How can I call a game that Liverpool clearly dominated “lucky”? Look at the stats, for one thing; Villa did not have a single shot on goal! The Reds had plenty of chances, and yet they barely won – it took a Salah (who else?) penalty to finally get it done – and could have easily tied or even lost the match.
The reason? Alisson had a seriously off day. Were I to award ratings to the players, I would have given him a nice, charitable “4”. Twice in the first half, and once in the second, he created remarkable opportunities for Gerard’s squad, which is where the luck comes into it, because on a different day, they would have capitalized at least once. Today they didn’t, and so Liverpool scampered back into the dressing room with all three points intact.
Momentum is an amazing thing in sports, and looking at the game today, you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t possibly imagine that this very same team has been averaging over three goals per game this season. The Reds should have buried at least four in Martinez’ net, in moves that only a couple of weeks ago would have been finished with aplomb. Instead, it looked like you could give the lads another 90 minutes and they still wouldn’t find the net in open play.
Speaking of Gerard, the Anfield hero put up a lineup and game plan that deeply frustrated his beloved Reds, and almost succeeded in stealing a point. He is showing he has serious chops in the Premier League now, and it is probably just a matter of time, once Klopp retires, before Stevie G stands in front of the proper dugout in this hallowed ground. In the meantime, we can only hope that the Villans become everybody else’s villain.
Beyond all that, and Van Dijk’s silly yellow early in the game, there isn’t too much to report about this one. Except, that is, the one player who stood head and shoulders above the rest, man-of-the-match Andy Robertson. He is playing Mr. Fantastic right now, and is perhaps as much of a driving force behind the team’s ability to continue to grind through this difficult period of the season as is the skipper. Today he constantly destroyed on his end and created on theirs, and without him, and with this kind of day for the dude in goal, the end result would have surely been quite different.
So cheers for Robbo, and cheers for another difficult win to stay up there in the league with the two blues. The Magpies are next, and then a real test away against Conte’s Spurs. Win both, and I suspect that the tip may change color.