|photo by Lucas Baisso||via PhotoRee|
Scott is just not feeling it:
Liverpool welcomed Aston Villa on Saturday and proved to be too gracious as hosts, allowing Gabriel Agbonlahor to skewer in a loose ball in the 6 yard box that was not appropriately cleared from a corner. That goal ended up being decisive as the Reds, sans the services of Daniel Sturridge, were unable to equalize despite controlling the entire second half.
The first half, however, showed the Villans to be a high-energy, disciplined side as they had the greater share of possession for large periods of time and threatened repeatedly. Philippe Senderos, in particular, should have widened their margin but was unable to put his open header on frame. Perhaps his mind was elsewhere given his bullying of Mario Balotelli throughout the game. The Swiss defender’s antics were shameful as he repeatedly harassed the Italian defender, resorting on more than one occasion to literally kicking out at him when the ball was nowhere close. Understandably, the referee did not see these incidents so they went unpunished. And while Balotelli did not retaliate, it seems the damage might have been done nonetheless as he was rather impotent on the day and was eventually substituted at the 70 minute mark.
Raheem Sterling started on the bench, which to me seemed a curious decision given Sturridge’s absence. But with a Champions League match on Tuesday and the lessons of Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen still echoing, Brendan Rodgers chose to rest the youngster at first before sending him on to inject some creativity for the last half hour. It was too little too late and Liverpool’s teen sensation was unable to work any brilliance to equalize.
In fact, it was the previously quiet Philippe Coutinho who almost got the job done with some exceptional dribbling that created enough space for himself just outside the area to lash a shot that rattled the post. Rickie Lambert came on as a late sub and had an excellent chance to open his scoring account at Anfield but ended up getting the ball mixed up in his legs. Fabio Borini was another late substitution but failed to impose himself on the game. Adam Lallana debuted and looked dangerous at times but is clearly still shaking off the rust from his injury. Javier Manquillo, recently so solid at the back, was left chasing too many times.
In the end, with Aston Villa defending for their lives and Liverpool pressing relentlessly, the three points went to the visitors who remain unbeaten in the league. And Liverpool is left to continue to piece together their players and systems with Champions League play imminent and the league leaders slipping farther ahead.
This is farlieonfootie for September 15.