Live Commentary: Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa - as it happened
Relive Aston Villa's shock 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield with Sports Mole's live text coverage, as Paul Lambert's side continued their unbeaten start.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 16:30 UK
Last Updated: Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 19:55 UK
Aston Villa continued their unbeaten start to the season with a shock 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield this afternoon.
Gabriel Agbonlahor got the only goal of the game after just nine minutes when he bundled a loose ball home after Liverpool had failed to clear a corner.
The Reds piled the pressure on in their search for an equaliser, with Philippe Coutinho hitting the post late on, but Villa held out to make it 10 points from a possible 12 at the start of the season.
You can read how the visitors extended their recent good record at Anfield courtesy of Sports Mole's live minute-by-minute coverage below.
4.30pmGood afternoon! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for today's late Premier League kickoff as Liverpool host Aston Villa at Anfield. Both sides have made strong starts to the season and will fancy their chances of picking up another positive result today. We have two counter-attacking teams on show this afternoon, so we should be in for an entertaining clash on Merseyside. Let's start with a look at the hosts...
4.32pmLiverpool have had a rather mixed start to the campaign, but started to show glimpses of last season's form in their most recent outing. Tottenham were simply outclassed and swept aside at White Hart Lane as Liverpool ran out 3-0 victors, and it could have been more for Brendan Rodgers's side. He will certainly want more of the same this evening in their first home match since the opening weekend of the season.
4.34pmThat opening weekend saw the Reds clinch a 2-1 victory over Southampton, although the Saints can feel hard done by not to have got anything out of the match. They hit the bar late on and squandered a couple of other good chances as Daniel Sturridge netted a late winner for the hosts. Liverpool followed that up with an early-season trip to champions Manchester City, but they struggled to get into their stride and were deservedly beaten at the Etihad. The response against Spurs, though, is exactly what Rodgers would have wanted from his players.
4.36pmAfter two consecutive tricky away games, Rodgers will be happy to be back at Anfield this afternoon as he looks to rediscover the home form from the last campaign. Only champions City amassed more points in front of their own fans than Liverpool's 49 in 2013-14, while only three teams managed to take points off the Reds at Anfield all season. They have lost just one of their last 18 competitive home games, winning 16 and drawing one which, incidentally, came against Aston Villa.
4.38pmThe summer departure of Luis Suarez is likely to be brought up a lot for Liverpool this season, and with Sturridge out through injury for the immediate future, it will be down to Balotelli and co to replicate the goalscoring form that almost fired the Reds to the title last season. They netted a staggering 101 times on their way to second place, becoming the first side in the Premier League era to break the century mark and not win the title.
4.40pmIt was at the back where the problems lay for Liverpool last season, and Rodgers will be hoping that the 3-0 win over Spurs last time out is the first step on the way to addressing those problems. That result saw the Reds pick up their first clean sheet in their last nine matches, and they will need to vastly improve that regularity if they are to challenge the likes of Chelsea and Man City for the title this season.
4.42pmIt is the pace of Liverpool's attack that causes most problems for the opposition, with Sterling and co deadly on the counter-attack. That allows them to hurt teams even when they don't see a lot of the ball. In their win over Spurs, the Reds had just 39.5% possession, yet still cruised to a comfortable victory. They only had one possession statistic lower than that all last season, and that came in the 4-0 victory over Everton at Anfield.
4.44pmOne of the big question marks over Liverpool this season will be how they cope with the added responsibilities of the Champions League. They return to action in Europe's premier club competition for the first time since 2009 when they face Ludogorets on Tuesday night, and they have a very busy period coming up. Brendan Rodgers's side face seven matches in the next 21 days.
4.46pmThere is no such fixture pile-up for Villa, who only have to worry about the league until the FA Cup rolls around in January. That is likely to help them as they are expected to struggle this season, although the start they have made to the campaign has so far made a mockery of the pre-season predictions. Paul Lambert's men sit in the top three going into this weekend having remained unbeaten in the league so far.
