Alberto Aquilani adds extra flair to the Liverpool midfield
Alberto Aquilani celebrated his first goal in Liverpool colours when the Reds produced a sleek display against Portsmouth last Monday.
Against the bottom club, Rafael BenÃƒÂtez opted to field an attacking team with Aquilani and Maxi Rodriguez replacing Lucas and Dirk Kuyt respectively. The Reds reaped the rewards as the pair proved instrumental in securing a 4-1 rout over the south coast club.
The sight of the Italian midfielder taking control of proceedings in the centre of the park will have provided much needed solace to the Kopites. The hefty £20 million price tag and the reservations of BenÃƒÂtez to risk the player in high-tempo games had led to many quarters of the media branding the transfer as an expensive flop.
However Monday’s encouraging performance will have helped to quell the doubts raised over the Italian’s suitability to the Premier League.
Undoubtedly it has taken time for the former Roma player to adjust to the bustling nature of England’s top flight and BenÃƒÂtez has been cautious in deploying his newly-acquired Italian starlet with the 25-year-old often absent from the squad at potentially troublesome away games.
It has been a reoccurring theme this season with the Spanish manager preferring to utilise Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva in the centre of midfield with skipper Steven Gerrard present at the top of the quintet.
Such a tactic, however, has resulted in Gerrard becoming isolated from the midfield. The defensive midfield duo of Mascherano and Lucas, while displaying an admirable work-rate, struggle to navigate a way through resolute sides who travel to Anfield content to sit back and consequently hit Liverpool on the counter attack.
For the Portsmouth encounter, Aquilani offered an extra dimension. He displayed excellent vision, impressive passing ability and innovative flicks as he orchestrated what has been at times a one-dimensional midfield for Rafael BenÃƒÂtez this season.
Such was his positive impact that his performance earned him the accolade of man of the match. The Italian will be hoping to recover from illness to leave a similar imprint on Liverpool’s eagerly anticipated visit to Old Trafford this afternoon, where the Merseysiders claimed a historic 4-1 victory over the eventual champions last season.
The Italian spoke to LFC.TV after the Portsmouth game and he expressed his delight in finally opening his Liverpool account.
“I feel really good because I’ve scored my first goal after a really long time,” said Aquilani. “I’m also really happy because of the result – we needed that. The goal is even more special because I scored it in front of the Kop.”
“Can I do better? Everyone can do better,” he added. “I think I played well but I have to take it step by step. Today was a good day and now we look to the next game.”