Liverpool produced one of their most effective performances of the season to destroy Aston Villa. Two goals in quick succession saw Liverpool take command of the game from the very start. David N’Gog’s opener was rapidly followed by Ryan Babel capitalising on the controversial decision to rule him onside – his swivel and finish nevertheless a goal of true class. Maxi Rodriguez’s excellent third put the game beyond doubt, although in reality Villa rarely posed a threat.
The victory moves Liverpool onto 22 points, eighth in the Premier League. The convincing nature of the victory will have optimists hoping that it can prove a springboard to challenge for European football next season. Matching such a performance away from Anfield will be the challenge.
Babel proves worth.
“I’ve never written Babel off,” Roy Hodgson told the Daily Telegraph following the talented Dutchman’s impressive display against Aston Villa. Given that Hodgson, like Rafa Benitez before him, has been reluctant to start Babel, those words may have a hollow ring to them. However there is no doubting the manager’s delight that Babel is finally starting to consistently remind us of why Liverpool spent £11 million on him in 2007.
Playing through the middle has given Babel a new lease of life, a fact Hodgson acknowledged. “I have also accepted his claim that he prefers and is better playing centrally than being forced to play wide,” he said. “When Fernando was unable to play I had no hesitation in putting him in the team.”
Hodgson delight with Meireles.
The style with which Liverpool disposed of a bereft Aston Villa side has given Roy Hodgson reason to be optimistic about the Merseysiders immediate future. “We shot ourselves in the foot early doors and we’re still limping but the limp’s getting better,” Roy Hodgson told Sky Sports HD1 during the after match interview.
“We’re playing better every game and I think with the way the team was structured today, the shape of the team and the concentration was good throughout,” he praised. Hodgson was especially pleased with how his team coped without Fernando Torres, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard – delighting in the way Raul Meireles took responsibility in midfield in particular. “I always knew that in Meireles we had a top-class footballer and I’m pleased to see that he’s showing that week after week now,” he eulogised.