4.48pmIt hasn't exactly been thrill-a-minute stuff from Villa, but it has certainly been effective. A 1-0 win away to Stoke was a superb way to start the campaign, and a goalless draw against Newcastle was not a bad way to follow it up either. They beat Hull 2-1 in their last outing to make it seven points from their opening three games, but it is fair to say that this is by far their biggest test of the season so far.
4.50pmThis match also kicks off a period of fixtures that is just about as hard as it comes for a team in Villa's position. In order, Lambert's side face Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton in their next four matches, meaning that they will play against all of last season's top five teams consecutively. If they are still in the top three after that, then they'd really be shouting from the rooftops.
4.52pmThey will go into that run full of confidence, however, having conceded just one goal so far this season - the best record in the league due to Swansea conceding four against Chelsea this afternoon. Villa's current three-match unbeaten streak is also their best since November-December 2013, when they went five matches without losing, winning two and drawing three. The fact that they still have Benteke to return to fitness will also give Lambert plenty of beluef that his side will be fine this season.
4.54pmThey will be particularly confident going in to this one given their recent record at Anfield. Not many teams can boast a good record here, but Villa have been Liverpool's bogey team of late and have not lost in front of the Kop since December 2010. Extending that, they have lost just one of their last five trips to Anfield, while Paul Lambert has never lost here as a manager.
4.56pmAnother victory this afternoon would see them match their start to the 1998-99 season, when they amassed 10 points from their first four games. They actually topped the table at Christmas that year before slipping down to sixth in the end. They are the only Premier League team this season to have picked up more points (seven) than they have had shots on target (five), and while on the face of it that looks like a statistic Lambert won;t be too worried about, it hints that they still lack a cutting edge in the final third.
4.58pmThat is a point reinforced by the fact that they have only scored three times in their opening three matches. Andreas Weimann has been on good form so far this season, while Agbonlahor can always prove to be something of a handful with his pace, but they are missing the injured Benteke, while Kozak is also out. Benteke himself has scored four goals in as many appearances against Liverpool, but they will not have the big Belgian at their disposal this afternoon.
5pmTEAM NEWS: The teams are out for both sides, and there is quite a bit of notable news from the Liverpool camp. Balotelli makes his home debut, while Adam Lallana is also named in the starting lineup and will make his competitive bow for his new club. Coutinho and Markovic come into the starting XI, the latter of whom also makes his home debut, as does Alberto Moreno in defence. Villa, meanwhile, hand a debut to loan signing Tom Cleverley in midfield, but there is no place for Ron Vlaar due to a calf problem. Full teams for both sides coming right up...
5.04pmASTON VILLA SUBS: Okore, Bacuna, Bent, Sanchez, N'Zogbia, Given, Grealish
5.06pmWhat can we make of those two teams, then? Well, there are plenty of talking points to get through with the hosts as Rodgers has named a new-look side. Only five of the starting XI were at Anfield last season, with six summer additions included. The most notable of them is, of course, Balotelli, who leads the line in Sturridge's absence. He made a bright start to his Liverpool career against Spurs last time out but probably should have scored, so he will be looking to add the finishing touch to his display this time around.
5.08pmBehind the Italian, there is a competitive Liverpool debut for Adam Lallana after he was ruled out of the first three games with an injury. He will be looking to impress for his new side having played his way into the England set-up while at Southampton, and he is expected to operate on the flank side of the three behind the striker. Markovic was another summer recruit and gets a chance to impress from the start this afternoon, while Coutinho lost his place for the last match and will be looking to prove a point here. Sterling, meanwhile, is left on the bench following his England exploits.
5.10pmGerrard, as ever, will hold in midfield and allow the full-backs to bomb forward, and he is joined in the deeper role by Henderson this afternoon. It is a slightly different position for Henderson, who usually operates a little further forward with Allen or Lucas alongside Gerrard, but the English duo will act as the pivot for the Reds this afternoon. Gerrard tens to enjoy playing against Villa have scored 13 goals against them in his career - four more than he has managed against any other club.
5.12pmSkrtel, Johnson and Flanagan all remain sidelined for Liverpool, giving the backline a new feel to it. Moreno made a shaky start to his Liverpool career with the mistake against Man City but has since bounced back and scored a superb solo effort against Spurs last time out. Question marks remain over Sakho on the ball, but Lovren has started his Liverpool career fairly well and will look to continue that today.
