After 5-0 Thrashing of Villa, Liverpool Put Pressure on United

Danny StewartContributor IMarch 23, 2009

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 22:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's fifth goal to secure his hat trick during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on March 22, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

A Steven Gerrard-inspired Liverpool cruised into second place in the Premier League yesterday afternoon, as the Reds thrashed Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa 5-0 at a jam-packed Anfield.

After superlative wins over Real Madrid (4-0) and Manchester United (4-1) in the previous seven days, Liverpool were also buoyed by the return from injury of Spanish duo Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso.

As was the case against both Madrid and United, Liverpool came flying out of the blocks—determined to exercise their authority over a side who, until barely three weeks ago, seemed dead certs to nail their place in next season Champions League.

But what is both surprising and refreshing about watching Liverpool play at present, is that they seem utterly fearless whoever the opposition. They are playing with such a conviction that those who dream to dare actually believe that the elusive "19th" could well be on it's way to Anfield—with a little help from some friends (if you'll pardon the Beatles pun).

But right now, this is about a Reds side full of confidence. Belief, character, and a fearsome will to win are driving this side forward. You get the impression that if Liverpool step up another gear, someone will really get a pummelling.

But 5-0 will do for now, as goals from Dirk Kuyt, Albert Riera, and a hat trick from the brilliant Steven Gerrard ensured that the pressure is now all on our friends from the end of the East Lancs Road.

With Aston Villa next up at Old Trafford, and Liverpool away to United's conquerors Fulham, there could yet be more twists and turns in this enthralling and captivating title race.

With Rafa Benitez now on the coat tails of his Scottish counterpart, and the Reds seemingly hitting form at just the right time, this will be the true test of character for the Red Devils of Manchester.

Will they be able to cope with this resurgent and energetic Liverpool side?

Mr Ferguson, it's over to you.