Liverpool finally secured a long overdue win after a disappointing run of four league games without a win as they saw off Aston Villa in a somewhat entertaining encounter. It ended 3-2 for the home side at Anfield, in a game which marked the return to goalscoring form for Daniel Sturridge, who only returned from a long injury layoff last weekend.
Here are seven talking points from the game.
Rodgers buys time with win
Pressure has been immense on the shoulders of Brendan Rodgers after barely scraping past Carlisle United in the League Cup in midweek, and the Ulsterman at least bought himself some time at his job with a much-needed win. At the moment, any kind of win will do for the struggling Rodgers, who must once again prove his worth after having seemingly lost the faith of the Reds supporters in the recent past.
Sherwood’s shambles continue
While the atmosphere around Anfield almost reached crisis point before the win ensued, Aston Villa are in a much deeper rut than Liverpool at the moment. The Birmingham-based club have now collected four points from seven games, with only a solitary win, and things couldn’t have been any worse for the ex-Spurs manager. Like Rodgers, Sherwood too bought some time with a derby win in the League Cup over Birmingham City in midweek, but next weekend’s home game against Stoke is now a must-win for Sherwood.
Sturridge grabs headlines as he narrowly misses hat-trick
Daniel Sturridge is finally among the goals and will rightly fill the back pages in the local newspapers tomorrow morning after starring with a brace and could have had even more goals following some shambolic Villa defending. Although Sturridge looked off the pace for periods of the game, he showed his striking class with two goals which stemmed from brilliant attacking moves from the Reds.
Gestede shows light for Villa
Meanwhile, Aston Villa’s target man Rudy Gestede too matched Sturridge in the goalscoring stakes although he will barely make the headlines tomorrow morning. The Beninese striker scored a brace of his own, and in only his third start of the season, offered some valuable pointers to Sherwood and co. Gestede’s first goal was of a pure poacher’s variety while his second was exactly of the ilk Christian Benteke specialised in: win the aerial duel and score from a thumping header. At least Gestede showed how good he could be if he receives proper service.
A few good things come for FREE even!
Apart from Sturridge, who made the most telling contributions statistically, there were two other player who were outstanding for Liverpool today. Both Danny Ings and James Milner arrived at the club as free agents after their contracts at Burnley and Manchester City expired, and the English duo was in inspired form throughout. Ings was tireless for 90 minutes and ran selflessly from one end of the pitch to the other, while Milner showed his leadership qualities as well as his technical abilities as he scored one and assisted Sturridge’s first goal.
Liverpool’s defensive problems persist
Despite fielding a three-man defence against the lone threat of a deep-lying Villa side, Liverpool contrived to concede two goals. Both goals came from defensive errors as Emre Can switched off and let Gestede free for the opener while a static Mamadou Sakho was bullied in the air for the second goal by the same player. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was a figure of uncertainty in goal as he made quite a few mistakes with his saves and his kicking. Not quite a perfect performance, and had Sturridge not turned up today, it would have been much worse for Liverpool.
Promising left-sided partnership of Moreno and Coutinho
One area of promise for Liverpool was the flourishing partnership between Philippe Coutinho and Alberto Moreno on the left. Moreno was a constant thorn down the left and got into the byeline more often than not while Coutinho fed him. Their combination was a theme in the first half when Coutinho dropped deeper to create, while in the second half, Coutinho drifted into more central areas but Moreno continued motoring forward. There is a sense something special could be brewing down that left hand side for the Reds.