“Poor”, “one-man publicity machine” — Newspapers react to Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa

It’s the morning after that dreadful sinking feeling that three points were completely squandered as Liverpool went down 1-0 to Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 13, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers looks dejected against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Sunday back pages aren’t letting Brendan Rodgers’ side get away with what was ultimately a damp squib of a performance.

Bar an early ambitious volley from Lazar Markovic, making his home debut for the Reds, Liverpool’s defensive frailties lead to them trailing after just eight minutes.

Gabriel Agbonlahor’s messy goal should have been avoided, but proved to be the winner with a dreary Liverpool performance to follow.

It was a damp squib of a game from the home side, being forced to play a very deep game on negative, perhaps too patient football.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 13, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli in action against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mail On Sunday‘s Joe Bernstein had some words of criticism for one particular home debutant and an advert that was allowed to fly over the ground at kick-off:

Even though £25m England midfielder Adam Lallana and Manchester United reject Tom Cleverley were making club debuts, one-man publicity machine Balotelli was predictably the centre of attention.

Super Mario’s name was cheered louder than anyone else’s and a Liverpool lap-dancing club hired a plane to fly overhead and advertise their wares. Being photographed outside such an establishment was one of Balotelli’s many misdemeanours during his eventful spell at Manchester City.

Paul Wilson of The Observer believes Liverpool’s anonymous start was ultimately costly, and it could have been worse:

Liverpool started quite poorly, particularly in defence, and were a goal down after eight minutes. First, Mamadou Sakho allowed Gabriel Agbonlahor to claim a ball that should never have been his and was forced to concede an unnecessary corner, and a blocked Philippe Senderos header from Ashley Westwood’s cross stood up invitingly for Agbonlahor to poke into the bottom corner. Managers are never impressed when goals are conceded at set pieces and Liverpool were lucky not to give away another one four minutes later, when Senderos found space to get on the end of a Westwood free-kick but headed too high.

Liverpool found themselves struggling to find a way through a tight defence, with Villa’s game plan working perfectly in much the same way Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea came to “park the bus” near the end of last season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 13, 2014: Liverpool's Adam Lallana in action against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Chris Bascombe of the Sunday Telegraph sums up the lack of ideas Rodgers’ side has when they haven’t taken their casual early lead:

By the time Liverpool found any rhythm they were faced with roadblocks at every turn. Only when Sterling was summoned on the hour was there a brief surge of belief, but it was short-lived.

The sense of desperation was palpable by the time Rodgers sent on Fabio Borini – a player he warned would get any game time two weeks ago – in a doomed salvage act. Coutinho struck the post, but there was no sustained pressure on Guzan.

The defensive performance from Liverpool was worrying, the new-look back four seemingly yet to find a cohesive stride.

The Independent on Sunday‘s Tim Rich briefly describes a couple of the problems on show on Saturday:

Liverpool’s back four seemed to offer greater cause for Rodgers’ concern. They were shaky and indecisive. Commentating from the stands, Jimmy Case, one of Anfield’s immortals, thought the way Mamadou Sakho allowed the ball to go out for the corner that led to Villa taking the leas was “incompetent”. When Senderos was allowed a free header from a free-kick, the stadium seethed with anxiety.

Liverpool will need a quick reaction to Saturday’s performance with the Champions League opener against Bulgrarian side Ludogorets on Tuesday night.

What were your positives and negatives from Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa Villa on Saturday? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.