Football Features

Liverpool 1-0 Villa leaves Gerrard feeling harshly treated as all three title rivals earn “lucky” breaks

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:46, 11 December 2021

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard was left disappointed on his Anfield return as Liverpool ran out 1-0 winners.

The runaway Premier League top scorer Mohamed Salah ultimately decided the game from 12 yards to ensure Jurgen Klopp’s men kept pace with early leaders Manchester City whose lead will remain one point after this latest round of fixtures.

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So much had been written about Gerrard’s homecoming but the boyhood red, who made 710 appearances in all competitions, wasn’t prepared to let this occasion get the best of him. “There was a lot of emotion around it for me and my family. I’m very respectful and thankful for the reception I got. I tried to deal with it in the most professional way I could,” he told reporters.

Having begun his Villa tenure with three wins across four Premier League outings — exception being a 1-2 home loss to City — it seemed Villa were heading towards picking up a hardfought point before skipper Tyrone Mings clumsily brought Liverpool’s mercurial Egyptian forward down in the penalty area with 25 minutes remaining.

After the video assistant referee (VAR) reviewed the incident and backed Stuart Attwell’s on-field decision Gerrard made his feelings known about how the game panned out in his post-match briefing especially when he felt Villa should have been given a spot-kick of their own.

“The game has been decided by a penalty,” he told reporters. “Liverpool got theirs, we didn’t get ours. It feels harsh on us. Salah fouls Tyrone Mings first. And why wasn’t it a foul on Danny Ings? The disappointing thing is the ref doesn’t go have another look in both cases”

Never one to let a goalscoring opportunity pass him by, Salah dusted himself down to convert. It was his 14th league strike of this campaign. To put this in perspective he’s eight away from matching last season’s total and 18 behind his best return (32 – 2017/18) with 22 matches remaining albeit he’ll miss a few due to participating at the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

On top of that, Salah has either scored or assisted a goal in 14 consecutive Premier League games, which is the second longest run of consecutive games with a goal involvement in the competition’s history, after Jamie Vardy’s run of 15 between August and December 2015.

“I think many people agree, he’s the best player in the world right now,” Trent Alexander-Arnold told the Premier League’s media channel in a post-match interview. “He’s got nothing left to prove. Every week, we’re coming in and he’s broken another record. It’s frightening.”

It was somewhat poetic that Liverpool’s most important star today upstaged his predecessor who had the weight of history against him. Now the dust has settled; former players managing against them in the Premier League have now lost 15 of their last 17 visits with Kevin Keegan remaining the last former player to win there in May 2003 with Manchester City.