Aston Villa 0
Bellamy (11), Skrtel (15)
An easy win against a lame and tepid Villa side, I expected more. As it was they put up just the sort of resistance any team would have wanted before embarking on the busy Christmas schedule nothing too taxing and nothing much to offer by way of a challenge indeed at times they seemed to falling over themselves to give us the ball!
In fairness to Villa they were without two key players Agbonlahor and Bent and perhaps that was the difference between the two sides? Although we were still without Lucas and Gerrard we had enough in reserve for Kenny to spring a mild surprise with his team selection and bring in Jonjo Shelvey perhaps saving players such as Kuyt for later in the “holiday”? Stuart Downing started against his old club. Bellamy was picked to partner Suarez upfront.
Both sides had early but not particularly guilt edged chances Petrov, weakly from a free kick, and then Downing, amid the predictable boos, firing low to Guzan’s left from distance. Heskey headed straight into Reina’s hands but he was offside. However, it was not long before we, and Downing, got the perfect breakthrough.
The ex Villa man’s corner was “back heel flicked” on by Shelvey into the danger zone. The resulting scramble to get the final touch saw Suarez attempting the same manoeuvre. Guzan managed to block this but Bellamy was on hand to follow up with the easiest of conversions. Five minutes later Christmas came early (you always have to get that cliché in at this time of year!) and from another set piece. Skrtel easily evaded the attentions of Dunne and Hutton and got up well to glance home Bellamy’s corner from the left.
Villa tried vainly to get in a quick retaliation from N’Zogbia (twice) and then Delfouneso however, with the cushion of two goals we looked confident and Villa’s uneasiness every time we got a set piece was very apparent. Suarez nearly set up Shelvey with a nug meg on Petrov however Guzan was alert to the danger however, we were content to patiently knock the ball around and bide our time until the break.
Early in the second half came a move that summed up Luis Suarez’s time with us. He dispossessed Dunne beat him again dummied Collins and, with all the hard work done, he smashed the ball against the underside of the cross bar. Brilliant stuff and chance created by all his own work however once again we see the finishing letting us down. One is almost tempted to say it doesn’t matter so good is Suarez to watch. Witness his next party piece which involved him dwelling on the ball as play stopped because everyone though he had handled and then, when he’d realised there was nothing on, chipping Cuzan only to see his effort bounce off the post.
By now were swarming over Villa and should have been out of sight. Before the Suarez effort Warnock passed straight to Johnson who shot was well saved by Guzan. Then Shelvey (twice from the left) and Adam, who waltzed in hindered down the centre, missing good chances. Villa had good claim for a penalty turned down when Agger appeared to handle Albrighton’s shot.
As the clock ticked down Kenny, no doubt mindful of Wednesday’s game against Wigan, replaced Suarez with Carroll, Bellamy with Kuyt and Shelvey with Carragher. It was a move designed to shore things up a the back and protect the lead however, Shelvey’s turn was good one the loan period at Blackpool and being played a more forward position must have done him good? He looked comfortable and so did the team. More please!
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Warnock, Dunne, Collins, N’Zogbia, Albrighton, Delph (Weimann 80), Petrov, Delfouneso, Heskey (Bannan 56) Substitutes: Marshall, Clark, Cuellar, Bannan, Johnson, Weimann, Burke
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Henderson, Downing, Adam, Shelvey (Carragher 83), Suarez (Carroll 73), Bellamy (Kuyt 88) Substitutes: Doni, Coates, Carragher, Kelly, Maxi, Carroll, Kuyt