Monday 21st January 2008 @ 8pm
Liverpool failed to take all three points in a game they should have buried early in the second half. The reds dominated the first 60 minutes, but like numerous other games this season failed to increase their 1-0 advantage and allowed their opponents back in to the game.
The reds have now drawn six times at Anfield, a statistic that is single handedly responsible for the reds failure to launch any kind of title challenge this season.
Tonight banners adorned the stadium, and songs were sung, highlighting the desire of most of Liverpool’s supporters to see the back of Hicks and Gillett – two men who not only have insulted the great traditions of our club by breaking their promises to the supporters but also now seemingly having an impact on the morale of the manager, coaching staff and players at the club.
All eyes were on the executive boxes where former Chairman David Moores sat next to forlorn Rick Parry, next to him were three empty seats, normally occupied by other board members representing the American duo who were notably absent.
It was Yossi Benayoun, one of 6 changes in the reds team, who toe-poked home in the 19th minute after some periods of excellent reds pressure. Liverpool controlled the rest of the first half, but came out in the second eager to complete the job. Dirk Kuyt missed a couple of simple chances before Torres crafted a fine shot which hit the top netting. The tension inside Anfield was building, and eventually the reds cracked.
Villa sent on Marlon Harewood who turned the game in their favour. Two set-pieces within three minutes turned the game on the head and sent Villa 2-1 up. The first, from a free kick, was headed back across goal before Harewood acrobatically over-head kicked it past Reina. The second was more typical of the reds luck, when from another set-piece Olaf Mellberg fired a shot which deflected off Fabio Aurelio’s back and wrong-footed Reina.
Rafa and the reds were disbelieving while Martin O’Neill and the Villa fans were celebrating. The reds onslaught continued after the 3 minutes of madness, and Benitez sent on Peter Crouch and Ryan Babel. With two minutes of normal time left Crouch connected with a pass from Carragher to ensure the reds did not suffer their third defeat of the Premiership season.
Miserable times for the reds off the pitch, but the poor luck/form on the pitch continues. The reds now lie 14 points off the pace and the wait for the title will go on for another season.
Post Match Reaction
“If you win and you play well then obviously everyone is a lot happier and things are a lot easier.
“But I really don’t have too much information, I just keep preparing for games and try to win every game.
“I am trying not to think about this.”
Steven Gerrard: (asked if the off pitch antics over the past week were affecting the players)
“It’s not just this week, it’s been going on for some time and it’s certainly not helping the players.
“I’ve got to be careful what I say, but it’s certainly not helping the team.”
“We know what’s going on, but as players you’ve got a job to do on the pitch and you try to put what’s going on off the pitch to the back of your mind.
“But sometimes it’s impossible, when it is every day.”
Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill on Harewood:
“I’m delighted for him, Marlon has had to wait patiently for his chance with others doing so well.
“He made a big difference when he came on and after we’ve gone ahead I’m a little disappointed we didn’t win it.
“The top three would be happy to get a point from Anfield and I think on the balance of play a draw is fair.”
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa (Skrtel 70), Carragher, Hyypia, Aurelio, Benayoun (Crouch 80), Mascherano, Gerrard, Kewell (Babel 74), Kuyt, Torres.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Alonso.
Booked: Arbeloa, Mascherano.
Goals: Benayoun 19, Crouch 88.
Aston Villa: Taylor, Mellberg, Laursen, Davies, Bouma, Gardner (Harewood 66), Petrov, Reo-Coker, Young, Carew (Knight 90), Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Sorensen, Cahill, Osbourne.
Booked: Laursen, Young.
Goals: Harewood 69, Aurelio 72 og.
Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).