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January 18, 2014
• Anfield, Liverpool
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 44737
D. Sturridge 45'+
S. Gerrard 53'
A. Weimann 25'
C. Benteke 36'
That's all from me for tonight guys and girls. Thanks for joining me! Goodbye.
Liverpool remain in fourth place for the time being, but Everton could leapfrog them with a victory on Monday night against West Brom. Villa, meanwhile, climb into the top half thanks to their point today.
FULL-TIME: LIVERPOOL 2-2 ASTON VILLA – The shares are spoiled at Anfield after a pulsating 2-2 draw, which saw Lambert's side surrender a two-goal lead. Liverpool drop points at home for only the second time in the league this season, but will be pleased to have got anything from the game after first-half goals from Benteke and Weimann. Sturridge grabbed one back shortly before the break, before Gerrard levelled things from the spot after Suarez was felled by Guzan.
90' + 4'
And there is the final whistle!
90' + 3'
Yellow CardRaheem Sterling
90' + 2'
Suarez wriggles his way past a challenge from Vlaar inside the box before hammering an effort at goal from a tight angle. Guzan does not know a lot about it, but he gets a firm block on the shot to deflect it away to safety.
90' + 1'
Liverpool have not been at their best today but they could steal all three points with a late winner. They've got three minutes left to find one...
The fourth official signals for FOUR minutes of added time...
Luna draws a foul from Sterling on the left, which gives Villa a chance to breathe for a second and churn up a few valuable seconds.
Yellow CardLeandro Bacuna
That's a waste from Sturridge! As if often the case he shifts the ball on to his favoured left rather than using his right, and in a position on the right that is not ideal when your team-mates are waiting for a cross. His curling left-footed pass is easily picked off by Guzan – much to Suarez's evident disdain.
Panic clearance from Clark! A hopeful punt forward from Gerrard is chased down by Suarez and the Villa centre-back ignores his team-mates calls for a pass by thumping the ball into the stands for a throw.
The game is petering out somewhat. Surely they're not going to settle for a draw. Five minutes left on the clock, plus added time.
Gerrard sends a searching 50-yard ball into the right channel towards Sterling, but Guzan is quick off his line to grab the ball ahead of the nippy winger.
Villa make their third and final change as Bertrand comes off to be replaced by Luna.
Rather than challenge Benteke in the air Allen opts to ease him off course after he has jumped, which results in a free kick for the visitors just inside the Liverpool half.
Bacuna and Sturridge are exchanging pleasantries inside the Villa box after the Liverpool forward pushed the defender to the floor. Fortunately for him the referee is choosing to move play on without going to his pocket.
And there's another free kick for the hosts after Westwood crunches through the back of Henderson on the halfway line. A simple decision for the man in black.
OOOOOOH AND THAT IS SO NEARLY 3-2! Suarez's curling free kick flies just wide of the top left corner, with Guzan well beaten. What a strike that was, not many players would have taken that on from so far out.
Suarez is lining up a free kick 35 yards from goal...
GREAT HOLD-UP PLAY FROM HOLT! The 32-year-old receives a quick free kick from Westwood with his back to goal and does superbly to hold off the challenge of Gerrard and backheel the ball to the overlapping Delph. He smashes a cross across the six-yard box, but no Villa player is able to meet the ball and it is eventually cleared by Cissokho.
Gerrard curls a divine pass into the path of Sterling down the right, but his cross is deflected away from danger by Bertrand. The on-loan full-back has done well in his first start for Lambert's side.
Despite pushing Henderson out of the way to meet a corner from the right Holt is unable to get his header on target and the ball bounces wide.
Villa, meanwhile, are resorting to a far more direct approach, which is unsurprising really when you consider their attacking options. Holt and Benteke would cause any defence problems in the air.
The hosts are pouring forward in search of a third but Villa are holding firm for the time being. Guzan has made a couple of decent stops since conceding that penalty, while Sterling has also missed the target on a couple of occasions.
Silly from Sturridge. The forward backheels the ball to no-one when in a promising position inside the Villa box.
