Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted he did not expect Aston Villa to win at Anfield, in Saturday's Premier League fixture. The travelling Villans came to the Merseyside club teetering on the edge of the relegation zone and with only one league win from the last six games.
However, Paul Lambert's side left Anfield with all three points, after an inspired showing by the Birmingham club's young Belgian star Christian Benteke. The 22 year old striker scored twice and set up strike partner Andreas Weimann in between, with a sumptuous back heel inside the Reds' penalty box, to absolutely rout an in-form Liverpool.
"It was a bad day at the office," the former Swansea City manager said after the game, adding, "We're very disappointed and, I've got to be honest, I didn't see that coming. Our momentum and confidence coming into the game was as high as it's been. We had chances early on and didn't take them. We could easily have been 3-0 up in the game but we didn't make the final pass or have that big of quality in the top end of the field, and then we went on to concede some poor goals."
The win moves Villa to 14th and with Southampton (17th) not playing this weekend (their game against Chelsea has been postponed, as the reigning European champions are in Japan contesting the FIFA Club World Cup - check out an IBTimes UK preview of the game against Brazilian club Corinthians), Lambert will enjoy a healthy gap to the relegation zone before the next round of games.
"All week we've been talking about the possibility of top four but for us it's going to be steady progress. There are going to be steps forwards, like we've done in the last couple of weeks, and today we made a step backwards," the Northern Irishman added.
"The great hope with this group is that they are very honest. They're bitterly disappointed, we all are. But we'll go into next week's work, reflect on it, and make sure we come back next week and are bang on where we've been for a lot of the season," he concluded.
Liverpool now face Fulham (13th) on 22 December before travelling to Stoke City and QPR, to round off December and the Christmas fixtures. Rodgers will be particularly wary of the visit of Martin Jol's Cottagers - Fulham are only two points behind Liverpool and a second surprising defeat could see the Reds drop dangerously close to the relegation zone.