Liverpool 1 - 0 Aston Villa
Liverpool: Salah 65’ (pen)’
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain led the line against Aston Villa in place of Diogo Jota. Other than that, there were no surprises in Jurgen Klopp’s chosen XI. It’s a big game as Liverpool welcome back hometown hero Steven Gerrard to Anfield.
The game began with the Reds showing clear intent to strike fast and hard. Play started in Aston Villa’s half and just never left. However, as aggressive as they were, Liverpool couldn’t capitalize on all of the possession and dominance.
The closest they came in the first 20 minutes was when Andy Robertson almost tapped it home at the near post, but was denied by the post.
Liverpool stretched the play, going wide and making use of Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Villa, for their part, seemed comfortable letting them control the wings as they attempted a more direct approach. It almost paid off in the 30th minute when a long ball easily outfoxed Alisson and landed at Ashley Young’s feet, beyond the keeper. Thankfully, Joel Matip was alive to the danger and headed clear Young’s shot.
The first half ended scoreless, despite good work from Liverpool.
The second half began the same way the first half did, with Liverpool pushing and pushing for that goal, this time on the Kop end. Wave after wave of attacks in the first five minutes culminated in a header from Virgil van Dijk off of a Trent corner. The shot is blocked by Martinez, the Villa keeper, giving Villa a reprieve and frustrating Liverpool.
At 60 minutes, Klopp made his first change, bringing on Diogo Jota for Oxlade-Chamberlain to kickstart the stuttering Liverpool offense as they search for a goal in the game.
A few minutes later, it’s Mohamed Salah who engineered the opportunity for the Reds. He fearlessly took on Mings in the box, and Mings illegally pulled him down, earning a Salah a penalty. The Egyptian unsurprisingly took it on himself, and after a few deep, calming breaths, he sent in a perfect goal past Martinez.
The inevitability of the goal seemed to calm things down for the next 10 minutes or so as both teams regrouped. Villa put in a few minutes of sustained possession, but Liverpool withstood the late attack and held tight to their slim lead.
At 82 minutes in, Klopp made his second substitution, taking off Thiago Alcantara and bringing on stalwart James Milner instead.
Liverpool’s final substitution came in the form of Takumi Minamino, coming on for Sadio Mane in the 87th minute as Klopp looked to wear down the clock and secure their three points.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
It wasn’t a very fun match to watch, but Liverpool eventually earn the three points thanks to some clever play from Salah when nothing else was working.
Did Liverpool do the thing? Did Liverpool not do the thing? And are we happy or (at least temporarily) furious about some aspect of the thing?
Who was Liverpool’s man of the match against Aston Villa?
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