On Saturday, Liverpool’s final home game of the season ended in a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa. Goals from Roberto Firmino in the 90th minute and Jacob Ramsey in the 27th minute meant that the Reds’ winning run came to an end. The game was a stressful and long affair, with many of the players not performing to the benefit of the team. Luis Diaz, Jordan Henderson, and Cody Gakpo all failed to contribute much to the buildup play or creation. Alisson had an excellent outing, making a massive one-on-one save from Jacob Ramsey.
John Brooks put forward a strong case for being the worst official in the Premier League, as he was fooled by a ridiculous dive from the most minimal of touches, awarding a penalty to Ollie Watkins. He also gave far worse outside of the box in a busy first half. The disallowed Gakpo goal was due to Brooks needing to check whether the defender’s flick to Virgil van Dijk from Diaz’s attempted pass counted as a deliberate action.
The new kit got its first runout, with each fan making their own minds up if it looks chic or cheap. This game was also the final Anfield occasions as Reds for James Milner and Roberto Firmino. Both came on after 72 minutes, receiving plenty of songs and cheers from the crowd. Firmino had one more say in his Anfield career, scoring a last-minute equaliser which would usually have been far more jubilantly celebrated had the team not been desperate to get the game back underway and try to get another goal.
The draw leaves Liverpool three points off the top four with only one match left to play, almost certainly ruling out any final-day drama to return to the Champions League. The Reds struggled without Jurgen Klopp on the touchline, not managing a shot on target and being second-best in midfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold was important to Liverpool, but this new system is all about having him more central, more involved, more on the ball. However, he wasn’t good, overrunning the ball too often trying to do it all himself. This raises the question of how Liverpool will open up teams when their creative maestro is absent or ineffective.
The Reds now have one game left to play away to relegated Southampton, where they will be looking to secure at least fifth place. Players should still be keen to not make any more slip-ups and finish on a positive note.