Liverpool Live Blog: Efficient, High-Energy Reds Dominate Gerard Houllier’s Villa Side

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Liverpool Live Blog: Efficient, High-Energy Reds Dominate Gerard Houllier's Villa Side

Full Time, Liverpool 3-0: Villa put some pressure on in the box, but Carew is unable to get control of the ball in.  Liverpool counter thereafter, but Ngog's back heel is intercepted. Liverpool maintain the pressure for a while thereafter, but Villa eventually win the ball for a final push. Downing takes the ball down the right and cuts in all the way across the top of the box and rips a shot — high and wide. Whistle blows.

90', Liverpool 3-0: A counter attack with Ngog and Johnson storms through the entire Villa defense. Ngog gives to Johnson, who gives it back to Ngog just a few yards from goal, but Ngog's touch is slightly off — would have been an amazing goal.

87', Liverpool 3-0: Babel makes a long run down the right — toying with the defenders. He wins a foul at the top of the final third. Aurelio's piece is cleared, and Villa go forward slowly. Eventually, Ireland crosses from the right — directly to Reina.

84', Liverpool 3-0: Kelly on for Kyrgiakos. Liverpool go forward dangerously on a counter, but Babel's layoff to Cole wide results in a low cross in to no avail. After the substitution, the ball falls for a Meireles shot from above the box — which is on target but stopped by Friedel relatively easily. Delfounseo makes a play in the other direction and finds Carew, but his shot from the corner of the box is blocked.

81', Liverpool 3-0: Babel wins a corner on a quick attack forward. Joe Cole comes on for Kuyt. The corner almost falls to Johnson, but nothing comes of it. Thereafter, Liverpool control it in the corner, but Johnson misplays it to give a goal kick. Villa control the ball — but show no ambition — 10 minutes of garbage time.

78', Liverpool 3-0: The pace of the game has opened somewhat as the teams go back and forth from box to box, but nothing promising emergest on either end.

75', Liverpool 3-0: Ngog and Rodriguez combine well up the left, and Ngog lays in a dangerous cross in that is half-cleared by Villa. Kuyt wins a corner off Ireland. Meireles' corner reaches Kyrgiakos, who heads it down far post, but is saved off the line by Hogg. The attack continues, but peters out with a missed volley by Skrtel. Maxi off for Aurelio.

72', Liverpool 3-0: Downing makes a great run down the right and lays it off to Luke Young for a cross, but Liverpool clear it back to the Villa defense. Johnson has another challenge after Maxi sent it to him in space on a counter attack. Johson goes near post, but hits it way high — could have done better.

69', Liverpool 3-0: Longballs are exchanged before Glen Johnson receives a long cross off a free kick from midfield. He slashes in from the right, beating three defenders and putting it on net. Friedel saves for a corner, but great effort. The corner is cleared for a midfield throw by Villa. A long ball is sent for Babel, but he handballs it blatantly.

66', Liverpool 3-0: Albrighton off for Pires. Carew on for Agbonlahor — size and experience on pace on both counts. Downing sends a cross/shot in with Carew right in the area, but the Norwegian avoids it and Reina collects. Another Villa attack develops up the left, but Delfounseo's cross in misses past the far post.

63', Liverpool 3-0: Liverpool are finally sitting back somewhat now — letting Villa take the front foot. Still, Houllier's new side is struggling to find a final ball, as the crosses continue to fall to Reina despite more space and numbers forward.

60', Liverpool 3-0: Villa get a corner off a Downing cross cleared by Skrtel. The corner is dealt with easily by Liverpool. and the teams trade in midfield before Lucas fouls Delfounseo. Villa maintain possession for a spell, and Hogg finds Downing in space above the center of the box. He takes the shot low, but he misses well wide.

57', Liverpool 3-0: Downing set piece is a too-high cross that goes right to Reina. Villa go forward again, and Downing crosses to Reina again — this time from the left. Reina gets it out quickly for the counter. Ngog runs up the left and finds Maxi Rodriguez trailing in the box. He beats Friedel far post. Goal. Maxi. 3-0.

54', Liverpool 2-0: Delfounseo wins a throw deep to the left which was switched all the way to Albrighton on the right. He finds a way to get a cross in, but Reina is the only one there. On their next attack, things open up for Villa. Downing is found in space on the left by Ireland. He centers to an open Abgonlahor, who is stopped by Reina — should have scored.

