on Saturday in which perfectly highlight just how off form and low on confidence Barkley is right now.
A ball over the top of the Liverpool defense looked to have put Barkley clean through and instead of turning to head towards goal, he inexplicably headed the ball clear for the home side. Then, with the score at 1-1 heading into the 90th minute, Barkley found himself on the edge of the Liverpool box in plenty of space.
Again, rather than taking a shot on, he dithered on the ball for too long before being dispossessed and from the subsequent counter attack, Liverpool scored the winning goal through the much-maligned, Trent Alexander-Arnold.
With virtually no chance of Villa making Barkley a permanent signing in the summer, it’s worth considering if there is any point in continuing to use him for the remaining eight games; giving his place on the bench to one of the promising academy prospects.
#1: Confusing Lack Of Davis
One thing that left a few fans puzzled during the defeat to Liverpool was the complete absence of Keinan Davis. The Liverpool center-back partnership of Nat Phillips and Kabak is not exactly high caliber and have been fairly ropy.
Phillips, in particular, looks like he would struggle to get into most other Premier League teams starting XI and Villa should have tried to take advantage of this.
Considering the huge impact Davis had in last weekends turnaround against Fulham, it was a surprise that he spent the 90 minutes on the bench, especially when Trezeguet went off injured on 82 minutes.
At that stage, Villa had actually started to play more often in the Liverpool half, so it seemed like Davis would have been the ideal man to bring on to ruffle the feathers of the Liverpool back-line. Instead, Anwar El Ghazi was strangely preferred, in spite of his ineffective display last week in the win over Fulham.
Similar to the game against Tottenham Hotspur before the last international break, there was an opportunity to get something here with just a little more quality and conviction in the final third.
In the summer, Villa have to add more class in attacking areas to deal with the issues that arrive when Grealish is unavailable. His return this season can’t come soon enough!