By Peter Lynch

5th Sep, 2023 | 7:30am

Nicolo Zaniolo plays way into Aston Villa starting XI after impressive cameo v Liverpool

Aston Villa headed to Anfield on Sunday (3 September) in high spirits thanks to their four-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

But they were sent crashing back down to earth as early as the third minute against Liverpool, who went 1-0 up thanks to a superb strike from Dominik Szoboszlai.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors just 19 minutes later when full-back Matty Cash put the ball into his own net.

A third arrived courtesy of Mohamed Salah in the 55th minute, condemning Villa to their second defeat of the season after the opening day loss against Newcastle United.

There won’t be many reasons for Emery to smile after the defeat to the Reds, but there is certainly one in the form of summer signing Nicolo Zaniolo.

In just his second appearance for the club following his loan move from Galatasaray, the 24-year-old did more than his attacking teammates on the day, despite being handed just 25 minutes from the bench.

During that time, the Italian demonstrated his potential at both ends of the pitch, which would have delighted his manager on an otherwise miserable day at the office.

As per SofaScore, Zaniolo completed six out of his eight passes, won three out of his five duels, was successful with his one dribble attempt, and made one key pass.

Moreover, the attacker made two tackles, one interception and one clearance, faring much better than his fellow Aston Villa substitutes Youri Tielemans and Jhon Duran in this regard.

Just one tackle was made between the duo, courtesy of midfield man Tielemans, with zero interceptions and clearances, although they did feature for just 18 minutes and 17 minutes respectively.

This could see Zaniolo force his way into the starting line-up once the international break is over.

In other Aston Villa news, player ratings have emerged from the disappointing 3-0 loss against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side.