That is a change Rodgers will not have envisaged. Off goes Lucas, who came on at half-time but picked up a knee injury a few minutes ago, to be replaced by Joe Allen.
STRONG STOP BY GUZAN!! The American goalkeeper throws out his left hand to keep out a stinging effort from Henderson after the midfielder was teed up by Sterling.
STAT: Of the 22 Premier League penalties that Gerrard has scored, five have come against Villa. (via Infostrada)
Lucas is down clutching his right knee, which will be worrying for Liverpool fans. The Brazil international has been plagued with knee injuries in the past few seasons, particularly in 2011-12 when he tore his left ACL.
Villa make their second change of the afternoon as Yacouba Sylla comes on for El Ahmadi.
Karim El Ahmadi
STAT: Rodgers' team have won 10 of their last 11 home league games (W10 D0 L1) and won the last seven in a row.
Gerrard has come to the fore since pushing forward for the hosts. He played the pass to Suarez that drew the foul from Guzan for the penalty, and has been linking brilliantly with his side's front three since the break.
A quick Gerrard free kick sets Sterling away on the right. He tries to repeat the speedy trick by flinging a first-time cross towards Suarez at the back post, but sadly for the former Ajax man the pass goes straight out of play.
Sturridge tries to go it alone after picking the ball up just inside the Villa half. He is allowed to run towards the box, and should really pass to Sterling or Suarez rather than dragging a shot straight into the arms of Guzan.
And now we can hear the Liverpool fans! The Anfield faithful were quiet before the break but they are in fine voice now that there side are back in it. 2-2 the score, with 35 minutes left to play.
STAT: Gerrard has scored more goals, 12, in the Premier League against Aston Villa than he has managed against any other side.
Penalty GoalSteven Gerrard
GERRARD SCORES FROM THE SPOT! The Liverpool skipper makes no mistake with his penalty, dispatching it firmly past Guzan and into the bottom right corner.
PENALTY FOR LIVERPOOL! Suarez goes past Guzan inside the box and the goalkeeper clearly catches the Uruguayan as he tries to retrieve the ball.
Here comes Grant Holt. The striker, on loan from Wigan, has been brought on for Villa, as Agbonlahor makes way because of that injury he picked up before the break.
Yellow CardRyan Bertrand
Bertrand hurtles into Sterling on the halfway line and is unsurprisingly booked for the challenge. He got nowhere near the ball and sent the diminutive winger flying.
AMBITIOUS FROM SUAREZ! The Liverpool forward tries to dink the ball over Guzan from a tight angle inside the area, but his attempt bounces some way wide of goal.
It looks like Gerrard will push forward into a more advanced position, despite proclamations in the press recently that he would be Liverpool's Pirlo for the rest of the season.
Liverpool get the game back underway, and they have made a change at the break. It's one Brazilian for another as Lucas replaces Coutinho.
How long before we see Lucas in this game? Rodgers will want a much better all-round performance from his side after the break, and the Brazil international could well provide the midfield platform for them to turn this match around.
HALF-TIME: LIVERPOOL 1-2 ASTON VILLA – Lambert's men deservedly lead at the break after taking the game to the hosts in the opening half. Weimann put the visitors ahead with a close-range finish after a stunning counter attack involving Agbonlahor and Benteke, before the latter added a second in the 36th minute with a header following a mistake from Mignolet. Liverpool are certainly still in this one though, particularly given their firepower in attack. Seconds before the break they pulled a goal back through Sturridge, after decent build-up play from Suarez and Henderson.
45' + 3'
And there is the half-time whistle... What a half it was! Villa lead 2-1 at the break.
45' + 2'
45' + 2'
STURRIDGE STEALS ONE BACK! The former Chelsea man prods a shot past Guzan and into the far corner to make it 2-1, after Suarez's firm pass had been flicked into his path brilliantly by Henderson on the edge of the penalty area.
45' + 1'
Agbonlahor curses to the high heavens after failing to control a pass from Delph. The sometime England international does not look to have shaken off the injury he sustained earlier in the game when he went flying over the advertising hoardings.
