Jamie Carragher was sure to point out how active both Jurgen Klopp and Steven Gerrard were on the touchline tonight. The two managers battled at Villa Park.
Liverpool went to face Aston Villa on Tuesday afternoon in a game that got off to a flyer. Villa had a 1-0 lead within three minutes – a massive dent for the Reds as they try to pile pressure on Manchester City.
However, they answered that just two minutes later as Joel Matip stabbed home. The Reds were level and it was immediately clear that this wouldn’t be a routine game.
Villa fully intended to press Liverpool high with two centre-forwards, with Steven Gerrard lining up with a diamond midfield. They were pressing, pushing and harrying the Reds’ defenders in attempt to win the ball back and, importantly, prevent Liverpool from building anything.
Jurgen Klopp, of course, had exactly the same plan but a tired-looking Liverpool weren’t at their best. It led to a first half-hour where neither side really got their foot on the ball.
And that’s something Jamie Carragher noticed. He pointed out on commentary for Sky Sports that neither manager liked what they were seeing – they wanted to be even more aggressive.
Steven Gerrard and Jurgen Klopp
“Just interesting looking at both benches,” said Carragher. “Jurgen Klopp remonstrating and just before that Gerrard the same.
“Gerrard was urging his two centre-backs to get higher up the pitch. It’s been far too easy for both teams to play through the opposition.”
Both teams had such pace and direct running in behind that they were each overly cautious in stepping up. The fact that Gerrard wanted his side to play a high line against Liverpool was brave – very few teams do. Only really Manchester City, in fact.
These were two teams who weren’t quite clicking to perfection, though. Villa aren’t quite advanced enough in their progression to flawlessly play a high-press against Liverpool. The Reds just weren’t quite at their best – this is a tired, rotated side as Klopp battled fixture congestion.
What’s clear is that next season, Liverpool vs Villa should be a fantastic game with two sides playing better football.