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Football News: Aston Villa v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective

Aston Villa v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective
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Aston Villa v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective

 


I know I said before this season started that it would be a very mixed up season and that there would be a lot of big shock results, but I never quite expected a day like this! Instead of being forewarned by Manchester United's hiding at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur, it was almost like they were trying to prove they could be even worse. It was abject by Liverpool, but, it has to be said, that was in large part because Villa were excellent and made Liverpool pay for their mistakes. On another day it is the Villa keeper that's mistake is punished and the game is completely different.

However, no matter what excuses you come up with (yes I am looking at you here Mr Souness), that was simply not good enough by Liverpool and brilliant by Villa. They made the Liverpool defence look like a Sunday League side that had just rolled out of the pub together and were still trying to sober up after an all nighter. All you can do is applaud Villa and ask questions of the Liverpool team.

 


Aston Villa

 

An exceptional performance masterminded by Dean Smith. I know there was a sizable section of the Villa support who did not think he was the right man to lead the club, he does not have the charisma to win people over easily, but since Project Restart his Villa side have been playing really well. Smith is showing that he is more than just another half-decent coach off the Brentford production line, he also has good tactical acumen and has brought in players that suit the way he wants to play.

Now the key for him will be to deal with the counter-moves. Teams will start setting up to counter what Smith is doing, rather than just playing their own game and that is when we will find out if he is truly top level. This exceptional performance by his team will have made others sit up and take notice, can he continue to achieve results when opponents come with a plan to nullify Villa? Only time will tell on that.

Right now Smith, and his entire team, can just bask in the moment and enjoy the international break for a few days before getting back to business. That performance has set a ridiculously high bar for the rest of the season, one that will be nearly impossible to replicate, but that is where they have to aim. They were superb and they have to look to keep playing as close to this level as they can the rest of the season. Then they will have no relegation fight and will be looking at a top half finish and above. With a season that is this mixed up, there is no reason to not aim high.

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - I am not going to fault his tactics, that was not the issue last night, it was the players implementation of the game plan that failed miserably. However, there has been clear signs of complacency creeping into van Dijk's game for months now and that has not been dealt with, that is something Klopp should be dealing with. Added to that, his insistence on picking the utterly hopeless Keita time and time again is a huge error. The biggest problem is that Klopp will have very little time to work on the glaring issues staring him in the face due to the international break.

 

Adrian - made a bad error early on that was punished but also pulled off a few good saves to keep the score down from what could have been an embarrassment on biblical proportions. You have to feel sorry for him on the deflections, 9 times out of 10 those deflections will not end up in the back of the net like that, but he saw them deflect in so many times he must wonder if he ran over a black cat on his way to the ground! The team need to stop acting like he is Alisson and adjust their play to work with him, rather than putting him in situations he should not be in.

 

Alexander-Arnold - most of the attacks came in the space he leaves behind him, but that is a consequence of the way he plays, so I would not blame him for that. He got up and down the pitch well, but his game was off. He looks like a player searching for his form after a long lay-off. I think the lack of a proper pre-season is affecting him. He does still present real danger with his balls into the box, it is just that he never really got enough of the ball in the right areas. Defensively he showed a few misjudgements. It was not a good day for him, though I do think he would have every right to question the midfield, who did not do enough to protect the spaces behind him or to feed him the ball enough.

 

Gomez - had a stinker of a game but received no protection from midfield or help from his partner alongside him. There were a number of times he made to drop off, or had dropped off, only to notice van Dijk was holding a line so he had to push up too. He was often left to deal with too many attackers with little help. Yes it was a bad game, but Gomez is not the only culprit here.

 

van Dijk - definitely his worst game in a Liverpool shirt. Complacency, arrogance, lack of leadership, he displayed them all. The refusal to take any notice of what was happening in front of him and drop off when there was no pressure on the ball was, quite frankly, baffling. Instead of concentrating on doing his job correctly and doing the basics right, as the game went on he took to chasing the ball. It is very worrying how far off his best he was and has been repeatedly for a long time now. It is time for him to go back to basics and just concentrate on being a defender.

 

Robertson - he was one of the biggest threats all game, though he was not at his best defensively. One of very few who can hold their heads up after that game as he turned up and played well.

 

Keita - from the early moments, when he received a throw in midway inside the opposition half and weakly surrendered it, he was utterly abysmal. It was worse than having ten men on the pitch as he was a hindrance to the play. Defensively he is hopeless and on the ball he is not much better. Usually he just gives the ball away. Once again he was shown up by a young lad who came on as a sub and had offered more to the team within the first few minutes of getting on the pitch. It is time to accept Keita is not the answer and be thankful Thiago could well be.

 

Fabinho - found himself overrun in midfield and was not much better in defence. He was simply not at the races and struggled to cope with the pace and movement of Villa. It did not help that the two alongside him in midfield were so bad.

 

Wijnaldum - he was awful, not as bad as Keita but nowhere near the level he can play. Offered no protection to the defence and little help going forward. Like the rest of the midfield, he was non-existent in the press. A bad day for him.

 

Salah - he definitely did turn up and played well. He offered more protection to the back four than the entire midfield put together with his working back! That result could have been so much worse without him on the pitch, and not just because he scored both of Liverpool's goals. Salah was an ever-present threat and the only real outball a lot of the time, if only the passes had been better.

 

Firmino - another who had a bad day at the office. He should have made Martinez pay for his error but passed up the opportunity to shoot. He has yet to get going this season, but he has always been a slow starter, so it is not time to worry yet.

 

Jota - worked hard and kept making the runs but has little understanding of the team yet. Quite often he was making the same runs as other players and they were getting in each other's way. There were a lot of promising signs and he never stopped, always looking a threat.

 

Minamino - came on to replace Keita at half-time. You can never fault his workrate or attitude, but he never seemed to understand what he was meant to be doing or where he was meant to be playing. He ended up just running round like a headless chicken achieving little.

 

Jones - was brought on in the 61st minute and replaced Gomez. It was amazing how much better he looked in midfield than those who had started the match. It is also impressive how he can achieve more in just a few moments than Keita has managed in his entire Liverpool career. He looks ready to be a starter.

 

Milner - took Firmino's place after 68 minutes. Probably should have started but coming on at 6-2 left him with little hope of making a meaningful impression on the game. At least he settled things down and actually provided some protection to the defence.

Written by Tris Burke October 05 2020 13:12:00

 

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