Paul Tomkins, Andrew Beasley, Daniel Rhodes and other TTT regulars will give their thoughts on the match for 24 hours after the game, so the article received via email is unlikely to be the final version. There's statistics from the match and videos too.
Villa announcer: "Liverpool sub, Stefan Bajčetić."
Villa fans: "Who?"
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: "The lad who's gonna take the piss".
With Luis Díaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino injured, Liverpool had half their main attacking players absent, in addition to the injuries and absentees elsewhere. It meant turning to kids from the bench – but what kids they are.
In the end, the Reds steadied a rocking second-half ship with subs, possession and the mad running of Darwin Dickens Núñez, a chaos machine from the future who had a big hand in the goal that killed the game.
Liverpool finished the match in fine shape, with three teenagers running the show.
I had hoped that the fast and frenetic cup tie against Manchester City, after two high-standard friendlies, would see Liverpool a bit less rusty than after previous layoffs. But the injuries were never going to make it easy.
For balance, pace and power, Liverpool ideally need Ibrahima Konaté and Díaz, as well as Jota.
Núñez provides that pacy, hard-running too, and the lovely thing about Bajčetić and the even younger Ben Doak is that they have pace and energy, and play with a real confidence. Doak is a flying machine. This season, it's often been the older players who've been fit, but it does need those young legs to freshen it up, where possible.
The remaining two-thirds of the league season are likely to see the teams with lots of World Cup players looking sharp right now (as they're in a match-sharp state), but hit a wall by March, when the toll of the frequent games before, during and after Qatar could take their toll.
Perhaps Man City have the ability to rotate so much that they can ride it out. But the Reds aren't really in the title mix; top four rivals Spurs, Man United and Chelsea are the ones needed to slip up. And Spurs, despite getting it back to 2-2, still only got a point at Brentford.
Liverpool have easier games on paper in the second "half" of the season – which is actually 24 games; 23 after today.
It was an experienced Liverpool side, but one that had more energy, for various reasons, than earlier in the campaign. I'll pick out a few players who stood out for me.
The majority of my analysis and that of the others follows for subscribers only.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Tomkins Times - Main Hub to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.