Liverpool scored two goals in the first 16 minutes to heap misery on former boss Gerard Houllier’s Anfield return.
The reds made easy work of a poor Villa side who are in danger of being caught in a relegation battle.
Fernando Torres was not in the squad. His wife Olalla having gone in to labour with their second child. With Gerrard and Carragher both out injured, the doomsayers would have had it that Liverpool would be toothless. As it was, without the three men Liverpool looked bright and adventurous for portions of the game.
Pepe Reina grabbed his 100th clean sheet in the league, in a record 198 games – easily beating the records of Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar, two former goalkeeping heroes of Liverpool.
Ryan Babel and David Ngog partnered each other up front as the reds played 4-4-2. The formation appears more suited to Hodgson’s tactics of allowing opposition to dominate possession up to our 35 yard line, having a compact midfield and defence and hitting sides on counter attacks.
In the 14th minute Dirk Kuyt chased down the ball and won the reds a corner. Meireles, who has been far more effective than Gerrard at corners this season, sent a fine cross in. Skrtel headed the ball goal bound and up popped David Ngog to head the ball cleanly past former red Brad Friedel.
Within two minutes the reds had doubled the lead. Lucas laid through a perfectly weighted ball, for which Babel held off the challenge of another former red Stephen Warnock, and fired in to the opposite corner. Replays showed that Ryan was marginally offside but the goal stood.
The rest of the first half passed without major incident, although Kyrgiakos himself had a gilt edged chance to head in from another Liverpool set-piece.
A wasted Agbonlahor attempt saw the reds mount another quick counter attack. Lucas finding Rodriguez, who combined a one-two with Ngog, which led to Rodriguez smashing the ball in to the Kop goal in the 55th minute.
The game gradually petered out in the sub-zero Anfield temperatures. Aurelio, Cole and Kelly all came on as subs late on for Rodriguez, Ngog and Kyrgiakos.
The final minutes saw some more respect paid towards both Houllier and assistant Gary McAllister, as Liverpool fans dusted down the early 2000’s songbooks, a period that saw the reds win 6 trophies after the lacklustre 1990’s.
Back to the present day Liverpool. 16 games in to the league campaign and today’s scoreline finally puts the reds back in to positive goal difference territory (+1) and we move to 8th in the Premier League, 7 points behind 4th placed Manchester City.
Liverpool travel to Newcastle in their next Premier League game. Hopefully some of our home form can be transferred on to the pitch at St James’ Park.