Raise your hand if you're satisfied with that result. If you raised your hand, go punch yourself in the face. Take nothing away from Villa, they came to play and Liverpool came not to play, at least in the first half. The result was probably a fair one on the run of play. However, at Anfield against a side that is a part of the bottom table scrap, this is nothing but disappointing from a Liverpool perspective. Couple this with the Hull loss and it truly feels like this side is looking too far ahead at times this season. It might be fair to say Villa is becoming a bit of a bogey team for Liverpool.
Villa jumped out to a 2-0 lead and a deserved one at that. Every pass and touch initially seemed to go awry for Liverpool to start. After a number of early close calls, Abonglahor raced down the wing and put in a cross in about 4 yards from goal. Stevie, who had been poor in his deeper role, got caught ball watching as Wiedmann slipped in behind him and slotted home. About 10 minutes later, Abonglahor again was the creator putting another cross in. Mignolet came off his line dove at the cross, getting just a touch to it. Unfortunately, that touch took the ball away from Glen Johnson and perfectly to Benteke who made no mistake about it.
It looked like it would be a long halftime and longer day, but in injury time and after some tidy passing, the ball found it's way to Henderson on the edge of the box. Henderson calmly flicked the ball behind himself and onto the run of Sturridge who slotted it home. Liverpool were lucky to go into the break only down 1, and came out a better side, though largely due to the substitution of Coutinho for Lucas. This pushed Gerrard higher into his more familiar role.
Liverpool created more chances in the second, but still looked quite vulnerable to the counter. However, it was Liverpool's counter that would be responsible for leveling the score line. After receiving the ball deep, Gerrard spotted the run of Suarez and slipped him a perfect pass taking Suarez into the box, but away from goal. Guzan decided to come out to challenge and may or may not of clipped Suarez. Regardless, he was on the floor and the referee was pointing to the spot. Gerrard made no mistake, calmly slotting the ball home just past the diving Guzan who had guessed right.
The game was still painful to watch as Liverpool really failed to click and flow in the way we've become accustomed to. The line up just didn't work and yet again Liverpool's defense was exposed. It was just a poor match from the Reds and a performance that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. As I've said a number of times, Liverpool's top four ambitions rely on winning the games they should win. This is yet another of those matches.
So where to Liverpool go from here? That remains to be seen. They have an FA Cup tie coming up against Bournemouth and then one of the most important Merseyside Derbys in decades. Losing that game may be the end of Liverpool's chances for the title and puts their top four ambition in real jeopardy.
Some more thoughts:
-Watching Cissokho going forward really makes you appreciate Jose Enrique.
-Liverpool's treatment room just got more crowded again. Lucas' injury could be a huge blow, but luckily Allen is back.
-Did Suarez dive? Yeah, probably. Does nearly every other striker in the EPL do the same thing in the same situation. Yeah, probably. Get over it people. I don't like the diving either, but don't be hypocrites just because it's Suarez.
-With Rodgers stating that he is expecting a quiet transfer window, can Liverpool really push on to top 4 with the current squad? Probably not. The defense it very suspect and the midfield play has left a lot to be desired in the last two matches.
-Given the above points, perhaps it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to give the 3-5-2 a shot again. However, I do not trust Skrtel in that formation.
-I'm glad the neutrals have enjoyed Liverpool's last couple matches, but I have not.
-Can Rodgers get this squad focused and back into form? This is a big test of his managerial skills after the last two matches and a Derby on the horizon.