Virgil van Dijk has attempted to explain Liverpool’s performance in their 7-2 Premier League defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Liverpool suffered a humiliating 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa, one that inevitably puts a spotlight on Virgil van Dijk. He, after all, is the lynchpin of the defence.
Yet the defence was unable to hold Villa back as they produced wave after wave of attacks on the Liverpool goal. They scored seven but could have had at least two more.
So how did Van Dijk see it? Here’s what he said after the game, per Liverpoolfc.com.
“I felt the gaps were too high, the second-ball battles were lost many times,” he said. “I think the goals helped them a lot, gave them confidence and the chances we missed didn’t help us either. It’s a bit of both.
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“But what I said before, well done to Aston Villa.”
What RTK has to say
In honesty, he’s absolutely right, and the gaps were the biggest problem. Liverpool’s high line hurt them badly as they didn’t put pressure on balls over the top.
Villa targeted runs in behind Liverpool’s full-backs, pulling the central defenders about and creating those gaps. It was too easy. So easy, in fact, that every team will try it.
Leeds United had some success with a similar tactic at Anfield and it got them three goals. Villa, thanks to some fortuitous deflections, got seven. It’ll keep happening.
He’s also right about the confidence factor. Adrian gave Villa a goal just four minutes in. That immediately put them on the up. Joe Gomez then allowed Ollie Watkins to cut inside and grab his second – that grew confidence further.
Two other goals really swung the game, however. The third, which resulted from a massive deflection off Van Dijk, came right after Liverpool made it 2-1. That ended the Reds’ momentum and handed it back to Villa, who soon got a fourth.
Similarly, Ross Barkley’s deflected effort on 55 minutes ended any hopes of a comeback. Villa believed they could see it out, Liverpool doubted they could bring it back. Confidence played a huge part here.
So tactically, there are things to fix. But confidence and the timing of goals absolutely played a massive part. Hopefully, Liverpool can fix both when they meet Everton in two weeks.