It was tough to swallow yet another unsuccessful fixture versus Aston Villa as the Villans took all the points from the latest clash between the 2 sides.
Brenden Rodgers started like many other Liverpool managers have done in the past playing only a lone striker up front. It is a formation Liverpool fans have become very familiar with while following the almighty Reds, but also a set-up that has never produced the points.
For Balotelli, it was home debut day and he was up front on his own with the hearts and souls of Anfield expectant of a reformed Mario that would smash in a few goals to make his formal introduction to the Merseyside Reds. However, we didn’t get to see the magic of the Italian just yet as we can hardly judge him on his performance in this match due to his lone role up front not being enough to go on.
In fact, frustrations of Balotelli not getting goal and not being able make anything of majority possession at 71 minutes Rodgers made a rare double substitution. Both Borini and Lambert came on as the ninth minute goal from Aston Villa’s Agbonlahor was increasingly looking like it would be the match decider. As it happens, it was the decider as Liverpool embarrassingly managed just 1 shot on target in the entire 90 minutes despite boasting 75% possession and 18 attempts on goal.
It could be a sign of things to come for Liverpool as Rogers was clearly trying out a new way to play as rotating the squad this season is going to vitally important if Liverpool are to challenge in all 4 competitions this season.
What was clear is that losing a striker is not an option anymore. Earlier in the week Rodgers was not happy about how England handled Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool’s recovery program showed that Sturridge would not have been training on the day he picked up his thigh injury. Rogers did say that the communication between him and the England manager is good, but they would have to work on this more in the future to avoid similar incidents.
Despite whatever miscommunications there may have been between the England and Liverpool camps, this is surely a blessing in disguise – an early warning system for Liverpool. Had Sturridge or Balotelli been injured at a more critical point in season, Rodgers would only have discovered that the rotation system minus one of our star strikers doesn’t work.
Many were quick to point out the fact that our side needs to play with 2 strikers. The alternative would have been to start Sterling and get at Villa from the start and maybe bring on Lallana later on as he is just starting to find his place in the squad.
Either way this game will have taught Liverpool a valuable lesson and that is even at home we are not guaranteed the points.