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Fortress Anfield becomes holiday Villa
ESPN staffDecember 15, 2012
Aston Villa were totally at home against Liverpool © Getty Images
Fortress Anfield becomes holiday VillaAston Villa were quite simply fantastic against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, turning what was once the most feared ground in Europe into a more-than-hospitable home for the day. At 3-0, thanks to goals from Christian Benteke (2) and Andreas Weimann, Villa were on course to equal Liverpool's heaviest home beating in Premier League history. Steven Gerrard's late consolation denied them that, but it was still a ginormous result for the youngest Villa side fielded in the Premier League.
How the Reds would love to boast household names such as Chris Herd, Eric Lichaj and Nathan Baker.
Top KopLiverpool fans have had little to cheer this season and even less so against Villa, as they watched their team lose heavily to a relegation threatened outfit. But the Kop still covered itself in glory when the time came for Villa to deliver their customary tribute to Stiliyan Petrov. To a man, the famous stand rose to acknowledge Petrov, who is fighting leukaemia.
Serg-ing startIt would be fair to say Newcastle were a beaten side from the 10th minute onwards against Manchester City. As the visitors walked through the Magpies for the opening goal, Alan Pardew would have had a face longer than his contract when he saw Sergio Aguero tap the ball home. In the previous 20 Premier League games that Aguero had scored for Man City, his team had won 19 and drawn the other.
Early gift from Sant-onWhat a marvellous piece of finishing this was by Davide Santon. Taking up a position at the back post, he was placed perfectly to latch onto Javi Garcia's header. Still there was plenty to do for the Newcastle man, but in a moment to make Djimi Traore proud, Santon swung to clear with his right boot before turning the ball into the net with his standing leg. Instinctive strike to give Man City a 2-0 lead.
Oh dear oh dear O'SheaSometimes you wonder if Sir Alex Ferguson sells players just to plant them as allies in opposition line-ups. With the score at 0-0 between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford, the ball was played into the Black Cats' box by Ashley Young. John O'Shea, former Red Devil, feigned an effort at clearing the ball but actually opened the door for Robin van Persie to score. Clearly Fraizer Campbell missed the memo after his late strike against his old side.
Flawed FellainiEverton fans should not expect to see Marouane Fellaini in their next three games, after he appeared to aim a blatant headbutt at Ryan Shawcross - totally missed by ref Mark Halsey. If the FA acts retrospectively, Fellaini will miss three games over the Christmas period, which may have been his plan all along.
Terrific TaarabtGoal of the day surely came from Adel Taarabt, QPR's match-winner (how often do you get to say that?) against Fulham. Taarabt advanced towards the edge of the area, where he pulled out a FIFA-like drag to beat a defender, before arcing a glorious outside-of-the-boot finish inside the far post. If QPR hadn't won on Saturday they would have been the first top-flight team not to win any of their opening 17 games since Bolton in 1902-03.
To think Harry Redknapp once sold Taarabt at Spurs.