Aston Villa 2 Liverpool 1: Three talking points

Three talking points as Aston Villa stun Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final

By Jonathan Spencer

A Fab captain performance

Aston Villa captian Fabian Delph epitomised his team’s performance on the big stage on Sunday afternoon. Hard-working, tenacious and composed sums up the performance of a struggling Villa side. Delph’s display is exactly what every manager, fan and team player wants from their captain. He set the tone from the off and it paid dividends. After going 1-0 down to a deflected Philippe Coutinho opener, he drove forward with a mazy run, evading Emre Can on his way and setting Jack Grealish free. Instead of admiring his own work, he carried on running up the left flank, later to be found by Grealish, before teeing up Christian Benteke for an important equalising goal. Delph’s day later improved. In the second half, he linked up with Grealish once again. He received the ball in the Liverpool box from the talented youngster before turning Dejan Lovren and firing the ball past Simon Mignolet to put the underdogs ahead. He continued his hard work throughout the remainder of the match and was a vital player for Villa. If the club want to have a successful end to the season in the FA Cup and the Premier League, Delph will need to show these performances throughout the remainder of the campaign. His hard work was backed up by his teammates and it was a well-deserved victory.

From one captain to another

It was a tale of two captains on Saturday as Delph and Steven Gerrard turned out completely contrasting performances. The 34-year-old had a match he won’t want to remember. He did not have an impact on the semi-final and the former England man was lucky not to be substituted in the second half. There is no doubting the Liverpool skipper has had a hugely brilliant career but there is no longer a starting spot in the midfield for Gerrard. He lacks the energy needed in the big matches and he does not influence games in the same way as the other Liverpool midfielders. He is no longer capable of those darting runs from Liverpool’s own box to the opposition box, which the Reds deeply miss. So no longer will the Liverpool fans get their wish of their hero winning the FA Cup on his last ever appearance for the club on his 35th birthday.

Villa to push on?

Since Tim Sherwood was appointed as manager of Aston Villa, the side look a completely different outfit. Sherwood seems to have restored confidence in a previously struggling Villa side. With five wins, one draw and four losses in his first 10 games as Villa manager, things seem to be improving for a side that once could hardly create a chance. With the likes of Benteke, Delph and Grealish in decent form at the moment, there are positive signs that they can push on in the last few matches of the season and keep this momentum moving into next season. There is a clear attacking philosophy that Sherwood has got going at Villa and it is essential that the team carry on playing in the same way. They must play to their strengths and there is no denying that they have quality going forward. If they continue to play on the front foot, they will cause plenty of teams trouble and there is no reason why they should not be pushing on in the table, instead of struggling to remain in the top flight.

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