Three things we learned from Liverpool's win against Aston Villa

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A Daniel Sturridge double gave Liverpool their first win in five Premier League matches against Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.

There was a significant amount of pressure on Reds' boss Brendan Rodgers in the build-up to the match following mid-weeks penalty shoot-out victory over League Two side Carlisle United in the Capital One Cup but the Kop was once again cheering with a victory against Villa.

The win means Liverpool have went into the top-half of the table and there were several things learned from the performance.


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Sturridge Knows Where The Net Is

It was a massive surprise that Sturridge was given a start in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Norwich.

The 26-year-old has not kicked a ball for over five months yet Rodgers immediately put him in from the first whistle. 

Sturridge's performance was far from inspiring against the Canaries; however, he was much improved versus Villa.

The former Chelsea striker still showed signs that he is well off his best. His lack of fitness in the first-half took it's toll, and both his movement and touch were not the same as they have been at the heights of his talent.

Nonetheless, his class prevailed in the end.

His afternoon may not have been the greatest on the eye and he did look fatigued on numerous occasions, but he made his appearance count.

In an instant Sturridge went from zero to hero. 

Fans wanted him off the pitch as he was not doing enough - they were soon silenced.

He took his first goal superbly when playing a one-two with James Milner and fired his volley in front of the Kop to score for the first time since March. 

Home supporters were delighted with his strike and it was a finish based on instinct and knowing where the goal was.

Sturridge's second wasn't bad either after again playing a quick pass-and-move with Philippe Coutinho to leave Brad Guzan stranded and wrap the three points up for Liverpool.

Sturridge will still know that he is a long way from returning to his best but two goals will have given him an incredible amount of confidence. 

Milner Proves A Point

When Liverpool announced the signing of James Milner from Manchester City in the summer there was no disappointing reaction from any Kopite.

Milner was flooded with a wealth of experience and won the league twice at the Citizens, and he was expected to replace Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park.

The former Leeds United man's career at Anfield hadn't been the most inspiring prior to the Villa match.

Whereas many expected Milner, who was handed the vice-captaincy just weeks after joined Liverpool, to be an inspirational figure in the heart of the midfielder, he had flattered to deceive.

His performances against Norwich and Carlisle were not good enough overall.

The 29-year-old did not influence both matches like he was expected and some pondered whether he was entering the twilight years of his career.

However, he soon hit back at critics and was arguably Liverpool's man of the match against his former club Villa. 

Milner gave the Reds the lead inside the two-minute mark, showing good control and firing his effort accurately in the corner.

What would have pleased fans is that Milner celebrated after scoring against his former side.

There was no signs of sentiment from the Yorkshireman and displayed he is fully committed to the Liver bird on his chest, and that he wants to succeed at Anfield.

Milner's ball to find Sturridge in the second-half for Liverpool's second was also admirable, and his overall performance was top-class.

He was full of energy from the first to the final whistle and used the ball with much better intent that he has done in previous games. 

He was unlucky not to grab a brace but for a fine stop from Guzan.

Milner was full of ideas on the ball and got his positioning spot on 99% of the time in the match and he should have gained plenty of confidence from his performance.

Pressure Still On Rodgers

Three points was the absolute minimum needed for Rodgers given the recent results Liverpool have suffered.

It was pleasing to see the Reds score three times as their form in front of goal was worrying.

However, Rodgers' position as Liverpool manager is far from secure.

Whereas Liverpool did find the next three times, they still conceded twice against a Villa team who have been struggling massively this season.

Rodgers opted for a 3-5-2 formation, playing Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne as wing-backs.

This is a system the team know well but it has it frailties and a permanent formation must be put in place. 

Just days ago supporters were shouting for the Northern Irishman's head on a stick and that attitude amongst many still will remain the same.

This was Liverpool's first win in five leagues games.

Out of a possible 15 points, they've grabbed just five and there still needs to be big improvements. 

The Reds displayed that they are not tidy at the back - Emre Can lost Ruddy Gestede far too easily for the Villa strikers first and the ongoing problem of conceding soft goals still remains.

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Aston Villa
Premier League
James Milner
Daniel Sturridge
Brendan Rodgers

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