Sunday, December 18, 2011

Live Thoughts: Aston Villa vs Liverpool (Premier League)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts on the match between Aston Villa and Liverpool.

Hey there, thanks for joining me on another live thoughts feed. Like the new banner above? Don't care? Okay, moving on.

Well we did enough to beat QPR last week and managed to win at home, and win against a promoted side, something for some reason we couldn't do. So we had a lot of ticks in boxes last week. Unfortunately with our defeat at Fulham we lost our undefeated away streak, but we can rebuild a new one can't we? Starting at Aston Villa? My confidence going into this match is at a middle point, I'm not overly confident but I know we can win today and in theory, we're expected to win, especially if we are to keep up with the Top 5 (or 6 if you count Newcastle). So let's get to it!

Here are the teams:

Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Albrighton, Delph, Petrov, N'Zogbia, Heskey, Delfouneso. Subs: Marshall, Clark, Cuellar, Bannan, Weimann, Johnson, Burke.

They don't look as strong as they could be. No Darren Bent or Agbonlahor, Heskey and Delfouneso come in the side instead and they don't have the best goal scoring records. Fabien Delph is a heck of a potential talent but he's barely shown it for Villa. Their best player on the pitch is N'Zogbia who is great when on form but crap when not. I feel they're there for the taking based on this line-up, but I'm going to eat my words now as Heskey scores a hat-trick against us!

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Enrique, Skrtel, Agger, Adam, Henderson, Shelvey, Downing, Suarez, Bellamy. Subs: Doni, Carroll, Maxi, Coates, Kuyt, Carragher, Kelly.

Jonjo Shelvey gets his first start of the season for us and I'm pretty happy about that. It's nice to see Kenny give thriving young talent a platform to climb to. Shelvey was on fire for Blackpool on loan and let's hope that energy and confidence can be moved to the bigger Red shirt. Kuyt and Maxi are benched, which is a shame but you can only fit 11 players on the field. Bellamy gets another start which is also welcome by me.

2' - Free kick early on for Aston Villa, Charlie Adam brings down Charles N'Zogbia. It's about 30 yards out. Stiliyan Petrov takes it and it's not a good free kick, luckily for us.

5' - Major boos for Stewart Downing at Villa Park due to his exit, where he said he wasn't going anywhere and then went to us. Fair enough I suppose. 

8' - It's been a back and forth match so far, not much to report. Jonjo Shelvey has been given a decent amount of freedom as an attacking midfielder, something he didn't really get last season. He thrived in that role for Blackpool remember.

10' - GOAL! Craig Bellamy!! A corner from Stewart Downing is back heeled by Shelvey and Suarez shoots but it's saved by Guzan, and Bellamy fumbles it in via deflection!

12' - Charles N'Zogbia is in the book.

12' - All the jeering for Downing does make me laugh. It's not like Torres, who was at our club for three years, was a star player and left us at a testing period. Downing was with Villa for one full season (due to injuries prior), and while he was one of the best players at the Villa, he wasn't their star player. And they got a good deal from us, a nice amount of money.

14' - GOAL! Martin Skrtel! Two goals in four minutes! Bellamy corner, he whips it in perfectly and Skrtel just heads it in. So simple! Fantastic stuff! 

16' - Us Liverpool fans have been saying for weeks due to our horrendous shots/goals ratio that we're due to give a drubbing to a team soon. Can this be the day?

17' - Alex McLeish must be really angry, his squad have let two simple set piece goals in, in 4 minutes. Bad for them but great for us. 

18' - N'Zogbia whips in a dangerous cross and Reina claims with considerable ease. 

20' - N'Zogbia has a bit of space and shoots from a good 30 yards and it's only just over the bar. Best chance for Villa so far.

20' - Possession is 61%/39% in Liverpool's favour. Really dominant at the moment. 

22' - N'Zogbia has another good effort, this one hitting the side netting from the left. The last two minutes have been end to end for both sides, both going for goal.

25' - A few corners in succession for Liverpool, I hope this game is not like QPR when we had about 20 corners... 

27' - Charlie Adam gets in the book for a few tackles in succession that result in going in Villa's favour. He was warned and he got the card.

29' - Craig Bellamy goes in the book now as he clips Albrighton on the Villa right wing, Albrighton goes down like a ton of bricks and it was Bellamy's reactions that got him the yellow card, as it usually is. 

30' - Petrov takes a shot at goal and it's saved comfortably by Reina. 

33' - The game has slowed down dramatically by the way, I don't know why. But I'm glad it's slowed down with a 2-0 lead rather than the 0-0 we're usually with at this point of other games.

34' - Suarez nutmegs Petrov and lays the ball in for Shelvey who earns us a corner. 

36' - The corner is dealt with but we pile on the pressure, the pressure which ends with Shelvey in space and takes a low shot that's comfortably saved by Guzan. 

