Blog by: Saiyed
On a rainy afternoon in Birmingham, Aston Villa hosted Liverpool. All the pre match talk was concentrated on the two main men upfront for their teams. Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool and his counterpart Christian Benteke for Aston Villa. Both had scored in all their teams’ matches so far, with Benteke scoring three goals for the Villains.
Villa having played their third game in a span of seven days were trying to impress in front of their home support. A close fought game against Chelsea, where they could have got something out of the game would have given them the confidence to take on a Liverpool squad who had dominated against Stoke in their opening game. Liverpool were lucky to escape that game with the three points thanks largely to Simon Mignolet’s last minute penalty save.
The teams were only separated by a Sturridge goal in the 21st minute, the English striker collected a pass from Enrique in front of the penalty box. Dribbled past two defenders , rounded the keeper and calmly slotted the ball into the roof of the net to give Liverpool a perfect start to the season, 2 wins from 2 games. Villa were left to rue a few chances, one falling to star striker Benteke who unleashed a powerful shot from inside the penalty area only to have it saved by the strong hands of Mignolet, Liverpool just about deserved the three points at the end of the game.
Here are five talking points from the game
Luis Suarez is still suspended for four more games before he puts on the red of Liverpool but going by the performance of the team they may not need a star striker. Don’t get me wrong; earlier Liverpool were completely dependent on Suarez scoring and creating chances. Sturridge has picked up the mantle of scoring for now. He has scored in both of Liverpool’s games this season and certainly when Suarez comes back into the team he can start doing what he does best. A roaring Suarez and a scoring Sturridge may just lead to a ton of goals, something that Liverpool have had a problem with in the last 2 seasons.
Lambert’s work is paying off
Ok, so the results don’t show how much Villa have improved from last season. They have continued their style of play under Paul Lambert who has started giving more chances to young players in his system. They beat Arsenal, they should have got a point against Chelsea and they should have gotten something from the game tonight. The team finally is gelling together and with Fabian Delph stepping up in midfield with Gary Gardner there is some solidity in the midfield for the Villains. With Benteke, Weimann and Agbonlahor in attack they should easily skirt away from relegation, watch out for some sparks from this team during the season.
Kolo Toure has been immense
Of all the signings Liverpool have made this off season, few would have predicted that Kolo Toure would become such an integral part of the team. 32 years old and signed as a free agent from Manchester City, Toure has slotted perfectly with Agger in the heart of the Liverpool defense. Against Villa Toure was immense taking on Benteke and only giving him one clear cut chance on goal. Brendan had earlier spoken of how Kolo is a leader and how they required more strong heads in the team. Apart from his leadership skills, Kolo is no slouch and can out jump the best headers of the ball out there. Brendan might have made one of the cheekiest signings this season.
Solidity at the back wins games
Two games gone, two wins, two goals scored, none conceded and six points on the board. A perfect start to the season if only a few more goals would have been scored. Liverpool fans should be happy with the performance of the team so far. They now seem to have some solidity and steel in the defence, so even if they haven’t scored goals like Barcelona they have been really strong in their defending. In both the games they had to deal with late attacking charges and they were dealt with ease by the Liverpool back 5. Simon Mignolet seems to be a really good replacement for Reina as he was able to keep out a ferocious drive from Benteke. The back four of Liverpool also seem more stable and less prone to costly errors, Gerrard playing a deeper role this season with Lucas seem to be cutting out any threat that the opposition might pose. A strong back line is the first step to making a team better, Brendan may have learned from last season, its just two games in but that is as good a start as you can expect.
Style, style and style
The way these two teams play is certainly a positive step for the league. Hoofing the ball high up the field and hoping for the striker to bully the defence for a chance is not the style of play anymore. Teams are now looking to break down their opposition, Liverpool at one point in the first half had 70 per cent possession trying to break down a resolute Villa side. They moved forward and if they could not break through they passed back, slowed the game and started again. Not the rough and tumble, blood and thunder style of football quite a few of us would have been used to seeing. This kind of game helps the more technical players, Benteke, Coutinho, Weimann, Delph to name a few, apart from Benteke none of the other players are big broodish lads who could knock a grown man in a bar, not that they need to. Technical play is needed in England, this may not lead to another Barcelona but certainly it would help the style of football being played here.