“Aquilani did well against Wolves, but he needs match fitness. He was trying to be involved, passing and creating chances, but the Premier League is difficult and he will settle down little by little.” – Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard’s lukewarm appraisal of Aquilani’s performance against Wolves on Saturday was decidedly accurate as the Â£20million summer signing from Roma finally made his first Premier League start in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Wolves.
Playing in a classic central-midfield role, Aquilani spent most of the game either collecting possession off the Reds’ backline or picking up the ball in the centre of the pitch, with the Italian seemingly content with keeping the ball rolling. On several occasions Aquilani, a player who plays with his head permanently up, looked to burst into attacking positions for the Merseysiders, but when in the final third “AA” dodged responsibility of trying to create any solo opportunities, instead opting to shift the ball sideways for his teammates to carry on the attack.
A distinct lack of match fitness was also apparent by a collection of wayward passes and poor first touches by Aquilani.
All in all it was a better than average performance for Liverpool’s Italian, but the Kop will surely be hoping that better performances will come in the second half of the season.
Individual match highlights of Alberto Aquilani’s performance against Wolves can be seen here.