Continuing the series where I look back at my five favourite wins by Liverpool against their upcoming opponents. This weekend Liverpool play against Aston Villa at Anfield. Here are my five favourite wins from past encounters.
8th May 1979
LIVERPOOL (2) 3 (A.Kennedy 1, Dalglish 38, McDermott 57)
ASTON VILLA (0) 0
LIVERPOOL: Clemence; Neal, Thompson, Hansen, A.Kennedy; Case, McDermott, Souness, R.Kennedy; Johnson, Dalglish
ASTON VILLA: Rimmer; Gidman, Evans, McNaught, Gibson; Swain, Mortimer, Gregory, Cowans; Deehan, Cropley (Linton)
Having been denied a treble of League Championships the season before, when Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest were Champions, Liverpool came back with a vengeance. This was a record-breaking season for them and as Villa arrived at Anfield for the third-to-last game of the season, the title could be secured.
Villa were lying in 8th, 18pts behind their hosts but unbeaten in their previous six matches which included a win over Liverpool at Villa Park in April. That defeat at Villa Park was the only one of 1979 for Liverpool as their unbeaten run had stretched to 13 games since they lost at Bristol City in mid-December. Liverpool’s home form was stunning. Only two sides had come away with a point and only 4 players had managed to breach the home defence. In Liverpool’s 10 previous titles they had never reached more than 61pts, yet they were sitting on 62pts at the start of play.
In front of just over 50,000 fans, Liverpool took the lead inside the opening minute. Terry McDermott’s cross was turned in by Alan Kennedy. Kennedy had made his debut in August and was to become an integral part of one of the meanest defences British football has ever seen. With half-time approaching and The Kop in great voice, Kenny Dalglish made it 2-0. This season would represent his best return in front of goal with 21, but his contribution to the side was worth much more than that. Villa battled valiantly but Terry McDermott finished things off just before the hour.
3-0 it was and Liverpool won their 11th title, with a new points record (68), a new record for fewest goals conceded at home (4) and best goal difference (+69). They won 40pts from a maximum 42pts at home too.
Aston Villa finished 8th but would go onto win the title, themselves two years from here.
3rd May 1980
LIVERPOOL (1) 4 (Johnson 3, 72, Cohen 50, Blake og, 78)
ASTON VILLA (1) 1 (Cohen og, 26)
LIVERPOOL: Clemence; Neal, Thompson, Hansen, Cohen; Lee, McDermott, Souness, R. Kennedy; Johnson, Dalglish
ASTON VILLA: Rimmer; Swain, Blake, Ormsby, Gibson; Bremner, Heard, Linton (Morley), Cowans; Geddis, Shaw
The games were coming thick and fast for Liverpool ,after their marathon FA Cup Semi-Final with Arsenal. It was their 4th game of the week, having met Arsenal on the Monday and then Thursday before this Saturday match. In the league they had lost just twice since the end of February and had conceded just once in their last six at home. Villa were in 5th, improving on twelve months earlier.
Liverpool were top of the table leading Manchester United on goal difference but with a game in hand. On the same day United travelled to Leeds, knowing defeat would mean the title remained at Anfield.
Liverpool had won the title against Villa at home this time last year, and history was to repeat itself as David Johnson gave them an early lead. Johnson had worked hard to try and gain a regular place and this season would prove to be his best at Anfield with 27 goals in all competitions. Midway through the first half, the visitors got back on level terms. They pushed forward and Ivor Linton’s shot was blocked by Avi Cohen, but the ball looped over Clemence into the net. The first Israeli to play in English football, Cohen had struggled to force his way past Alan Kennedy at left back and today was his chance to impress, but this was not the impression he was looking to make.
Five minutes into the second half the ground rose as one to acclaim Cohen who made amends for his mistake in the first half. As Liverpool attacked on the right of the area, Dalglish knocked the ball across to the left where Cohen arrived late and fired the ball into the corner past Rimmer. Cohen was a huge favourite at Anfield. He only made 24 appearances, but scored 2 goals – both at the same end in different halves of the same match!
As the game went into the final twenty minutes, Johnson scored a screamer. He later explained that coach Ronnie Moran had been getting on his back about not scoring enough with his left foot, so he ‘lashed’ this in and it ‘hit the post and shot across the net’. Liverpool complete the scoring when Villa defender, Noel Blake, put through his own net for a 4-1 win.
As the game finished, news filtered through that Manchester United had lost at Leeds so Liverpool were Champions once again, which more than made up for disappointment of not reaching the FA Cup Final. Villa ended up in 7th.
3rd March 1996
LIVERPOOL (3) 3 (McManaman 2, Fowler 5, 8)
ASTON VILLA (0) 0
LIVERPOOL: James; McAteer, Wright (Redknapp), Babb, Scales, Jones; McManaman, Thomas, Barnes; Fowler, Collymore (Rush)
ASTON VILLA: Bosnich; Charles, Ehiogu, Southgate, Wright; Townsend, Farrelly, Scimeca, Staunton (Joachim); Yorke, Milosevic
These two were 3rd and 4th at the start of play desperately hoping to make ground on Manchester United and Newcastle. Liverpool were unbeaten since November, a run of 12 games, including a 2-0 win at Villa Park. For Aston Villa that home defeat to Liverpool was their only one of the year so far, a run of 8 matches.
This game will forever be remembered for the day Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman destroyed Villa inside eight minutes. The game was over, as a contest, by then. For the opening couple of minutes the visitors didn’t touch the ball. Liverpool knocked the ball around comfortably from left to right, looking for an opening. It came as Collymore’s left footed ball into the area from the right wing was flicked on by Fowler and McManaman, just inside the area, volleyed the ball first time past Bosnich and it all looked effortless.
