The history books will record this as an Aston Villa side that despatched the current European Champions 5-0 in the Carabao Cup.
Whilst the context of Liverpool fielding one of their most inexperienced sides in history will likely be lost in time, this disciplined Villa result hopefully won’t be.
For Liverpool, their focus was on a World Club Cup and a first Premier League title.
This was reflected in a visting squad without a recognisable name amongst it. Indeed, there were just 16 appearances in senior football recorded amongst Liverpool’s ranks.
Villa too wisely opted to rest key figures, making ten changes on our previous outing at Bramall Lane.
McGinn reportedly carrying an injury and Grealish weren’t risked.
Heaton, Engels, Guilbert, Nakamba, Targett and El Ghazi were given the night off.
This was an opportunity for fringe faces to catch the eye ahead of what is a vital festive period of fixtures. Lansbury, the competitions highest assist contributor got the nod despite an underwhelming showing in the 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United.
Jonathan Kodjia, repeatedly overlooked despite the struggles of Brazilian Wesley, started.
Liverpool’s youngsters started brightly, buoyed by 5000 travelling supporters. They were sharp and purposeful in the opening quarter, forcing Nyland into a smart stop and briefly suggesting the evening might not be as straightforward as anticipated.
However, Villa soon took the initiative and ruthless advantage of the visitors naivity.
Hourihane saw a rifled free-kick, come cross, wrong foot Kelleher in goal. 1-0. Minutes later Elmohamady’s wide ball resulted in a wicked deflection looping over the keeper to make it 2-0.
The young heads visibly dipped.
Kodjia, fed a dangerous ball by Spaniard Jota, made it three after the half hour mark. The former Bristol City man then secured a second (Villa’s fourth) before the break, slotting home from an Elmohamady cross.
The half-time whistle was a reprieve for the inexperienced opposition, with the cup-tie undoubtedly settled and freezing fog descending on B6.
The second half, a non-event, did though feature a couple of noteworthy positives.
James Chester came through the game unscathed, before being swapped for Hause on 77 minutes. The Welsh international’s rehabilitation is now complete and a standing ovation from all corners of Villa Park served to illustrate an appreciation for the part he played in our return to the top flight.
With the game playing out in almost a training ground fashion, Smith astutely opted to do some further rehab, this time introducing the confidence sapped Wesley.
The newly capped Brazilian international ran onto a through ball during injury time, finishing smartly to secure his first goal since October and Villa’s fifth.
This was a professional, ruthless performance to see Villa through to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup. That’s the big-ticket outcome we should take, representing our only feasible shot at silverware.
However, it would be misleading to suggest that much can be taken or judged from this encounter for individuals or the wider collective.
Villa 5-0 Liverpool
Villa overcome Liverpool 5-0 in the Carabao Cup, defeating a young opposition, to reach the semi-finals against Leicester City.