Aston Villa grinded out an unexpected 0-1 win over Liverpool thanks to an early goal by Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Agbonlahor, who this week signed a four-year contract extension at Villa Park, put his boyhood club 0-1 up after just nine minutes when he bundled in a corner thanks to some poor Liverpool defending.
Said defence was under pressure again soon after but this time Phillipe Senderos headed over from Ashley Westwood’s free-kick.
Liverpool throughout tried and failed to break down a resolute and organised Villa side.
Mario Balotelli, who many quoted as a “bargain” at £16 million was ineffective against Senderos and Nathan Baker on his home debut in a Liverpool shirt and was replaced by Rickie Lambert with 20 minutes to go.
The controversial Italian had just one chance of note, a deflected effort in first half injury time that went wide.
Balotelli also had headed chances at corners but did not gain sufficient contact on either of them.
Liverpool’s closest effort came nine minutes before the end when Phillipe Coutinho hit the post from the outside of the area. From the rebound Raheem Sterling’s shot was blocked by his own player Jordan Henderson which summed up their day.
Brendan Rodgers’ side again showed that while plan A of patient but potent passing play can be deadly as well as easy on the eye, the side lacks a different option when teams set up to defend and hit them through a counter attack or, like this case, a set piece.
Aston Villa however were impressive in the way they set themselves up and continued their recent good form at Anfield, they have not lost there in their last four outings now.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Lallana (Sterling ’61), Markovic (Borini ’71), Balotelli (Lambert ’71)
Subs not used: Jones, Enrique, Lucas, Toure,
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Baker, Senderos, Cissokho, Westwood, Delph, Cleverley (Sanchez ’86), Richardson, Agbonlahor (Bent ’90), Weimann (N’Zogbia ’72)
Subs not used: Given, Okore, Bacuna, Grealish