51', Liverpool 2-0: Agbonlahor beats the defenders down the right and wins a cross in, but nobody is at the far post for his delivery — good run. Liverpool go forward up the right themselves, but a Kyrgiakos long ball leads to a clearance and a turnover for Liverpool, and the teams trade possession. Villa eventually win the ball at the back as Luke Young is fouled by Ngog.

48', Liverpool 2-0: Delfounseo on for Clark — positive change. Villa begin the half with a decent run forward for Albrighton from Delfounseo — a little more lively stuff. Liverpool counter, but a poor final ball to Konchesky on the left of the area goes for goal kick. Villa send a longball forward, which Delfounseo wins, but he has zero support.

Halftime Analysis: Roy Hodgson couldn't have asked for much more in the first half — with the team dominating in defense and getting goals from both embattled young strikers.

Liverpool's control of the center of the pitch has totally defined the contest. Liverpool have possessed the ball at will, and forced Villa turnovers with ease.

The match began with a flurry of Liverpool opportunity, followed by the same from Villa, then a lull, and then a half hour of pure dominance.

Stephen Ireland has been sending longballs for the pacy but undersized Gabriel Abgonhalor — not the wisest of moves — and Hogg and Clark have equally had no influence in midfield. Downing has been creative — clearly Villa's best player — while surprise inclusion Albrighton has been mistake prone. Much of this can be attributed to the stellar play of Lucas and Meireles, who also can take credit for creating the two Liverpool goals.

Still, Babel and Ngog do deserve credit for their clinical finishes on what were the team's only two real chances thus far. If Liverpool had a weakness, it was that they lacked final balls and really had no other opportunities to score despite their dominance.

For Villa, much will have to change for them to get any points.

Halftime, Liverpool 2-0: The final minutes of the half emulate the previous 20. Liverpool have the better part of the possession, which is casual but dangerous, and Villa turn the ball over on long balls out of their own half when they are given a chance. Halftime.

44', Liverpool 2-0: Villa look like they may have a counterattack with Albrighton and Abgonlahor, but they hold it up when Liverpool get numbers back. Thereafter, they are again stifled — Liverpool have completely owned the center of the pitch.

41', Liverpool 2-0: Albrighton has switched over to the left side. Liverpool continue to be dangerous — particularly up the right with Kuyt and Babel. Villa send a hopeful longball for a goal kick — and then do it again just seconds later. Pretty cynical play from Villa.

38', Liverpool 2-0: A good ball in finds Babel in space at the top of the box, but his one touch shot goes past the right post — pretty well struck. Clark, who is late challenging Lucas, gets a yellow. He'll miss his next match.

35', Liverpool 2-0: Liverpool pass perfectly all the way from Konchesky in the deep left corner to Babel up on the right. Babel's run into box eventually goes for a throw on the side — which is then converted to another throw. Eventually, it peters out as Babel misses a pass. Villa build from their defense — Liverpool again win the ball before Villa make any incursion. Liverpool sets up a dangerous attack with numbers forward thereafter.

32', Liverpool 2-0: Liverpool look incredibly comfortable with the ball — not sitting on it, but taking their time building up and spacing well. Villa, on the other hand, look overwhelmed and cannot keep the ball. Reds go forward down the right, and a series of balls lead to Kuyt being in space on the right of the box. Villa desperately clears. Liverpool try again in the same area, but it goes for a goal kick.

29', Liverpool 2-0: Meireles' free kick finds Kyrgiakos alone at the far post, and the big Greek misses the free header — though it wasn't that close in. In the other direction, Downing picks out Abgonlahor, but the striker fouls Skrtel on the chase. The teams exchange in midfield before Villa win the chance to build. They find few holes in midfield through which to attack.

26', Liverpool 2-0: Liverpool pass it around on the right in Villa's half, but it eventually bounces to the away side. They are rebuffed on their first incursion forward, but after a clear, Villa set up forward. A failed pass to Abgonlahor leads to a Liverpool counter, but Ngog aborts the venture forward. Eventually, Albrighton needlessly fouls Ngog on the right of the box.

23', Liverpool 2-0: Liverpool again build at a relaxed pace. Konchesky almost finds Ngog in the box, but Villa clear, and Abgonlahor holds it up. Eventually, Albrighton wins a corner. The corner is well taken — free to Collins, but Collins mishits it. The Villa defender appeals for a push as the reasons for his miss.

