Aston Villa 1 - 3 Liverpool
Villains: Watkins 59’
Reds: Salah 5’, Van Dijk 38’, Bajcetic 81’
It’s a surprise start for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, though that might be down to Liverpool’s suddenly extremely limited attacking options. Firmino is out, joining the long-term walking wounded Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz. Everyone else is pretty much as expected.
Liverpool nearly go up early after a gorgeous ball from Ali put Andy Robertson right through on goal. The fullback sent in a dangerous cross, which Darwin Núñez inexplicably dummied for...no one. The man just lives and breathes chaos. For better or in this case, worse.
GOAL! Liverpool won a corner from Darwin’s antics. The first ball was cleared, but the Reds keep it alive, and Robertson plays a beautiful ball, picking out an unmarked Mohamed Salah in acres of space, and he does not miss!
Despite the early goal for the visitors, Villa have nearly gotten in a few times in the opening 15 minutes. Liverpool’s porous defense does not, as of yet, appear to be dramatically more stout than before.
To the shock of absolutely no one, Paul Tierney finds new and unique was to absolutely suck.
As the half wears on, Liverpool appear to be starting to assert their will on proceedings, and look the likelier of the two sides to score the next goal.
GOAL!! And it’s from another set piece! Once again the corner was cut out, but Mo Salah kept it alive, played it back for Virgil van Dijk, and the Dutch center half absolutely leathered it with his left foot, through the crowd and past the keeper.
It was a pretty good first half from the Reds. There certainly haven’t been enough games where we’ve gone into the break with a 2-goal lead this season! Our defense has bent, but not broken, and our creative players look to be on song and ready for the restart. Another half like this and the Reds should be back on the march.
No changes at the half for Klopp’s charges. Villa’s Ollie Watkins appears to go through on goal and score with a brilliant finish, but he was offside. Good job, defense!
Liverpool are back on the attack, and Mo really should’ve done better after dribbling the entire length of the pitch. He got caught in two minds between squaring it for Trent at the back post, or having a go, and sort of did neither. A moment later Fabinho flashed a long shot just wide of the post. Villa have been dangerous in moments, but a third goal really should settle the matter today.
Goal. Villa pull one back on an all-too-easy cross and header at the back post. Welp, game on.
Klopp makes his first changes just after the hour mark, bringing on Naby Keita and Harvey Elliott for Thiago and Ox.
With 15 to go Klopp brings on Joe Gomez and Stefan Bajcetic for Trent and Hendo.
GOAL!!! The kid, Bajcetic immediately repays Klopp’s faith in him, scoring a brilliant goal to open up his Liverpool account. Darwin keeps the ball alive and pulls it back, Bajcetic gets on the end of it, dinks it past the keeper and slots through the defender’s legs! That should settle the issue here.
And with a few minutes to go, Klopp brings on his final sub, Ben Doak for Darwin. The Uruguayan has been an absolute nightmare for defense today, even if he didn’t get on the scoresheet.
Villa Park under the lights can be a big challenge, especially after a long break, but the Reds made fairly easy work of it. The home side had a go early in the second half, but tired and Liverpool’s class won out. It’s a much needed three points, and hopefully points to more consistent form in the second half (and a bit) of the season.