5.14pmVilla will be hoping that the pace in their attack can cause Liverpool's defence problems, and the likes of Agbonlahor and Weimann are certainly capable of hitting teams on the break. The former should be going into this game on a high having signed a new contract with the club recently, while Weimann has been directly involved in all three of his side's goals this season, scoring two and setting up the other.
5.16pmIn midfield, there is a debut for Cleverley, who joined the club in a late, late loan move after the transfer window had officially shut. His arrival was met with mixed emotions from fans, but he will be eager to prove a point having received plenty of criticism in recent times and lost his place in the England set-up. Speaking of England, their newest full debutant Fabian Delph impressed on international duty in midweek, and he will be looking to take that form into today's match.
5.18pmConspicuous by his absence in defence is Ron Vlaar, who remains sidelined through injury for this match. That is a huge blow for the visitors, but Senderos has impressed so far in what has been a solid Villa backline. Liverpool fans will not need reminded about another newcomer in the Villa defence, with Aly Cissokho spending a spell on loan at Anfield last season. He is not the most comfortable on the ball, and that is something the hosts will look to take advantage of this afternoon.
5.20pmPREDICTION: Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff at Anfield, which means that it is time for my match prediction. Villa have a very good record at Anfield recently and have impressed during the early stages of this season, but without Vlaar they may lack the defensive solidity to keep Liverpool at bay. A lot depends on how Liverpool's six summer signings gel today, but they should have enough to find a way past the visitors. The Spurs win should have given the hosts confidence, and I'm going to go for a comfortable 3-0 win for Liverpool.
5.22pmAs ever, the Sports Mole sofa has had their say on this match, with relatively comfortable Liverpool wins predicted all round. Have a look at our preview of the match here:
5.24pmAs mentioned earlier, Villa were one of just three teams to take points off Liverpool at Anfield in the league last season, drawing 2-2. It could have been even better for Paul Lambert's side as Weimann and Benteke gave the visitors a two-goal lead, but Sturridge and Gerrard both found the net to rescue a point for the eventual runners-up.
5.26pmThe home side has not won this fixture in any of the last six meetings, be it at Anfield or Villa Park. It would be a big shock if that run was to extend to seven this afternoon, but after their start to the season Villa will certainly feel that they are capable of doing it. Liverpool, meanwhile, need to show that they can back up a good win against Spurs with a result in a match they enter as heavy favourites.
5.28pmOverall, these two side have faced off 186 times, with Liverpool winning 91 and losing 55. The Reds have won 61% of their home matches against Villa, but haven't beaten them in any of their last three. With Chelsea extending their 100% record earlier this afternoon, the three points this evening have become even more important for the Reds.
1 minKICKOFF: Aston Villa get us underway as they look to continue their recent reputation as Liverpool's bogey team. Can they grab another shock result in front of the Kop?
2 minAlmost an early gift for Villa as Moreno's mistake allows Hutton in down the right. The full-back plays a very dangerous low ball into the box, but Lovren is well-placed to make a very good clearance from inside his own six-yard box.
3 minSHOT! That would have been some way to introduce yourself to the home crowd. Moreno is causing Hutton problems at the other end this time, Cutting back before floating a cross to Markovic at the back post. The home debutant has no thoughts to take the ball down, instead attempting an ambitious volley that flies over the top.
5 minThis has been a good start from Villa, who have forced a couple of early corners and played a few decent balls into the Liverpool area. There is a confidence about the visitors as a result of their good start to the season.
6 minCHANCE! Early chance for Liverpool to break the deadlock, and it is Markovic again who has the effort. The winger flicked the ball on to Maquillo before moving into the box for the return cross. He gets his head on the end of that one two, but glances his effort wide with Balotelli arriving behind him.
8 minLiverpool are starting to see more of the ball now as they look to ease themselves into the game. They've created the best openings early on, but Villa still look quite dangerous.