45' + 1'
The fourth official signals for three minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
They fail to make the most of the set piece though, and after a couple of ricochets Guzan is able to gather the ball comfortably.
A brilliantly-worked move from Liverpool results in a corner at the end of this first half. Sturridge, Suarez and Henderson linked well, before Coutinho's firm strike was deflected behind by Clark.
Villa's fans, perhaps getting ahead of themselves a tiny bit, are shouting 'Ole' whenever their team complete a pass.
My word that's a horrible shot from Cissokho... The left-back gets the ball on the left side of the penalty area from Suarez, and rather than looking to tee up either Suarez or Sturridge, he elects to shoot from a tight angle. Needless to say, with no goals so far in a Liverpool shirt, his effort is not a good one – it balloons high into the stands behind Guzan's goal.
Delph has been very impressive for the away side so far, dropping in to the space in front of Villa's backline and hassling the likes of Coutinho, Sturridge and Suarez whenever they get the ball.
STAT: Liverpool had conceded just six goals in their last 12 Premier League matches at Anfield before this game.
BENTEKE DOUBLES VILLA'S LEAD! El Ahmadi feeds Agbonlahor on the right, and he sends an enticing cross into the box that tempts Mignolet from his line. The Belgian goalkeeper makes a mess of his punch though, and only succeeds in tipping the ball onto the head of his international team-mate, who makes no mistake in nodding the ball into an unoccupied goal.
Clark leans across Suarez as the Uruguay international tries to latch on to a throughball from Sturridge inside the box, but the forward then clips the heels of the Villa centre-back. The more blatant misdemeanor is picked up by the referee, and the visitors have a free kick.
STAT: Weimann's goal was the first that Liverpool have conceded in the first half of a Premier League game at Anfield this season.
GOOD SAVE FROM GUZAN! The Villa goalkeeper does well to parry a fizzing effort from Sterling, after the winger had been played in by Suarez on the right side of the box.
Suarez and Sterling exchange passes in a dangerous area 25 yards from goal, but the English wide player cannot control the ball inside the Villa box, and Bacuna is able to smash the ball upfield.
Agbonlahor has picked up a knock after tumbling over the advertising hoardings behind the Liverpool goal. He trudges off to receive treatment, but should be able to continue.
Bacuna quite clearly caught Suarez with an elbow there, but the referee, again, gave the Uruguayan nothing.
Suarez goes down for the second time this evening, and this time he is clutching his head. Liverpool opt not to knock the ball out and continue playing regardless, with the move finishing when Sturridge blasts a long-range strike high and wide.
And you can't say that's an undeserved lead for the visitors. They have come out all guns blazing at Anfield this evening!
VILLA HAVE THE LEAD!! Delph's pass finds Benteke on the left, he flicks it onwards into the path of Agbonlahor, who races past Toure and arrows a pass across the face of Mignolet's goal that Weimann dives to touch over the line.
Delph does very well to dispossess Suarez in the Villa box and launch a blistering counter down the left...
CLARK HITS THE POST!! The Villa centre-back is unchallenged as he meets a corner from the right with his head, but his effort crashed back off the right-hand post before being hoofed away by Cissokho.
STURRIDGE CURLS WIDE! That's the first time we've seen the English forward given time to cause any mischief, and he nearly gives his side the lead with an ambitious left-footed effort from the right that flew a yard or so wide of the top left corner.
Yellow CardKarim El Ahmadi
El Ahmadi finds his way into the referee's notebook after clattering into Cissokho on the left-hand side.
A super chested pass from Benteke sets Bertrand away inside the box, but his cutback is deflected away with Agbonlahor ready to pounce on the edge of the six-yard box.
Henderson looks to have got away with a blatant handball, but the referee was just trying to play the advantage. After Benteke fails to make the most of it the official pulls play back for a free kick to the visitors.
What a waste that is! Gerrard curls a free kick from the right straight out of play, with a host of red shirts waiting to meet the cross inside the Villa box.
