Monday, December 17, 2012

Three Steps Back: Aston Villa 3 - Liverpool 1

photo by pawpaw67via PhotoRee

Scott's a bit discouraged:

After what seemed like one step forward against West Ham last week, resulting in a top 10 table place for the first time this season, Liverpool quickly and ignominiously exceeded the proverbial two steps back by conceding 3 goals at home, to bottom-dwelling Aston Villa, and losing 3-1 with only a garbage-time score keeping them from total humiliation. In a retread of their early-season exploits, the Reds dominated possession, shots, tempo and pretty much anything else you can think of. Except for goals.

Aston Villa executed the counter-attack game plan to perfection. With nary a sniff of goal for the first 29 minutes save a weak Christian Benteke header in the second minute, Aston Villa was being utterly dominated. But then, in the 29th minute, Liverpool gave too much space to Benteke who unleashed a speculative shot from 30 yards out that caught Pepe Reina off=guard and struck the inside of the post, putting the visitors ahead, much to the dismay of the Kopite faithful.

Here we go again.... With Luis Suarez back in the lineup and constant pressure on goal, not to mention nearly 70% of the possession, a goal for the Reds seemed as likely as a politician prevaricating. But there were early warning signs. Like when, in the 6th minute, Suarez had Steven Gerrard wide open in front of goal but put his pass behind the streaking captain. Or the fact that the normally frighteningly dangerous Raheem Sterling couldn't seem to get his crosses right.

Even after the goal, Liverpool pressed on as the team far more likely to score. But it was Paul Lambert's men who actually did the deed, again on a counter attack. This time, and it is hard to say, it was a thing of beauty. Benteke was played through and he back-heeled to a wide-open and salivating Andreas Weimann who made no mistake.

Two nil down at halftime seemed an alternative reality to the play on the field. But the nets were bulging the wrong way, sort of like Brendan Rodgers' carotids.

The second half finished a 1-1 draw but it really seemed much like the first - overwhelming Liverpool possession, countless squandered chances, and then an against-the-run-of-play Benteke goal aided by abysmal defending. Gerrard's glancing header from Glen Johnson's shot, just before the final whistle, was not nearly enough to atone for the previous 85-odd minutes.

My children will have to understand - it is not Christmas for which I so anxiously await. It is the January transfer window and the additional striker that it will undoubtedly bring. Dear Santa, forget the tie this year...

This is farlieonfootie for December 17, 2012.

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