Sunday, October 29, 2006

Reds End Villa's Unbeaten Run

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 3 - 1 Aston Villa

LIV - Kuyt (31min), Crouch (38min), Luis Garcia (44min);
ASV - Agbonlahor (56min);

Kuyt's Goal:

Crouch's Goal:

Garcia's Goal:

Rafael Benitez's men responded to the criticisms from fans, media and that 'board member' with a rousing 3-1 win over Aston Villa, who have remained undefeated until the fateful visit to Anfield.
After their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Man United last Sunday, pressure mounted on Rafa and his men but they showed the spirit to bounce back with one of the best team performance of the season thus far. Although they once again took the foot off the pedal in the second half, the first half display was a sight to behold, one and two touch passing and the general movement which made the Villa players running around chasing shadows.

Fowler's brilliant goal in the midweek game against Reading couldn't convince Rafa that he should make the start. So Peter Crouch kept his place with Dirk Kuyt partnering him. It was an emotional day for Kuyt as his sick father was at Anfield to watch his beloved son don the famous red shirt. Dirk didn't let his father down as he drew first blood with a wonderful volley. Hyypia found himself in unfamiliar territory but managed to knock down the ball for the anticipating Kuyt, who took it down on his chest and blasting it past Thomas Sorensen.

Liverpool looked a totally different side from the one that showed up last week at Old Trafford. There was passion and there was energy in the players. They showed that they really wanted the ball and not surprising, the ball retention was brilliant and the passing isn't too shabby either. Xabi Alonso looked to be back to his best, spraying passes all around and even Hyypia showed good passing skill with his long passes.

The Anfield crowed was buzzing right after Kuyt scored and it wasn't long before Liverpool found another way past the Villa defence. Steve Finnan sent a cross in for Crouch and in the most awkward way, managed to volley the ball right into the bottom left corner of Villa's goal. Finnan's cross was a poor one, but how Crouch managed to convert it is beyond me. The technique required to be able to volley the ball under pressure is not to be seen in just an average footballer. Peter Crouch is on fire and very hungry for goals. It's easy to see.

Liverpool added a third just before half time with a wonderfully worked goal. Gerrard in his usual 'pace and power' style, took on the Villa defence through the middle. His backheel fooled the Villa players and it found Kuyt and then Crouch. Luis Garcia's run from the left was not left unnoticed by Crouch, who sent a wonderful through pass for him and he made no mistake with a composed finish. 3-0 down at half time, Liverpool cruising.

But complacency plagued Liverpool once again as they allowed Villa back into the game. The trend of conceding goals in the second half has continued as Liverpool probably took their foot off the pedals combining with player's poor form and lapse of concentration which in all, didn't help.

Gabriel Agbonlahor, who has impressed me very much so far this season managed to sneak past the Hyypia-Carragher partnership and finishing off a well worked move from Villa, who seemed to have shaken up at half time by Martin O'Neill.

Liverpool could've been further ahead if not for some poor finish and luck with Kuyt, Gerrard and Fowler all coming close. Gerrard still hasn't found the net so far this season while Fowler surprised everyone in the ground when he put the ball into the side netting. Good win for the Reds, who will now be let off from further criticism for at least another week.

Drogballs' Thought: A good win despite conceding yet another goal. Was gutted to see Agbonlahor with that amount of space,leaving Carragher chasing shadows. But glad to see the players answering the critics with an energetic performance.

As I've mentioned, the passing, movement and ball retention in the first half was brilliant. Who'd thought Liverpool were capable of playing good football? No, I don't doubt it at all after watching this game and that I have came to a conclusion that this is the best team we can field and we should stick to it. I'm not criticising Rafa's rotation policy now, but I prefer it this way. New comers should fight for their place anyway.

To those people who still think that Gerrard's position is on the right wing, think again. Today he was everywhere on the pitch, playing the free role. Right hand side is where he belongs on paper, but he tends to drift into the middle due to Alonso's deep lying role which liberated some space for him to run into.

The goals were brilliantly worked and clinically finished. But again, we lacked the killer touch when certain opportunity arises and we need to put them away before it comes back and haunt us. Gerrard was again terribly unlucky not to score and will have to wait for another week as he continues trying his luck.

Everyone worked hard and played well at the end. It was frustrating not to add on a fourth or even fifth but at the end, 3 points are all that everyone cares and the goal difference row of the table will have to wait as Liverpool must now worked on to stabilise the ship and build on this good win.

