Villa (10 men) v Pool (12)
Attendance: 42 640
Well, there you go, the highs and lows of football.
In so many ways we matched Liverpool today, in so many ways but one, quality. They had another gear to step into, we didn't.
The game certainly wasn't helped by the fact that we were down to ten men right from the start as the mercurial Stiliyan Petrov once again proved a liability and the fact Liverpool had 12 men, as Mike Riley might just as well have been in a Liverpool shirt. I'm sorry but he was atrocious today, must have been up for the 'can I be any worse than Uriah Rennie' award. Yes Riley, you can. Jermaine Pennant was on a yellow card. He raised his hands and pushed Wilf, that is a second yellow. Wilf got a yellow for his part but because Liverpool are a top four team, they can't have red cards against them. Riley, you gifted them the game when Villa were already up against it.
Villa didn't want for endeavour and hopefully against 'lesser' teams might be able to get some points, but when you look at the difference in the benches today, you can see why Liverpool will again be a top four side and why Villa again won't be. They had Babbel to bring on, we have Harewood. No disrespect but if you buy at the bottom end of the market, you end up mid table or bottom end of the Premiership.
That said, our lads did as well as they could today, it isn't there fault there haven't been any quality additions to the team and they gave all they could. We tried to be fast on the ball but Liverpool at times gave us lessons on how to make insightful forward passes. We had our moments though and there are certainly glimmers of hope, I'd certainly back us to give most teams a battle and with a more solid keeper and hopefully a right back, I can see us pushing for Europe, trouble is I can see another 10 odd teams doing the same.
Today certainly wasn't a disaster, Liverpool got lucky with their first goal after Martin Laursen (who went off at half time feeling sick and who had apparently not been well before the game - so at least it wasn't an injury) scored an own goal. Villa of old would have let their heads drop but this season at the very least there appears to be a team spirit and they carried on fighting. We got the break in the 85th minute when Gareth Barry - who in my humble opinion looked a quality apart from the rest of our boys today - converted a penalty. That was it, we'd earnt our first draw most of us thought. But it wasn't to be. Petrov gave the ball away once again, Liverpool came forward, one of their players got blocked and Riley gave an inevitable free kick. Up stepped Steven Gerrard, who to be fair had done very little all game hopefully thanks to Nigel Reo-Coker containing him, and one world class free kick later, the claret and blue hearts were broken.
On endeavour, desire and fighting spirit, it would have been great to see Villa get a point out of this game, but we don't seem to get the luck and in my heart of hearts, I can't say that a win for Liverpool was totally out of context for this game, bad refereeing or not. Some will agree, some will disagree I guess.
Our poll asked for your predictions, 25% were correct saying we'd lose. 25% said a draw and 49% had the wind knocked out of their sales as they expected a win. Our latest poll is asking for your man of the match, however there appears to be a technical glitch on the site so at present it isn't showing!
Match stats: Click Here
Stuart Taylor 6.
Craig Gardner 7.
Olof Mellberg 5.5.
Martin Laursen 6.
Wilfred Bouma 6.
Ashley Young 6.
Gareth Barry 8.
Nigel Reo-Coker 7.
Stiliyan Petrov 3.
John Carew 5.
Gabriel Agbonlahor 5.
Gary Cahill 6.
Good to be back!