It’s been a week of rest and relaxation for most of the Premier League sides with international football taking the headlines in the previous weekend, but now normality resumes for this lunchtime fixture that sees Liverpool FC visiting relegation threatened Aston Villa.
|It was disappointment for Liverpool FC last week after the 3-1 defeat to Southampton dealt a huge blow to their European hopes. Down, but not out, Liverpool had it all to play for and were led out by a young man sharing the same spirit. Nine year old LFC fan Joshua Jackson led his away side onto the pitch and on Twitter the hashtag “JoshuaBeatingCancer” was trending to raise awareness for the biggest warrior of them all on the pitch today.Lee Mason would be the referee in the middle of it all for the 90 minute clash at Villa Park.
The match quickly settled into a pattern of Liverpool possession in the first 15 minutes with the visitors only allowing 30 percent possession to Villa until Gabby Agbonlahor was given a gift and carried it right to the face of goal, but his touch landed right at the feet of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina who was standing just a yard in front of the striker. Surely a wasted chance early on.
It was all Villa through the next 15 minutes and they made sure they wouldn’t miss another. Agbonlahor was given a through ball on the left corner of the 18 yard box and he wouldn’t miss again, because he laid the ball off to Christian Benteke who was waiting in the middle of the box and his shot landed just short of Reina’s full reach and was able to take a fortunate bounce into the net to make the score 1-nil at Villa Park after 31 minutes.
But after the goal it seemed that a switch was flipped and it was Liverpool who were putting all the pressure on American goalkeeper Brad Guzan with Suarez and Gerrard constantly dropping shots through the end of the half.
Liverpool were in no mood to let Villa’s run of possession dominance continue and it was Jordan Henderson to deliver that message in the 47th minute. Phillipe Coutinho was given a perfect ball on the left wing and in turn Coutinho saw Henderson in a perfect position for a through ball. The through ball landed perfectly to Jordan Henderson who chipped the ball over the advanced keeper Brad Guzan and shook the back of the net for the 1-1.
First booking of the match came shortly after when Steven Gerrard made a clattering challenge to spark a furious debate between referee and players alike.
Liverpool weren’t done there, though. Nine minutes later it was the winger Coutinho who found himself alone in space in front of Guzan, but his shot went to the right of the keeper and right of the woodwork as well, just inches beyond the post.
Two minutes later Glen Johnson met Liverpool’s arch enemy, the woodwork. And Liverpool were given one more chance just for good measure. This time, it was a penalty after Luis Suarez was tackled on the right side of the box and the clear decision was given. Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to the spot, slotted it down to the left corner, and although Brad Guzan guessed right, it wasn’t enough. 2-1 was now the score to the visiting Scousers.
Gerrard was inspired after that goal to be the dynamo on the pitch and his defensive prowess showed after Gerrard dove several yards toward his own goal to clear a laser of a shot with his forehead. Keeper Pepe Reina showed his appreciation with a big kiss to Gerrard’s forehead.
The first two subs of the match were then made by the home side when they replaced Barry Bannan and Andreas Weimann for Fabian Delph and Charles N’Zogbia.
More subs followed for Villa in the 76th minute when Karim El Ahmadi made way for Yacouba Sylla. And Liverpool made their first change when the youngster Phillipe Coutinho gave way to his even younger counterpart Raheem Sterling.
It was joy and bedlam in the 93rd minute when Christian Benteke scored the winner and celebrated for moments before the flag was raised for offside and ruined what would have been a crucial draw for the Villains.
Moments later, it was the final whistle that signaled the end of regulation and what was the end of a heartbreaking day for Aston Villa.
Villa are still just one point above the relegation zone with Wigan Athletic threatening to leap frog out and leave their rivals in the dust. Aston Villa now have to travel to Stoke and then welcome Fulham in the coming weeks to make their run to stay in the Premier League.
The Reds are still in seventh just five points from their cross-town rivals Everton. Liverpool now get six days rest before returning to Anfield for what should be another thriller with West Ham on Sunday the 7th. Reading host Liverpool six days after that and then on the 21st of April it will be Chelsea make their annual league visit to Anfield for what will be an important fixture in the race for European football