Reds not down and out despite bump in the road.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers should take heart from that fact that his side earned a point rather than dropped two against a bi-polar Aston Villa side at the weekend as their quest for Champions League football marches on.
The Reds found themselves down by two shock first half goals as a sneaky finish from Andi Weimann and a free header from Christian Benteke gave the travelling support hope of a similar result to last season’s.
However, a well worked goal just before the half put the Villans on the backfoot and Luis Suarez was able to capitalise on some rash goalkeeping in the second to allow Steven Gerrard to put the side level.
The mood was desolate afterwards, but a spirited Villa side cannot be overlooked. There is no reason to panic for Reds fans, Villa have had a good record on Merseyside over the past few seasons and after a good showing on their own patch against Arsenal on Monday they came to Anfield with a renewed confidence.
Rodgers can perhaps be slightly guilty of using this game to experiment when he didn’t need to. Villa have been massively inconsistent this season, but Rodgers should have recognised that they fare slightly better on the road and the way Rodgers set up the team virtually played right into Paul Lambert’s hands.
Villa’s midfield diamond suffocated Gerrard, who was deployed in a new role as a deep lying playmaker. Whenever he got the ball there was somebody there trying to take it off of him without giving him a moment to think.
Conscious of the contribution Andrea Pirlo makes to Juventus in his twilight years, Rodgers wants Gerrard to perform a similar role. However, they are, and always have been, two completely different players and though Gerrard is no spring chicken at 33-years-old, he still has the influence and presence to control and dominate a game as he displayed in the second half once moved forward.
There is pressure on Liverpool to obtain Champions League football, but there is no longer any pressure on them to win the title. Everybody knows that it is still too soon to seriously consider a title push, but the former is more than within their reach. If they can put into practice what they already know how to do, and do well, then trips to Milan, Amsterdam and Madrid will be back on the cards next term.
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