39' - A bit of Villa pressure now, they can't enter our box but they're piling around it. 

42' - The game is actually dead at the moment, I think both sides are just waiting for the whistle to regroup and start again.

45' - Two minutes of added time. 

45+2' - Half time.

Well we're two goals up in the first 14 minutes and that's great. But then after that the game was just... dead. Villa seemed down and out and it felt like we were fighting with an unanimated corpse. Their lack of interest made the game boring. I hope that the second half becomes lively again as I was hoping this was the "finally we thrash the opposition" match we've been waiting for. But since the two goals they've defended well enough and we've not threatened as much. But despite all this moaning about the lack of quality match, I should just be happy we're 2-0 up and there's still 45 minutes of football to go, in which hopefully we can score more and keep a clean sheet. Here's hoping.

46' - Agger almost scores in the first minute! A lovely cross from Bellamy again and Agger heads it just wide!

47' - SUAREZ! It hit the crossbar and out! So close! He nicks the ball of Dunne and shoots straight at the bar!

49' - Bellamy is brought down by Petrov and the Welshman protests that Petrov should be yellow carded. Justified in my opinion.

52' - Glen Johnson has a shot from a good 25 yards out and Guzan tips it over the bar! Much better second half so far!

55' - They're showing Barry Bannan getting ready to come on, probably for Fabien Delph.

57' - Aston Villa Sub: Barry Bannan comes on for Emile Heskey, not Delph. N'Zogbia will probably link higher up now.

58' - SUAREZ! Off the post! How has he not scored yet! Suarez is let loose, onside, and Suarez, just outside of the box, dinks the ball over the defence and keeper, and it hit the post! Lovely perception from the Uruguayan!

60' - ADAM! Deflected off a Villa defender! A little selfish there from Adam, he passes two Villa shirts and Shelvey was free to his left, but he goes for glory and it his a claret shirt and for a corner. 

61' - Wow, it's 13 shots to 11, according to the stats, in Liverpool's favour. Only 4 of Villa's have been on target mind, to Liverpool's 9. 

63' - They just showed a replay of Suarez hitting the post, he controlled the ball with his hand anyway, so it's probably good that he didn't score. The lad has enough controversy at the moment as it is. 

65' - Shelvey! Wide! The ball is over the top and Suarez lays it perfectly to Shelvey, who smashes it and it's high and wide. Could have done better than that if he composed himself. 

68' - Another small spell of pressure for Villa. But they're not threatening too much with it.

71' - Not much to report at the moment, the game has eased again. 

73' - Liverpool Sub: Luis Suarez comes off and Andy Carroll is coming on. He really needs a goal.

74' - Albrighton takes a shot and it deflects off Agger. The Villa are claiming a handball but it's hard to say without a replay. 

75' - 15 minutes to go, the commentators are saying it took us this amount of time to score 2, now can Villa do it, I really doubt it, but sods law would suggest I'll eat my words now! 

78' - Andreas Weimann is preparing to come on, he's a young Austrian striker who's yet to score for Villa.

79' - Aston Villa Sub: Fabien Delph comes off and Weimann takes his place. 

80' - Jamie Carragher is about to come on to get some minutes. It's amazing how he's barely played this season, but maybe it is time for him to start to wind down. There will inevitably be a time when we need him later this season though. 

82' - Liverpool Substitution: Carra comes on in place of Jonjo Shelvey, who has had a decent game. 

85' - We're playing again on Wednesday by the way, against Wigan, don't miss that. I'll be covering that game too, although I won't be covering  the Boxing Day match against Blackburn, or the Newcastle match after that. I try not to do much site work at Christmas I'm afraid.

87' - Liverpool Substitution: Dirk Kuyt comes on for Craig Bellamy, who for me has probably been the man of the match for me. Carra has taken the captains armband by the way, and that's all three Liverpool subs used.

89' - Charlie Adam concedes a free kick just outside the penalty box, towards the right. It hits the wall and out again. 

90' - Three minutes of added time. 

90+2' - 4 out of 5 games now for Villa not to score in. They've been absolutely dreadful today, I have a few relatives who are Villa fans and I feel sorry for them in honesty, nothing to cheer for, nothing going forward at the moment. The only good thing to say for them is they have Agbonlahor and Bent to come back to score goals for them, hopefully. 

90+3' - Full time.

Our first back-to-back wins in nearly 3 months. It's something we need to start doing now, get on a winning streak rather than an undefeated streak. The good news is we got two goals from set pieces very quickly. The bad news is that we didn't build on that, it felt at the time like we were about to thrash Villa, but we put the foot off the gas for whatever reason. The start of the second half was great again, with Suarez hitting the post and woodwork. But in the end, we won again which is great, we're back in sixth place which is great, and we have another away match against Wigan on Wednesday, where hopefully we can win three in a row before taking on Newcastle which will be a very interesting match. That's it from me, enjoy the rest of your day.

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