Liverpool suffered one of the worst defeats in their history as Aston Villa beat them 7-2 at Villa Park. Here are five things we learned from that mess.
Errors, errors, errors
Another Premier League game, another awful mistake to kick us off. This time it was Adrian who presented the opposition with a goal – and it was probably the worst error we’ve seen thus far.
Virgil van Dijk’s was poor against Leeds United and Andy Robertson’s worse against Arsenal. But at least they just failed to pull off what they were trying. Adrian shouldn’t even have attempted his pass.
Joe Gomez wasn’t in position and there was too much pressure on the ball in the area. Get rid. It was a bad idea, executed woefully.
But as we say, this is becoming a very concerning pattern. Adrian isn’t the first to make an error and he wasn’t even the only one in this game.
Where was the pressing?
Villa had a fairly easy go of getting the ball in behind. Ahead of their third, for example, the full-back simply waited for runs in behind before floating one over the top.
That shouldn’t happen. Liverpool should be pressing to stop those passes over the top or playing the high line won’t work. That’s the usual Liverpool, anyway, and why the defence is a strong one.
But when you don’t press, it’s far to easy for players to play it long into space in behind the defence. It’s basic stuff but Liverpool simply weren’t doing it today.
Willingness to change
We saw it in the Community Shield and we saw it again here. When things are going badly, Jurgen Klopp is willing to switch the system. And much like at Wembley, it was from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1.
Liverpool were 4-1 down at half-time to Aston Villa and Klopp decided to bring on Takumi Minamino for Naby Keita. That switch gave the team four attackers – something we rarely saw in the previous campaign.
But then, Klopp rarely had as much reason to change last season. Things went so well that he was able to stick with 4-3-3 all year. But the first-half at Villa Park wasn’t exactly reminiscent of last season.
Still, it seems that we might see players move around more when things don’t go to plan this year.
Knowing the problem
Make no mistake – the defence is the problem. The attack is functioning very well, in fact – even in this game.
Liverpool created chances and scored a couple of very good goals. Their movement was fine and Mohamed Salah’s finishing faultless. Even Roberto Firmino, who didn’t play well, created the second with a very good pass.
And this was without Sadio Mane on the pitch.
But Liverpool have now conceded 12 goals already in the Premier League. They didn’t match that until November 30th last season – their 14th game. For comparison, they have scored their 11 goals in exactly the same number of games it took last year (although, they did add a 12th in their fourth last year).
Liverpool desperately need to improve and it’s abundantly clear how.
That we can’t pick a fifth
We could pick out several individual performances for this one. We could point out that the team appeared to just give up defensively. Or that they didn’t adjust and kept letting Aston Villa do the same thing over and over again to get in behind.
We’ve got Everton next. To say things need to improve ahead of that is a gross understatement. This was an embarrassment, one of the worst performances in Liverpool’s history, and only Salah can walk off the pitch with anything positive to say.
Again, Everton are next. Liverpool need to make sure everything about this 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa was a one-off.