Liverpool started this game with what is probably the standard line up bar one. Reina in goal, Johnson, Carra, Agger and Insua back four, Lucas and Aquilani central midfield, Kuyt out on the right, Benayoun out of the left, Torres in front and Gerrard licenses to roam the forward line. With the current squad I feel many would agree that the only change would be Mascherano for Lucas, and not because Lucas does not deserve to play. Just because Mascherano offers definitely more cover in front of defence and he has a very high ball recover rate.
Conditions were not perfect with a light snowfall, especially in the first 45 minutes, but it’s something to expect this time of year.
Today I won’t go much into detail but I will say that this is a game we would have deserved to draw but luck took a turn in our favour this time round and blessed us with a fabulous and much needed victory. Suddenly we are 4 points away from 4th spot, and still have half the season to play.
Admittedly, the result was harsh on Villa. They had two clear cut chances which Reina saved,so now I forgive his two blunders against Portsmouth. Agger is getting better but Johnson and Insua still leave us uncovered one time too often on their flanks. Aquilani played another 75 minutes which is fantastic given he seemed to have a hamstring issue prior to the game. Gerrard seemed to work harder than usual and Torres was not give much space and long balls to chase, the one he finally did get, on minute 92, he scored. God Bless Him. Kuyt seemed slightly sharper after the weekend’s rest. Again not a vintage Liverpool performance but given the pressure, the conditions and all other collateral causes we got three priceless points. Lucas, as always, ran his socks off.
Our next PL game is with fourth placed and hence direct competitors Tottenham Hotspurs as Anfield, which is a very vital game as it is a direct CL finish play-off match. After that away games to Stoke and Wolves, which will be tough but which should be within our reach for maximum points (and I am not being over optimistic).
All the tops teams seem to be beatable this season, and everyone is dropping points here and there. Chelsea and Arsenal may have issues with players leaving for the African Cup. We have to work on our confidence and get the lads to gel together again. A good win against Reading in the FA Cup round and victory at home against Spurs would be the perfect tonic.
May I take the opportunity to wish you all my best wishes for 2010. As a Liverpool fan it was a wonderful way to end 2009! Thanks Antoine for keeping us all in touch.