Liverpool should change their reported transfer plans on the back of one moment against Aston Villa. That might sound knee-jerk but likely the reality.
The moment is a fairly obvious one. Late in the first-half, Aston Villa found a pass in behind Rhys Williams. Williams, who had pushed up in line with Liverpool’s defence, found himself chasing Louie Barry.
Barry composed himself to score an equaliser, with a goal that was not a good look for Liverpool.
Williams was far too flat with the backline and there just wasn’t enough pace in defence to counter that. It was, undoubtedly, a mistake from the 19-year-old.
And that’s okay! Williams is a young defender and he will make mistakes. He can’t possibly be perfect and his positioning will be offer at times.
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It was against Atalanta a few months ago, too. Williams failed to mark his man properly and Liverpool conceded to the Italians.
As we’ve seen since, he’s capable of playing very well. But as with all teenage defenders, he’s got a mistake in him.
What really stands out about the Villa goal, then, is how the Reds are at the mercy of those mistakes.
Fabinho isn’t going to offer too much help to a young defender. He just doesn’t have the instincts for it.
Why would he? Fabinho had never played the position before this season and you won’t develop them over a few months.
Thus when Williams stood up too high, Fabinho didn’t notice and drop back, either. That’s no slight on the Brazilian but it is the difference between having him back there and Virgil van Dijk.
Van Dijk, unquestionably, sees it and drops back. He is the world’s best ‘help defender’ and he corrects, covers and commands the rest of his defensive teammates.
Thus if Williams were making mistakes like this alongside an experienced, elite defender, it would be different. We may not even notice they’re happening half the time.
But with Liverpool already depleted, it makes more sense to have Fabinho playing alongside someone less error-prone.
The Reds reportedly have no plans to sign anyone this month, per the Athletic. If that’s true, they’ll rely on luck to win trophies this season.
They’ll have to hope that teams don’t take advantage of mistakes or that Joel Matip can put a string of games together.
Either way, it feels unlikely.
This goal against Villa, as small a sample as it is, should change the transfer plans at Liverpool. Liverpool feel one piece away from another trophy-winning squad and the Reds should perhaps just go and get it.