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Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 15:15 UK

Lee Dixon's tactical view

Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
Match of the Day 2 pundit

I was intrigued to see Robbie Keane in action for Liverpool after moving for such a huge transfer fee in the summer.

At Tottenham he was such a big influence on their team and enjoyed a good partnership with Dimitar Berbatov.

Robbie Keane had a frustrating day at Villa Park
He just does not seem to be completely happy with his football

Lee Dixon on Robbie Keane
Keane scored 23 goals last season and many of them came from his link play with Berbatov.

Could he strike up as good a partnership with Fernando Torres?

But when the teams lined-up he was on the left wing in a five-man midfield.

As a former full-back, if I was playing against Keane and he was stuck out on the left-wing against me I would be really pleased.

He is a lot more dangerous in and around the centre forward in front of goal, so you want him as far away from those areas as possible.

Keane started on the left side but he clearly does not want to play there, so he tends to get the ball and cut inside.

But then he offloads it and he is so keen to get the ball that he goes searching for it. His natural inclination takes him to the middle of the pitch or even the right side.

If he is playing in the hole that is fine because he is not vacating anywhere, but when he is supposed to be out wide that means he leaves a huge gap on Liverpool's left side.

On two or three occasions we had the situation where Xabi Alonso looked to play the ball out to the left and there was nobody there.

Keane's presence in the centre made it so tight in that area in front of goal.

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They had a situation where six Liverpool players were so close to each other. With Villa players in there as well it is so crowded and easier to defend.

Ironically, it was after Torres got injured that Keane began to affect the game.

David Ngog came on as substitute for Torres and Keane was moved inside to his normal position in the hole where he is so difficult to mark.

That allowed Keane to play in and around the centre-forward and almost straight away he created a shooting chance for Ngog, only for him to fire over the bar.

Lucas moved to the left to provide an option there rather than a big hole.

We saw another goalscoring opportunity in the second half when Keane set up Alonso.

Keane even had an opportunity himself when he was played through the middle.

It was a great chance but he just did not look like scoring and there was a real indicator that he is short of confidence.

He had two looks over his shoulder before he had the shot that allowed Nigel Reo-Coker to get back and put him off.

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In that position you would expect Keane to get the ball down, run on and score the goal.

The Irishman just does not seem to be completely happy with his football and that reflects in the need for a goal to give him a boost.

From the very first minute of the game he looked like he did not want to be there.

He looked so much happier when he was in the hole. He did not have a great game but he still affected the play three or four times, whereas on the left he did not impact at all.

They spent the summer chasing Villa's Gareth Barry, but while he can play wide on the left he would realistically have simply taken the place of Alonso.

Signing Espanyol's Albert Riera could be the answer but they have tried using Ryan Babel there and Jermaine Pennant, but for whatever reason they have not worked.

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Liverpool have strength in the centre of midfield but the wide positions have been a problem area and they end up playing so narrow.

Rafa Benitez set his team out not to give anything away, they were without the drive of Steven Gerrard and they lost to Torres to injury.

So a draw at Villa is hardly a disaster and Benitez will probably be happy enough.

I just think he should have been a bit more adventurous.

Maybe it was a one off and Keane was just doing a job for the team.

I just do not see why you would pay over 20m for someone who scores goals and is so dangerous and then stick him out on the left wing.

Lee Dixon was talking to BBC Sport's Andrew McKenzie

see also
Aston Villa 0-0 Liverpool
31 Aug 08 |  Premier League
Benitez confident of Riera deal
01 Sep 08 |  Liverpool
Sunday's football photos
31 Aug 08 |  Football
Liverpool complete Keane transfer
28 Jul 08 |  Liverpool
Hero or zero?
29 Mar 08 |  Premier League
Lee Dixon's tactical view
26 Aug 08 |  Premier League
Lee Dixon's tactical view
18 Aug 08 |  Premier League

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