9 minGOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa (Gabriel Agbonlahor)
9 minVilla take the lead at Anfield once again! Agbonlahor breaks the deadlock inside 10 minutes as Senderos overpowers Lovren to win an initial header from a corner. His connection is poor, but the ball drops kindly for Agbonlahor, who just pokes it into the bottom corner. It is one of the messiest goals you will see this season, but Villa will not care one bit.
11 minLiverpool look to respond immediately with a corner of their own, but they can't hit back as Sakho's header is tame and straight into the arms of Guzan.
12 minYELLOW CARD! An early card for Lallana on his debut as he arrives late to catch Cleverley. There was no malicious intent behind the challenge, but it was a poor one and he can have no complaints at being booked.
13 minCHANCE! Glorious chance for Villa to double their lead! Senderos peels away from his man for the second time today, and this time he is left completely unmarked to get his head to the ball from a deep free kick. He should at least get his effort on target, but he miscues his effort and puts it well off target. Mignolet is furious at his defenders, and rightly so.
15 minBalotelli gets on the ball for the first time today and slides a pass to Coutinho, but the Brazilian's through-ball towards Markovic is far too heavy. Big things were expected of Coutinho this season, but so far he has failed to deliver.
16 minCHANCE! Another big chance for Villa following some more shambolic defending from a set piece. Lovren gets his head to the initial delivery right in front of Mignolet, and the ball drops to Weimann just inside the box. He doesn't catch his shot right, but Gerrard is taking no risks and nods it behind for another corner.
21 minBalotelli goes down off the ball after a clash with Senderos, and the replays show that it was a naughty little trip from the defender to halt the Italian. If the ref had seen that, Senderos could have been in trouble.
23 minGood spell of possession for Liverpool inside the Villa half as they begin to take a element of control over the match. They have been second best so far and are lucky to only be one goal down, but right now they are camped in the Villa half.
25 minMoreno slides a quick pass in to Lallana, who flicks it beyond Hutton and moves into the box before going down. He doesn't appeal for a penalty, but the home fans do. The referee is right to give it no thought, although Hutton is asking whether there should be a second yellow card for a dive.
27 minThis has been better from Liverpool in the last few minutes, and they are looking quite comfortable at the moment. However, they are struggling to get in behind the visitors at the moment, who are holding firm so far.
29 minThere is an interesting little battle between Senderos and Balotelli developing, with the Villa defender having a few little nibbles at the Italian. Balotelli has a notoriously short fuse, and it is clear that Senderos is trying to antagonise him.
31 minLiverpool have had 64% possession in the last 10 minutes, which is a vast improvement on just 45% in the opening 15 minutes. Villa can't get out of their own half right now, and they appear to be parking the bus very early on here. They are always threatening on the break, however, and that is something Liverpool will need to be very wary of.
32 minLovely football from Liverpool as they worked it out to the right flank before the ball is chipped through into the box. Henderson glances a header down to Lallana, but his effort is blocked by Senderos.
34 minBalotelli is again left in a heap on the floor, this time at the hands of Hutton. The right-back got the ball as the Italian looked to squeeze it past him, but he did go in high and catch the Liverpool striker too. The Villa defence certainly aren't giving him an easy time here.
36 minThe pressure continues to build as Liverpool dominate possession, but still the hosts can't find a way through here. Villa are leaving almost everyone behind the ball and are hanging on right now. They look desperate to get to the break with their lead intact.
38 minCHANCE! Villa are really causing problems from corners today. The latest sees Hutton flick the ball on for Senderos, who can't turn it on target from close range. The Villa defender has been a real handful in the opposition box today.
40 minLiverpool's attack just seems to lack a bit of pace at the moment, with Sterling and Sturridge both missing. I can't imagine it will be too long before we see the former if it carries on like this after the break.
42 minVilla made a really bright start to this match and should probably be more than a single goal up right now, but they have not shown any attacking intent since the 20th minute here.
43 minCLOSE! Liverpool's best moment of the half sees Lallana pick the ball up on the edge of the box and fire a crisp strike just past the post. Guzan was worried and may not have got there had it been just inside the post.
45 minCLOSE! Balotelli looks to provide a spark of magic for his side as he picks the ball up on the left. He cuts inside and goes for an ambitious strike from the corner of the box, but his shot takes a deflection off Weimann and dips just past the post.