20', Liverpool 2-0: After a spell of relaxed Liverpool possession, Villa attack up the left with Ireland and Downing. Downing's cross is covered by Johnson for a corner.  The corner is poorly taken, and Villa have to rebuild.

17', Liverpool 2-0: Villa possesses off the kickoff before turning it over in midfield. Lucas sends a ball over the top for Ryan Babel — who may or may not have been offside. Babel takes a shot on the first touch from the top right of the area and beats Friedel at the far post. Goal. Babel. 2-0 Liverpool.

15', Liverpool 1-0: The teams trade possession in midfield — the game having a minor lull after each team was somewhat dangerous. Eventually, Warnock turns it over and has to concede a corner to Kuyt. It is an outswinger, and Skrtel heads it from the top of the box towards the near post, where Ngog gets on the end of it and beats Friedel. Goal. Ngog. 1-0 Liverpool. His 8th.

12', 0-0: Albrighton presses on Konchesky, who eventually gets it safely to Reina. The teams exchange in midfield, and Villa go forward — and maintain possession at length without being dangerous. Eventually, it goes for a goal kick.

9', 0-0: Villa have their first possession of the game, and Stewart Downing takes it up the left before sending it in low in the center for Albrighton, who gets a touch but can't cleanly direct it past Reina — close. Villa hold in possession off the clear. Konchesky fouls Ireland. Downing's cross is collected by Liverpool.

6', 0-0: Free kick off the Ngog foul is well struck by Meireles. It almost gets Kyrgiakos in front of goal, but instead rattles around the box dangerously. Kuyt gets a foot on it, but misses wide right. Meireles takes another piece from a similar spot, but nothing comes of it after more startled defending from Villa. Villa have still yet to develop any possession. Babel builds an attack up the right — Liverpool controlling the ball in the Villa half, but not finding an opening. Eventually, offsides is called on a longball.

3' 0-0: Marc Albrighton is playing despite an apendix operation two weeks ago. Fernando Torres is out as his wife is expected to give birth tonight. Snail-paced start to the match. Liverpool kicking the ball around their defense as though it hasn't even started — no pressure from Villa. They send a couple of longballs, but little develops.  Ngog wins a foul from Dunne at the edge of the final third on the right.

2 p.m.: When Liverpool supporters consider all that has befallen Aston Villa in the early portions of the 2010-11 Premier League season, they probably consider themselves to be pretty lucky.

No side in the league has been so devastated by injury. Captain Stiliyan Petrov has been out long-term, as have target men John Carew and Emile Heskey. Gabriel Abgonlahor and Marc Albrighton have missed extended periods as well. To make matters worse, Stephen Ireland's form has been pretty non-existent, and Ashley Young, perhaps the team's premier player after James Milner's exit, has been the subject of exit rumors himself. He'll also be suspended for Monday's match on yellow cards.

Anfield will welcome back former manager Gerard Houllier, and a warm reception is expected. Liverpool, though, will be without the two holdovers from the Houllier era, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

The captain should return to action next week, while Sotirios Kyrgiakos will replace Carragher in the lineup. Fernando Torres is not named in the squad.

See full lineups below. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. ET.

Liverpool

Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Martin Skrtel (37), center back
Sotirios Kyrgiakos (16), center back
Paul Konchesky (3), left back
Glen Johnson (2), right back
Lucas  (21), midfielder
Raul Meireles (4), midfielder
Maxi Rodríguez (17), midfielder
Dirk Kuyt (18), midfielder
David Ngog (24), forward
Ryan Babel (19), forward

Substitutes

Joe Cole (10)
Fabio Aurelio (6)
Brad Jones (1)
Christian Poulsen (28)
Jonjo Shelvey (33)
Martin Kelly (34)
Milan Jovanovic (14)

Aston Villa

Brad Friedel (1), goalkeeper
Richard Dunne (5), center back
James Collins (29), center back
Stephen Warnock (3), left back
Luke Young (2), right back
Ciaran Clark (21), midfielder
Jonathan Hogg (28), midfielder
Stephen Ireland (9), midfielder
Stewart Downing (6), left wing
Marc Albrighton (12), right wing
Gabriel Agbonlahor (11), forward

Substitutes

Robert Pires 8
John Carew 10
Carlos Jimenez Cuellar 24
Brad Guzan 22
Chris Herd 31
Nathan Delfouneso 14
Eric Lichaj 30

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