No matter how you slice it, Liverpool were pretty terrible on the weekend against Aston Villa. Earning three points at home was a must, and though Liverpool clawed back two goals in order to earn a draw, they left the pitch feeling frustrated at having thrown away two points in their own backyard. Brendan Rodgers didn't seem to have the heart to describe the performance as anything but poor.
"Probably across the board we were not very good," Rodgers said. "Myself included. For me, the system is irrelevant. The style will always be maintained to control and dominate games. I felt we could be aggressive and our front two would really give them a problem but we never got control of midfield and we couldn't build the game from behind."
The rather clear reasons that Liverpool never got control of the midfield have been picked over endlessly in the last two days and so they won't be repeated here. Suffice it to say that it's nice that, on a very basic level, the gaffer includes himself in the group who made mistakes on Saturday, even if he's not exactly forthcoming in naming his contribution to the putrid performance.
Still, Rodgers seems eager to look at the overall result rather than the individual mistakes, as at the end of the day grinding out a draw could prove incredibly important come spring.
"If I think on it in terms of last season and in terms of where we were at last week against Stoke and against Aston Villa here," Rodgers continued, "in those games we got no points at all and we got four of out of six points.
"Ideally, we want to win the home games and we've been on a great run here at home. But when you can't win, it's important that you don't lose the game and I think we showed that character today yet again."
A lot has been said about table places being won on the back of strong performances against teams in the bottom half of the league, and inelegant performances aside Rodgers isn't wrong that the results from the last two matches are an improvement on results Liverpool failed to achieve the previous year. Not quite a twenty-eight point improvement plan just yet, but it gets Liverpool four points closer than they were from the same fixtures last season.
As the cliché goes, we'll add them up and see where we are at the end of the season; if things go as planned, the performance will be long forgotten but the result will have made an impact.