Liverpool defeat Aston Villa (c) Liverpool Twitter

3 talking points as Liverpool seal a dramatic win over Aston Villa

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ALEXANDER-ARNOLD SENDS SOUTHGATE A MESSAGE WITH HIS LATE GOAL

It’s probably safe to say that Trent Alexander-Arnold hasn’t been in the best form as of late. The 22-year old Liverpool right-back was left out of Gareth Southgate’s most recent England squad. And earlier this week, he had an absolute stinker as the Reds fell to a Champions League defeat against Real Madrid. However, with Southgate in attendance today, Alexander-Arnold produced one of his best performances in some time.

It was clear that part of Aston Villa’s game plan was to target the young defender, but Trezeguet and Ollie Watkins didn’t have much success against him. The England defender completed three of his five tackles successfully – the most of any Liverpool player. Alexander-Arnold contributed going forward, too, with a 75% pass success rate and three key passes. And of course, with added time ticking away, it was Alexander-Arnold who found the winner.
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 ASTON VILLA NEED JACK GREALISH BACK 

After last weekend’s come-from-behind win over Fulham, hopes were high for a strong showing from Aston Villa. Sure, they were never likely to replicate October’s 7-2 win over Liverpool, but the Fulham result gave them confidence, and Jack Grealish was seemingly set to return to action.

However, when it was announced that Grealish would again miss out due to his ongoing shin injury, Dean Smith’s side saw their hopes fade away somewhat. And indeed, this was not a good showing from Villa from an attacking perspective, despite taking the lead through Ollie Watkins.

Watkins plugged away as Villa’s attacking focal point, but once again, chances for him were few and far between. Simply put, Smith’s men just didn’t create enough for him. Bertrand Traore was poor on the right side, Trezeguet worked hard on the left but lacked quality, and John McGinn just isn’t a creative playmaker.

In the end, the visitor’s came away from the game with just nine shots overall, five of which were on target. Against a defence as ropy-looking as Liverpool’s right now, it just wasn’t good enough. Aston Villa should finish in a comfortable mid-table position and should be happy with their progress, but they still look shorn of creativity without Grealish.