Dave Woodhall watches Villa lose to Liverpool.
Villa playing Liverpool is big enough without the sideshows that would inevitably accompany the match. Our manager and loan superstar against their old club, Liverpool still chasing four trophies. It was a headline writer’s dream.
Now, grumpier old man that I’m becoming with every passing day, there are a lot of things I don’t like about modern football. Sky messing around with the kick-offs, tourists taking what I believe are called ‘selfies’ outside the ground, half & half scarves, loud music outside the ground, loud music inside the ground, selfie-taking people in half & half scarves clapping along to loud music, orchestrated team entrances, players with squad numbers in the sixties and I could go on.
Then the match starts and none of that matters because the Villa are playing, they’re on top and before too long we’re a goal up thanks to Douglas Luiz picking up a loose ball after his initial shot was pushed away.
Unfortunately one saying from the glory days of proper football was that Liverpool are most dangerous when they’ve just conceded, and in the past was where that one should have stayed. A defensive cock-up levelled the scores with the Red Machine (what did I say about those headlines?) poised to dominate from then on.
They didn’t exactly do that but they were on top for a long while after the equaliser, but Villa dragged themselves back into the game and one-one at the break was fair enough. Marvelous Nakamba, in for Calum Chambers, was showing what an improvement some physical presence makes to the midfield and also proving that it would be even better if he could help his teammates as well as he can hinder the opposition.
Liverpool started the second half on top, and at times were spreading the ball round with ease. They were helped in this by their secrete weapon, referee Jon Moss, in what will, please God, be his final appearance at Villa Park. Then again, Villa were their own second-worst enemies in this regard because while Moss was only too willing to give fouls to the visitors, time and again we provided the excuse for him to give them.
Nakamba was replaced on the hour by Carney Chukwuemeka, who seemed to take a few minutes to get up to speed and in that time Liverpool scored the winner. Not that it was his fault, nor for that matter anyone else’s, because the goal was, even though it grieves me to say it, a bit good.
You might have thought that was it but the goal seemed to inspire Villa, who had their best period of the game after conceding, with Chukwuemeka again showing great promise. Coutinho, who seemed to be trying too hard at times against his old club, was replaced by Emilian Buendia, Bertrand Traore came on for Ollie Watkins and Villa could easily have got at least a point.
Danny Ings missed a couple of good chances then had a goal disallowed for offside, which summed up the night. Liverpool made the most of the time they were on top, Villa didn’t. We played very well at times and almost matched one of the top teams in Europe and in the end the biggest difference was the quality of the players they could bring on, which is another aspect of modern football we’ve suffered from far too often.
We’ve got two more home games, Crystal Palace and Burnley. No point in half & half scarves for them.