Home Sport Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa: 5 talking points as Sadio Mane and Curtis...

Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa: 5 talking points as Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones lead Reds to victory

Liverpool claimed their first victory since being confirmed as Premier League champions, while Aston Villa’s survival hopes took another knock.

The Reds had been embarrassed by Manchester City at the start of their lap of honour last week, and looked on course for another red face on their return to Anfield.

But after 71 largely forgettable minutes, Sadio Mane crashed a winner off the underside of the crossbar.

Substitute Curtis Jones celebrated his new contract with a late doubler – his first Premier League goal.

The victory means that City’s record points tally of 100 from two seasons ago is still in sight for the Reds – with the three points taking them to 89 points.

On the other hand, Villa remained in the drop zone, still a point behind Watford just ahead of them, with massively in form Manchester United next up on Thursday.


Here are 5 talking points from Anfield…

1. Foot off the gas


The thrashing at the hands of Manchester City can be seen as a blip, or even a hangover.

Even then, though, the not terrible performance was masked by the scoreboard.

But on this occasion, the Reds looked a shadow of the side which claimed the title with seven matches to spare and were on course for a record points tally.

The three points painted over a workman-like performance.

Without Jordan Henderson in midfield there was a lack of energy, without Roberto Firmino the usual focal point had disappeared.

They certainly improved when both were introduced.

There is a worry that the season could drift – which could have a knock-on effect with a shortened gap between season.

Klopp will be hoping that they don’t follow the pattern of the 1982/83 season, where the Reds won the title but picked up just two points in the last seven matches.

2. Jack Grealish


Graeme Souness gave Jack Grealish a bit of a kicking in his punditry in the pre-show, much like many Premier League rival midfielders this season.

Souness suggested the ‘most fouled’ tag was a negative, meaning he holds the ball for too long and his vision isn’t up to scratch.

While we know the Scot likes to overexaggerate his points, the longer the game went on the more true they felt.

Grealish in undoubtedly the most talented player at Villa, and would certainly add something to United’s midfield if he was to sign for the Red Devils.

But his transition to defence and the amount of time he spends on the floor isn’t the qualities needed in a relegation-threatened side.

3. New strikers, please


Roberto Firmino is a top-quality striker – a forward in fitting with a Premier League champion.

Divock Origi, as the reserve striker, doesn’t quite fit that bill, albeit having his moments and remaining a solid attacker.

The Belgian is much better when utilised out wide – down the middle against Villa he was toothless at best.

If you look at say Manchester United in 1999 you’ll see Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjear.

Arsenal in 2004: Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Jose Antonio Reyes and Sylvain Wiltord.

Chelsea in 2005: Didier Drogba, Mateja Kezman and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Even with Manchester City in the last two years Gabriel Jesus was a more than adequate replacement for Sergio Aguero.

You get the point.

Klopp has built an impressive machine at Liverpool, but that lack of depth centrally upfront is a weak point.

Maybe that isn’t quite as important when you have Mane and Salah banging in goals from the wider areas.

4. Reina’s return


Anfield would have been jumping for the first appearance of their newly crowned champions in any ordinary situation.

But the most popular player inside the ground would likely not be Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah or even Jurgen Klopp

The biggest cheer when the team sheets would have been called out before kick-off would have been reserved for the Aston Villa keeper.

If one person deserved a crowd at Anfield, Pepe Reina would be that person.

The 37-year old is a cult hero in these parts for his 398 appearances in eight seasons and heroics in the 2006 FA Cup final.

Still it took Liverpool 37 minutes to test him, and even that was a tame Salah effort at his near post.

And couldn’t do much with Mane’s rocket opener.

5. Mane and Jones to the rescue


Sadio Mane likes Aston Villa.

The Senegal man has six in six in the league against the Villans.

When he was at Southampton he notched the Premier League’s quickest ever hat-trick.

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On this occasion, it was his 50th Anfield goal he was able to celebrate.

And what a day for Curtis Jones.

The Scouser starred in the FA Cup earlier in 2020 but this was the perfect way to celebrate a new long term contract.



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