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Ex-Red reckons Anfield is at last getting its spirit and its smile back

Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson has hailed the performance put in by Roy Hodgson's men against Aston Villa to register a 3-0 victory despite the absence of Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

The trio's unavailability gave the chance for other players to step up to the plate, and David Ngog, Ryan Babel and Maxi Rodriguez scored to guide the Merseyside club to victory against the Birmingham-based outfit.

"Some people suggest we can't read anything into beating Aston Villa because they were so poor. But I don't buy it," Thompson told the Liverpool Echo.

"Without Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and then Fernando Torres on Monday, this was a chance for those who came in to step up and shine. And they did.

"Ok, Villa weren't good but you must give our players the credit they undoubtedly deserve.

"[Raul] Meireles and Lucas looked a very good blend in the middle - Lucas was man of the match for me - while Ngog and Babel both got good striker's goals.

"The movement was good, the passing good too and the central defensive partnership of [Sotirios] Kyrgiakos and [Martin] Skrtel was very solid."

He added: "Performances are definitely improving of late and while no-one must get at all carried away or become complacent, I believe the feel-good factor at the club is now starting to return.

"I was down in the corridors after the game and you could sense it among the players, the staff and stewards. Anfield seemed a more relaxed and happy place than it has been for some time and it's an atmosphere the players have helped create by what they've been doing and producing out there on the pitch.

"Anfield is at last getting its spirit and its smile back, it seems to me."

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