45+1 minThere will be just the one minute of added time at the end of this first half.
45+1 minCHANCE! Sensational defending from Baker as he denies Liverpool a great chance right at the end of the half. A deflected pass sent Moreno through on goal, but instead of going for goal like he did against Spurs, he looked for Markovic at the back post. However, Baker came sliding in and made a superb interception to prevent a certain goal.
6.24pmThe referee brings an end to the opening 45 minutes, and it is Villa who once again go into the break with a lead at Anfield. They started the match very brightly and took the lead inside 10 minutes, and they could have added to that advantage since. Liverpool slowly grew into the game and were in control for the final 25 minutes or so without creating much.
6.26pmIt was Agbonlahor who got the goal for the visitors, poking home after the Reds had failed to clear a corner. It was a very messy goal, trickling over the line, but it came as a result of strong play from Senderos, who has been dominant at both ends of the field so far today.
6.28pmIndeed, the Swiss defender should have doubled his side's advantage in the 13th minute when he was left completely unmarked from a free kick having spun away from the defence. He had a clear shot at goal, but miscued his header and failed to work the keeper when he really should have scored.
6.30pmSenderos has been a real handful for his side at set pieces, causing Liverpool all sorts of problems from corners. The Reds don't seem to be able to deal with the visitors there, and that looks to be Villa's route to success in this match. Senderos has also had an impact at the back, nibbling away at Balotelli a few times to keep the Italian quiet.
6.32pmLiverpool haven't been able to create much in an attacking sense, with Villa adopting very defensive tactics following their bright start. They need more creativity and pace in the final third, and Sterling may not be long from an introduction.
46 minKICKOFF: Liverpool get us back underway for the second half as they look to bounce back from a disappointing first half and come from behind to claim another three points. Villa, meanwhile, will be looking to continue their good work from that opening 45 minutes.
48 minGood start to the second half from Liverpool as they knock the ball about nicely before Markovic plays a pass to Coutinho around 20 yards from goal. His effort is deflected over, and from the resulting corner Balotelli nods wide.
50 minThe hosts are starting to inject more pace into their attack now as they continue to pile the pressure on Villa. This match has picked up exactly where it left off in the first half, with Villa camped in their own half and unable to get out.
51 minCoutinho tries to thread a pass through to Moreno, but Senderos gets a vital touch to ensure it goes behind for a corner. Gerrard whips the subsequent delivery towards the near post, but Henderson gets too much on his header and sends it off target.
53 minLiverpool are in complete control of this match, but they still can't find a way through this Villa defence. The visitors have set out their stall early to defend their lead here, but that could be a risky ploy with so long left to go.
55 minBright play from Lallana as he picks the ball up on the left flank and twists and turns into space. His eventual cross is once again put behind for a corner, however, as Villa continue to crowd out the middle of the park.
57 minThe hosts have had 77% possession in this second half, but they haven't been able to do anything with it so far. Guzan has not yet been tested as those in front of him refuse to let the Reds through.
59 minBalotelli finally gets the chance to take the ball down inside the box, but he is robbed of a chance by the linesman's flag after the ball had gone out on the far side. He and Senderos clash again, and that is a battle that has been bubbling under the surface all game. Both players laugh it off on this occasion, but certainly worth keeping an eye on.
61 minLIVERPOOL SUB: Here comes the cavalry for Liverpool as Raheem Sterling replaces debutant Adam Lallana. Can the youngster change this game for the hosts? They need a spark from somewhere.
63 minYELLOW CARD! Hutton looks to make an early mark on Sterling as he flies into a challenge on Sterling. He didn't get the ball and really clattered into the sub, but the ref deems a yellow worthy punishment for the Scot.
65 minVilla have worked incredibly hard off the ball in this match, and nobody more so than Agbonlahor. The goalscorer has led from the front, closing Gerrard down every time the Liverpool skipper has been on the ball and putting all of the defence under heavy pressure.
66 minSterling has certainly made a difference since coming on, and he tries to add a goal to his contribution here having skipped past the first man. However, his effort from range is also going high and wide as Guzan remains untroubled.