Yellow CardCiaran Clark
Coutinho misplaces a simple pass to Henderson in an attacking position, and Villa quickly launch a counter attack down the left. Gerrard appears to have averted the danger by stealing the ball from Weimann, but a heavy touch allows the forward to nick the ball back, burst into the box, and then whip in a dangerous cross that is hacked away by Skrtel.
Benteke and Karim El Ahmadi link well on the edge of the Liverpool box, but across comes Toure to thump the ball out for a throw, just as the Belgian forward looked to strike at goal.
Suarez crumples to the deck 20 yards from goal under pressure from Ciaran Clark, and despite the Liverpool fans baying for blood/a free kick, the referee calmly waves play on.
STAT: No team has conceded fewer home goals than Liverpool this season in the Premier League – six.
Are Liverpool missing Lucas? Villa are finding a lot of space between the Reds' midfield and defence at the moment, which is the territory that the Brazilian usually prowls.
And breathe... It's been a fast-paced opening at Anfield, with Villa threatening far more than many, including myself, predicated they would. Benteke in particular is causing Liverpool's centre-back pairing of Kolo Toure and Skrtel trouble in the opening stages.
Well I thought Bacuna nodded that behind, but a replay has shown that the ball bounced off his outstretched right arm. The visitors are a tad lucky to get away with that, the referee could easily have given a penalty there.
Gerrard sweeps the set piece towards Skrtel at the back post, but the centre-back is beaten to the ball by Leandro Bacuna, who nods the ball behind for a corner.
Free kick for Liverpool 25 yards out...
MORE DECENT PLAY FROM VILLA! Their front three of Weimann, Agbonlahor and Benteke have started very brightly in this game. First Agbonlahor clipped that effort wide, and now Weimann has been tackled right on the edge of the box after another fine flick, this time from Agbonlahor.
Aly Cissokho gets the ball from Philippe Coutinho on the left for the hosts, but he never looks that assured as he forages down that side, and is eventually dispossessed by Ron Vlaar.
HUGE CHANCE FOR VILLA! Benteke beats Toure in the air to nod a high ball into the path of Agbonlahor who is racing into the Liverpool box, but his flicked effort round Mignolet goes just the wrong side of the right-hand post. That was so nearly a goal for the visitors in the opening minute!
Villa get us underway on Merseyside, and within seconds Fabian Delph hammers a long pass straight out of play...
The teams are now out at Anfield and we are just minutes away from kick-off...
Suarez is going in search of his 23rd league goal of the season tonight, which would see him equal his tally from the last Premier League campaign. Is there a more in-form striker in world football? I'm not sure there is.
VILLA TEAM NEWS: Lambert switches to what looks like a 4-3-3 formation, with Andreas Weimann playing in attack alongside Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Ryan Bertrand, signed on loan from Chelsea this week, slots straight in at left-back at Antonio Luna's expense. Grant Holt, another loan signing for Villa, is named as a substitute.
LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS: SAS... Sturridge and Suarez. Daniel Sturridge returns to the starting line-up after starring in a cameo role during the rollercoaster win over Stoke last time out. He supports the irrepressible Luis Suarez in attack for Rodgers' side, while Lucas drops to the bench with Steven Gerrard starting alongside Jordan Henderson in central midfield.
SUBS: Steer, Sylla, Helenius, Albrighton, Luna, Gardner, Holt
VILLA (4-3-3): Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Bertrand; El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph; Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann
SUBS: Jones, Kelly, Lucas, Moses, Allen, Aspas, Alberto
LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Toure, Cissokho; Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Coutinho, Sturridge; Suarez
Without further ado, let's have a quick look at the two startings XIs...
Paul Lambert, meanwhile, will take heart from his side's form on their travels, despite the general consensus being that Liverpool will tear their opponents apart in this one. Villa have won just six times in the league this season, but four of those victories have come away from Villa Park.
My name is Charlie Scott and I'll be guiding you through the twists and turns of today's match on Merseyside, as Brendan Rodgers' side try and continue their fabulous league form at home. The Reds have won all but one of their 11 Premier League matches at Anfield so far this campaign.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to LIVE coverage of the last Premier League game of the day, which pits Liverpool against Aston Villa at Anfield.
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