Embarrassing, atrocious, inept, lacklustre and sickening. These words best describe the display produced by Liverpool on Sunday evening. Many fans will have been looking at this fixture as the perfect appetiser before the Merseyside derby in a fortnights time. It couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Klopp’s side were made to look foolish from the first to the last minute. Every player who took to the field looked completely out of their depth and bewildered every time they touched the ball. Players seemed to forget the simple aspects of the game making silly mistakes on a consistent basis.
It has been an almighty fall from the lofty heights of Monday evening’s imperious performance against the Gunners. This showing was the complete polar opposite and one, many players will be looking to make amends for immediately after the international break.
Klopp made two changes from the side that defeated Arsenal on Monday. With Sadio Mané self-isolating after his positive coronavirus test during the week, Diogo Jota came in for his full Premier League debut for the Reds. Adrián was also installed into the starting line-up after a training injury to first choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker (shoulder).
Here are my winners and losers from the game:
WinnersEmbed from Getty Images
No player can be deemed a “winner” after that result……
AdriánEmbed from Getty Images
After a promising introduction to his Anfield career at the start of last season, many fans thought Klopp had finally found his perfect number two to Alisson. 14 months later the Spanish goalkeeper is on borrowed time and wondering if he has a future at Anfield. Consistent costly mistakes have hindered him whenever he has been called upon. Most notably his errors in the Champions League and FA Cup last season. This performance against Aston Villa is up there with the worst.
The moment he gave possession away in the opening five minutes, you knew trouble was brewing. That mistake gave Villa the lead providing Ollie Watkins with his first goal in the Premier League. From then the side from Birmingham didn’t look back, now praying on the insecurities of the stand in goalkeeper. This proved successful throughout the game as every player in claret and blue looked like they would put themselves on the scoresheet.
Adrián’s biggest problem is his distribution. His passing ability is extremely weak and, on several occasions, struggled to make a simple five-yard pass to his own teammate. This inability to knock the ball about severely constricts what the side are trying to do tactically. With his wayward distribution, Liverpool’s players are usually on the back foot defending when they should be moving up the pitch.
There is no confidence that he can guide the Reds safely through a fixture anymore. The significant drop of quality from Alisson to Adrián must be one of the greatest in world football. With the Brazilian now picking up injuries, it is imperative as ever that the Spanish goalkeeper stands up and performs. Unfortunately, it produces the same outcome nearly every time and many cannot see him being at Anfield for much longer.
Joe GomezEmbed from Getty Images
What an awful evening for the England international. It is fair to say Gomez hasn’t been at his best since the return of the Premier League. However, this performance stood head and shoulders above all the others as his worst. After the extremely impressive display he had against Arsenal in his last showing, many thought it was the turning point in his return to form. On Sunday it went the other way.
His positioning was all over the place, consistently losing Watkins whilst being out of position a ridiculous amount of times. His defensive ability was non-existent as every Villa player breezed past him to begin their final onslaught towards the Reds goal. Van Dijk had to take control of several situations that should have been bread and butter for the 23-year-old. Instead an uncharacteristic mistake would emerge from his play, leaving the Dutchman to react.
For Watkins’ second and third goals, the former Charlton man was too casual in his offside line and was caught out on both occasions leading to Villa increasing their lead. He lost possession more times than people could count and was extremely sluggish whenever in possession.
At half time, he had to be taken off. Strangely, Klopp sparingly left Gomez on, but he continued to struggle, giving Ross Barkely possession for Villa’s fifth goal. Mercifully the German pulled him off for Curtis Jones just after the hour mark. His reaction to slump into his chair and put his jacket over his face said it all.
This display is just one of a number of below par showings from Gomez since the return of football, which has many Liverpool fans worried. With his confidence clearly in tatters, it would be the right thing to pull him from the line of fire and bench him for the Merseyside derby in a fortnights time.
Roberto FirminoEmbed from Getty Images
The Brazilian looked lost all evening. With Salah and Jota engaging in their own battles down the right and left-hand sides, the striker was left isolated and struggled to gain any momentum in the game. This wasn’t helped by his disastrous first touch which eluded him all evening.
Even when he dropped deep to collect the ball, he lost possession almost immediately, putting the Reds back four under immense pressure. His defensive work was also poor, missing and losing out in several tackles that we see him win on most occasions. His passing was dreadful, either under or over hitting everything to the frustration of all of his teammates.
With a goalless start to the season and a handful of poor showings to boot, it is frustrating to see such a quality and important player for this Reds team start so poorly in the new campaign. Usually when questions regarding his place start, the former Hoffenheim player would produce a string of excellent performances to show how integral he is to this system. We are now at this point once again and hopefully he can put on a positive display against the Toffees in a couple of weeks.
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