68 minCoutinho has found more space since the introduction of Sterling, and that is giving Liverpool another useful weapon in the final third. He has had a couple of blocked shots in the last couple of minutes, but still the Villa defence holds firm.
70 minGood chance for Liverpool to break as, for once, there is space behind the Villa defence. Sterling tries to exploit it with a pass through for Henderson, but he puts too much on it and it rolls all the way through for Guzan.
71 minLIVERPOOL SUB: The hosts make a double change with 20 minutes remaining, and they are both attacking once. Off come Balotelli and Markovic and on go Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini.
72 minASTON VILLA SUB: Villa make a change of their own as Andreas Weimann is replaced by Charles N'Zogbia.
74 minThe hosts have just 16 minutes plus any added time to turn this match around here, and they will need to come up with something different to what they have managed so far. Guzan has had an easy time of it in goal despite Liverpool's possession and dominance.
75 minGuzan is furious at Lovren after the defender competed for a high ball with the keeper. The Liverpool defender knew what he was doing there, but it wasn't a dangerous challenge and the ref is right not to call him back for a yellow card.
76 minYELLOW CARD! Moreno becomes the latest player in the book for a foul on Richardson as he tried to reach the ball before the Villa man.
77 minHalf a chance for Liverpool as Cissokho's header diverts the ball into the path of Sterling, but the sub just can't get it under his spell and it runs through to Guzan. It is starting to feel like it will take a Villa mistake for Liverpool to find a way through here.
79 minLiverpool have not threatened as much from set pieces as Villa have this evening, and that is evident again here as Lovren reaches a Coutinho corner but can only glance an effort wide.
81 minOFF THE POST! Liverpool are inches away from equalising with nine minutes remaining! Coutinho cut inside and outside to create space to shoot from the edge of the box before curling a fine effort towards the far corner. However, with Guzan watching on helplessly, it smashes off the post and comes back out to Sterling, whose rebound hits Henderson.
83 minThat is by far Liverpool's best moment of the match, and it should give them a little confidence that they can find a way through this stubborn Villa defence in the dying stages.
84 minThe ball breaks to Lambert on the edge of the box and he has a little space, but the ball gets caught under his feet and he can't bring it under his spell. Good opening gone begging for the hosts there, who are six minutes away from falling to another defeat at the hands of Aston Villa at Anfield.
86 minASTON VILLA SUB: Another change for Villa late on as Cleverley makes way for Carlos Sanchez. It has been a good debut for the United loanee, albeit largely due to work off the ball.
88 minVilla have the ball at the right end of the field as far as they are concerned right now. They have not posed any sort of attacking threat since around the 20th minute, but you have to admire how well they have defended in this match. It hasn't been pretty, but it has worked for the visitors.
89 minCoutinho has looked most likely for Liverpool in this second half, but this is not one of his better efforts as he fires a long-range effort well over the top. Time really is running out for the hosts here.
90 minASTON VILLA SUB: Agbonlahor makes way after a superb performance that could have seen him score the winning goal. Darren Bent replaces him up front.
90+1 minLiverpool have four minutes of added time to try to turn this match around.
90+3 minStill the Villa defence hold firm in the closing stages of this match, and Liverpool now just have one minute to get an equaliser and avoid a shock home defeat.
7.26pmAston Villa's hoodoo over Liverpool continues as they pick up a shock 1-0 victory at Anfield in a match that saw them begin well before sitting back on their lead. They defended very stubbornly throughout and limited Liverpool to just one shot on target, although the hosts did hit the post with just under 10 minutes remaining.
7.28pmThe goal came from Gabriel Agbonlahor as he poked the ball into the bottom corner after Liverpool had failed to clear a corner. It was a very messy goal, but it came as a result of Villa's dominance at set pieces, with was a theme of the opening 20 minutes that had a huge impact on the match. They opted not to stay on the front foot and push for a second goal, instead sitting back to defend their lead, which they did with aplomb.
7.30pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for this late kickoff as Villa stun Liverpool with a 1-0 victory at Anfield, maintaining their fine unbeaten start to the season. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction, analysis and player ratings. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!