Liverpool played Aston Villa at Villa Park Yesterday. The match was important for both the teams as Liverpool are looking to push on and gain momentum from the much precious form they have found lately whereas Villa on the other hand are struggling to break the jinx in front of goal with just 11 goals this season. The match ended in a 2-0 victory for the Reds with goals coming from Borini and Lambert. Lets have a look at the talking points from yesterday’s game.
Defence Sorted Out :
Playing with a back 4, Lovren and Skrtel as centre backs , Liverpool were leaking goals. The manager recieved severe criticism and had to find a way. Brendan Rodger’s switched to a back 3 involving Can, Sakho and Skrtel. This new system has produced better results for Liverpool with 2 clean sheets in the last two games and the best defensive record in December. Although Can prefers the CM position, the young German has looked composed and comfortable at the back completing 90% of his passes and making three successful interceptions, alongside one block and eleven clearances in the game . Sakho has been good with aerial balls and his tackling has been impressive.Sakho kept the ball well, with an 86% pass accuracy, while he defended astutely too; making four interceptions and a mammoth 17 clearances. Sakho’s return from injury has given a much needed boost to Liverpool’s defence.Liverpool looked as though they would concede with Villa throwing men forward early in the second half but the Reds held on with some gritty defending.
Goalkeeper regaining confidence :
Up until December , Simon Mignolet was on a downward spiral with his performances deteriorating with every passing game. His game was being closely scrutinized by critics and his poor form was making matters worse for Liverpool. Mignolet was averaging 1.16 goals per game and Liverpool had conceded as many as 6 goals from set pieces alone. His tendency to pop out to get the ball during set pieces has received some well deserved stick. He was comfortable with the ball at his feet , had a couple of jittery moments but denied clear cut chances to Benteke. With Brad Jones injured, this is perhaps Mignolet’s last chance to salvage and secure his position as Liverpool’s number 1. Since his return Mignolet has been slightly better . Although still not at his usual best , he has been able to keep the much required clean sheets in the last two games. As per Brendan Rodgers , Mignolet made ” two outstanding saves”. It seems as though the out of favour Belgian has finally started taking baby steps in the right direction once again.
Outstanding Lucas :
In the 3-4-2-1 formation that Liverpool are currently playing, the role of the defensive midfielder cannot be undermined. The defensive midfielder plays at the base of the midfield and adds an extra layer of protection to the 3 man backline. That is precisely what Lucas has done so very well for Liverpool over the course of this season. Flying in with important interceptions and crucial tackles to regain possession , Lucas has been the silent driving force in Liverpool’s upturn in form. There was some speculation that the Brazilian might be heading to Italy with interest from Napoli but that can be put to rest given his displays for Liverpool. His presence has ensured more command and possession for Liverpool in the midfield. one can judge his importance merely by the stat that with him in the side the Reds have only lost 1 game this season and it was no different at Villa Park with the Reds commanding the midfield and creating close to 45 chances in the game .
Goals from outcasts :
Since Sturridge’s injury , goals have been hard to come by for the Reds. With just 31 goals from 22 games it is safe to say that the goals have fairly dried up given the absence of the SAS. However things are looking better now with Borini and Lambert both chipping in with the much needed goals to set up a 2-0 victory. Borini who got the opportunity to start the second time this season looked rusty and squandered a few chances , not being able to link properly with Coutinho and Sterling but he was fortunate to pounce on a lobbed cross from Henderson. Lambert on the other hand provided a clinical finish from the edge of the box , shooting it diagonally along the ground after a wonderful first touch to make it 2-0. Two strikers who have failed to hit the ground running are making it count finally.
Crucial Substitution :
With Liverpool in the lead , the Villains upped the ante at the beginning of the second half as they attempted to make way back into the game, but Brendan Rodgers responded well by making two clever substitutions. Villa were redundant in creating opportunities down the Liverpool left where problems were starting to be caused as Alberto Moreno found it difficult to stop the waves of attack by Villa midfielders this bypassing led to Sakho being dragged into uncomfortable positions, and Rodgers had to respond by introducing the more physical and defensive minded Enrique, who offered a better support down the flank and Liverpool looked comfortable since. Lambert on for the rusty Borini also proved to be the midas touch from Rodgers’s as the boyhood Liverpool fan made it 2-0 for the Reds.
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