Steven Gerrard’s much-publicized return to Anfield with Aston Villa finished in a 1-0 defeat as Liverpool made it seven wins on the bounce in all competitions.
The media have done nothing but speak and question the new Villa boss about his return to Anfield since he took the reigns at Villa Park. I am sure I am not alone when I say I am glad it’s done and we can move on now.
Gerrard made it clear that it was more about getting three points against the side he supported as a boy. Having picked up three wins from four Villa set out making it as difficult as possible despite the home sides dominance.
Despite not looking a threat going forward, Villa looked solid defensively, backed up by five outstanding saves from goalkeeper Emi Martinez.
Eventually, Liverpool got a break when Tyrone Mings was judged to have fouled Mo Salah in the penalty area. The Egyptian stepped up and slotted past Martinez to give the Reds the lead.
Villa introduced Danny Ings and the former Liverpool man nearly made his own headlines when he was taken down in the penalty area. This time the referee and VAR said no despite replays showing that Alisson touched the striker’s legs.
Gerrard left Anfield frustrated by the officials but proud of his sides defensive efforts. Villa can take a lot from the narrow defeat and will learn and move on.
- Once again we are here talking about officials. There were two big talking points, both penalty claims for both sides. The first, the foul on Salah. Salah appeared to foul Mings first who then lost his footing and fell into the Egyptian. I can see what it was given but it’s extremely harsh in my opinion and could have gone either way.
- Then we can move on to Villa’s claim. Again it could have gone either way but it favoured the home side yet again.
- On top of that, Virgil van Dijk was a very lucky man to still be on the pitch. The defender was booked early on and then later in the game clearly elbowed Marvelous Nakamba. I accept that the referee may not have seen it but again, what’s the point to VAR if things like that go unpunished?
- Defensively we were solid and made it very difficult for one of the best sides in Europe right now. Most would accept that Liverpool have the ability to tear sides apart but just as we did against Manchester City a few weeks ago, we made them work for it. Credit to Liverpool but they would have known they had been in a game when that final whistle was blown last night.
- Emi Martinez looks back to his best. A few had questioned the Argentina goalkeeper’s form earlier this season but five top-class saves helped keep Villa in the game.
- A special mention goes to Steven Gerrard too. He made Villa solid and hard to beat but on top of that he had to deal with the media pressure around his return to Anfield. I felt he handled it well and was respectful towards both sets of supporters. As I previously mentioned, I am sure I am not alone when I say I am glad this game is done with now.
Tuesday, 14th December – 19.45.
Villa will come up against Dean Smith for the first time since his departure. Smith left Villa with his head held high and the majority of Villa fans will wish him luck at his venture at Norwich. Except against Aston Villa of course.