The Doc's Diagnosis - Liverpool vs Aston Villa

I'm not going to pretend: I'm out of the country at the moment and had to listen to the game on BBC Five Live's internet service. But what a transformation.

If I heard it right, Villa's midfield outfought the Reds at Anfield. It sounded to me like Liverpool had no answer to a busy, tough, pacy and industrious five man Villa midfield and spent two thirds of the game worrying about what might happen if they pushed forward too much.


This is exactly why both Damian and I have been banging the drum for 4-5-1/4-3-3 for so long now. We always, always look a better side when we play that way. And I'm afraid the home vs away argument, which suggests we need a couple up front to break sides down at Villa Park, is becoming more and more laughable.

O'Neill deployed not only the best tactics tonight, but also the best players in the right positions. For those of you who have knocked and slagged Nigel Reo-Coker, James Milner and Nicky Shorey - all of them excelled in a formation which was solid and always hinted at danger on the break.

Martin O'Neill has not made many bad signings. He just hasn't given players like NRC sufficient chance to show themselves. Tonight, he did.

And the rewards are there for all to see.

I would be a con if I offered any further Diagnosis, not having seen the game.

But from what I heard on the radio, Davies, Shorey, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Beye and Friedel all deserve mentions in dispatches.

All sport is about confidence, belief and the momentum which flows from them: let's hope this is the start of a big, rolling Villa bandwagon.

Up the Villa!