It was a disappointing afternoon at Anfield as Aston Villa surrendered a lead in our 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.
Ollie Watkins opened the scoring just before half-time, but goals from Mohamed Salah and an injury-time winner from Trent Alexander-Arnold sealed it for the hosts.
With Manchester City next, it doesn’t get any easier for Villa as our hopes of European qualification appear to be diminishing, but there were both positives and negatives from the defeat this weekend.
Missed opportunity for Villa against vulnerable Liverpool
Liverpool’s home form has been poor so far in 2021, and so there was certainly a big opportunity for us ahead of kick-off.
Despite being second best in the first half, we managed to take a lead before the break and were ultimately well positioned to secure another win.
However, through our own poor defensive play and our inability to take advantage of the fact that we made it an evenly-fought contest in the second half, the defeat comes with a significant tinge of disappointment that we couldn’t return home with something to show for our efforts.
That’s now 12 goals in the Premier League this season for our frontman, as he continues to showcase his quality up top both on and off the ball.
It was a sharp finish to break the deadlock, albeit Alisson should have done better, while his first touch, link-up play and movement caused the Liverpool defence problems.
It’s a solid return in his first year in the top flight, and it’s hoped that he can continue to improve and develop his game, while we must try to add more quality around him in the summer transfer window.
Lack of attacking quality hurts us again
John McGinn showed his class with his assist, but there wasn’t enough from the likes of Trezeguet, Bertrand Traore and the substitutes as we lacked quality in the final third yet again.
Being without Jack Grealish naturally takes away a big part of our game and lots of creative spark, but it’s also exposing the lack of ability in the rest of the group.
The players named above chip in with goals and assists and possess quality, but it’s too inconsistent and sporadic to suggest that we can rely on them moving forward. Squad players, yes. Starters, proving not to be.
Lightweight midfield missing something
Before January, the dynamic in midfield was working well and as part of the bigger picture it allowed us to dictate the tempo of games and enjoy plenty of possession.
That has fallen off in a big way over the last three months and if Saturday’s defeat showed us something, it was that we’re too lightweight in that department and can be overpowered.
Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba both had decent games, but if we can add a steely enforcer who can really stamp his authority against the opposition, we’ll be vastly better for it.
Martinez a leader
Naturally his eye-catching saves will get attention, but the Argentine’s leadership from between the posts is a huge factor in why we’ve been so improved defensively this season.
From encouragement for his teammates, even those further up the field nearer the half-way line, to his organisational skills to ensure the backline has moved up to a suitable position on the pitch, he is non-stop vocally.
He has proven to be an excellent addition, and although the result didn’t go our way this weekend, Martinez was another who stood out for positive reasons.