We have said once and again this season that we should 'build on the win' but have failed miserably so far. Our season seemed to be like a car on the verge of a complete standstill and in quicksand. But just like last season, this period of time was when we went on a run with 12 straight defeats (I think!). Come on you Reds! Let the media eat their words and humble pie! Prove them wrong!

Player Ratings:

Reina 7 - Nothing much to do except a few punches a also a wonderful save from Chris Sutton's header.

Finnan 8 - Provided width and worked with Gerrard well. Good assist.

Hyypia 8 - Towering presence. Had a good game.

Carragher 7 - Agbonlahor took advantage of his lack of pace and even beat him to the header. Needs to improve and go back to his old form.

Riise 8 - A real handful for Villa to deal with. He couldn've scored as well, but his tireless run down the left proved to be very useful and had a great game.

Gerrard 8 - The free role meant he was everywhere on the pitch, right, left and centre. Showed passion and energy. Good game for the captain.

Alonso 9 - Get stuck in, does what he does best. Spraying passes and dictating the tempo.

Sissoko 8 - Ran around to close Villa players down. Seemingly narrowed the middle of the pitch for Villa with his coverage runs and tireless track back.

Luis Garcia 8 - Criticised for his poor performance against the Mancs, but stepped up his gear and showed what he was there for. Good movement and composed finished.

Kuyt 9 (MOM) - Scored a great goal and showed good awareness throughout. He held the ball up well and ran his bloody socks off. He's willing to chase for lost cause and a great player and never say die attitude.

Crouch 9 - Another contender for Man of the Match. I was very impressed with his first touch and his general awareness of where his fellow team mates were. His presence caused Liam Ridgewell lots of trouble and continued his good goal scoring form.



Hafiz said...

Kuyt's my MOM too .. Crouch deserve some shout out too

They are immense beyond immense !


Emma said...

Yes, yes, yes.

I Have Tagged You. Oblige or die.


Crouch should partner Kuyt from now on! Bellamy can go do some running and learn how not to run into offside trap for all I care! Hahaha.

Emma: okay man! Will do it once I have the time. :D

Elia said...

Good performence offensively defensively not great.Yes I do agree Kuyt and Crouch should partner up more I have been impressed by Peter he seems to be improving alot.I'm just happy the game was on the tele over here first game I got to watch with English commentary since the Community Shield.Its no use trying to stream it over the internet and use the English commentary on the official site it's like 4 minutes faster than the video stream.Time to learn Chinese lol

Anyways IF the title is out of reach we still have the Champions League.As history shows we might be due '77 '78 '81 '84 '05 '07?



Saw Crouchy and I must say that he does prove alot of people wrong with performances like that. His touch was good and it's odd to say Liverpool will struggle without him.

The only time you got to watch and it was flowing football. Lucky you, no need to endure some sh*tty performance for the past month or so!

Don't rule ourselves out of the Cl eh. The years does looked odd. Maybe it's all fate :D

RedsMan said...

Good result that was well needed considering, against a Villa side who held Arsenal and Chelsea at their respective grounds to a 1-1- draw and were unbeaten. Their main man was Agbonlahor, his pace was troubling and when he moved more central in the second half we were made to work but it was few and far between. Otherwise we were at our best since the season began from start to finish and we should, as has been the majority of cases, have finished them off with the flurry of chances we created. We hardly gave them a sniff, and we keep on creating we can grasp the scoring. We can do this at home, we sure as anything can convey it to away games, Just a matter of focus and time. We can do it.


P.S: Saw this banner in MOTD at Anfield - "En Rafa Que Confiamos" [In Rafa That We Trust], which I thought was superb, so my one would be to all the fans (particularly the pessimistic ones who crawl out after defeats but remain silent during the wins) - "Permita que no sea olvidado" [Let It Not Be Forgotten].


Yea, I've seen them play Chelsea and Arsenal on the road and they played pretty well to hold them off. Perhaps the honeymoon period is over for them as we've seen in recent weeks where they kinda struggled and drew a few games which they should've won easily. But I guess it all balance up and we can really go on from here. Because the performance was rather encouraging and we just need to tw*t someone on the road and we'll soon be finding feet away from Anfield.

Cheers mate. Humans are fickle, can't take the fact away. ;)