Villa eventually got a touch but struggled to hold onto it as Liverpool were rampant. Collymore forced Bosnich into a save, before Anfield witnessed one of the best finishes ever seen came with just 5 minutes gone. Fowler, McAteer and McManaman formed a triangle on the right side of midfield and as McManaman played the ball forward to Fowler, the Liverpool striker had his back to goal with Staunton coming up close behind him. Fowler flicked the ball behind him with his left foot, turned and left Staunton for dead. As Fowler strode towards goal he took one more touch and then fired an unbelievable left foot strike from 25 yards which flew in past Bosnich’s right hand. It was a stunning strike and one which will live long in the memory. The turn was a modern-day equivalent of ‘the Cruyff turn’ and as if that wasn’t enough, the power and accuracy of the shot was almost too much.
It was Fowler’s 28th goal of the season and the place was bouncing. But Liverpool weren’t about to settle back as their constant pass and move was in full evidence. Villa just couldn’t get the ball, as the home sides movement was running rings round them. Within minutes Jones, hugging the left touchline just inside his own half, played a ball through the Villa defence and Fowler was away again. As he reached the edge of the area he again fired an unstoppable shot underneath Bosnich. The angle seemed far too tight, yet the power of the shot was far too much for the Villa keeper. Just eight minutes into the game and it was all over. The play was devastating and Villa were completely stunned.
3-0 was the result and it was Liverpool’s third consecutive win. Liverpool ended up in 3rd as Manchester United pipped Newcastle to the post. Villa ended 4th.
6th September 2000
LIVERPOOL (3) 3 (Owen 5, 14, 33)
ASTON VILLA (0) 1 (Stone 83)
LIVERPOOL: Westerveld; Babbel, Hyypia, Henchoz, Carragher, Traore; Smicer (Barmby), Gerrard, Hamann; Owen, Heskey (Meijer)
ASTON VILLA: James; Stone,Southgate, Ehiogu, Barry; Taylor, Alpay (Ginola), Boateng (Hendrie); Nilis, Dublin, Merson
A visit early in the season for Villa this time but it was another one where they came away with nothing. Villa’s two matches before this had ended in draws with Liverpool registering a win, a loss and a draw in their three.
A week earlier, Liverpool had surrendered a three goal lead to only gain a point at Southampton. This time they weren’t so profligate. Inside the opening five minutes Heskey powered his way down the right and his cross was turned in by Michael Owen. Owen had scored twice at Southampton and was in a rich vein of goalscoring form. Ten minutes later Smicer’s right-wing corner was missed by David James and one of the smallest men in the area, Owen, was able to head Liverpool into a 2-0 lead. Then just after the half hour, a poor defensive header let Owen in and James charged off his line. The former Liverpool keeper missed the ball again and Owen passed the ball into the empty net to complete his hat-trick. 6 goals in his last 3 games for Owen and it was a great start to the season.
Villa had claims for a penalty turned down and then in the second half Southgate cleared off the line after another James mistake. Anfield had long become used to these errors from James, but this time they were to profit from them. Steve Stone grabbed a consolation goal for the visitors but Liverpool were not to be denied.
Liverpool finished the season in 3rd behind Manchester United and Arsenal with Aston Villa back in 8th
22nd March 2009
LIVERPOOL (3) 5 (Kuyt 8, Riera 33, Gerrard pen 39, 50, pen 65)
ASTON VILLA (0) 0
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Arbeloa (Agger), Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio; Kuyt, Gerrard (N’Gog), Mascherano, Alonso (Lucas), Riera; Torres
ASTON VILLA: Friedel; Young, Davies, Cuellar; Milner, Barry, Reo-Coker (Guzan), Petrov, Young; Heskey (Agbonlahor), Carew (Gardner)
When Villa arrived at Anfield in 2009 both sides were in the top 5. Liverpool were in 3rd just 4pts behind the leaders, Manchester United, who they’d beaten 4-1 the previous week. Aston Villa were back in 5th and dreaming of possible Champions League places.
Liverpool were in sparkling form. They’d beaten Real Madrid, 4-0 in the Champions League then Manchester United, 4-1, at Old Trafford and confidence was high. Eight minutes in and they had a free-kick on the left edge of the area. Steven Gerrard’s stunning strike clattered the bar and as it bounced down Dirk Kuyt caught it full on the volley to open the scoring. Villa struggled to get into the game as Liverpool threatened to take them apart. A long Pepe Reina kick bounced beyond the Villa defence and Albert Riera ran onto it and he also met it first time on the volley to fire past Friedel for a 2-0 lead. Riera was then brought down in the box and Gerrard tucked away the penalty for a comfortable 3-0 half-time lead.
Villa had been playing some good football up to this match, but they were clearly second best on this occasion. In the second half, Liverpool had another free-kick just outside the area. Riera knocked the ball sideways to Gerrard who side-footed it into the net for his 2nd of the game. Then midway through the half Torres was clear of the defence and as Friedel came out, he tapped the ball past the keeper just in time the challenge to bring him down. Friedel actually turned his back to avoid the contact but Torres was in full flow and was brought down. Friedel was sent-off, although Villa successfully appealed his red card. Gerrard stepped up, sent Guzan the wrong way to complete his hat-trick.
Liverpool moved about Chelsea into 2nd and within a point of United. This was the finest Liverpool team of recent years but in the end they were pipped to the title by 4pts. Villa ended in 6th.
HEAD TO HEAD at Anfield
Liverpool win: 55
Aston Villa win: 16
Liverpool goals: 197
Aston Villa goals: 96