Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Shambolic! Liverpool Played ‘Sunday League Football’ On Sunday Night At Villa Park Vs Smith’s Army

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

Although a night to forget for the Liverpool fans, the nightmare of a 7-2 humiliation against Aston Villa will keep on haunting them for years to come. Before we discuss what went wrong for the reigning champions, the Claret and Blue deserve massive plaudits for their spirited show, resilience and the successful execution of a well-rehearsed strategy right until the final whistle.

To be fair, nothing went right for the Reds ever since Adrian’s early howler. It was way too easy for Ollie Watkins to fire in from a close range and the 19-time league winners showed little character in staging a comeback after a series of misfortunes and catastrophe. Three deflected goals, a botched up high line and an array of major absentees made the scoreline even worse after 90 minutes of appalling football.

A foul inside the box on Mohamed Salah led to a reasonable penalty shout. But the referee and the VAR team ruled it out and a second from Watkins minutes later set the mood perfectly for the home side. This takes nothing away from the Villans though who were far superior throughout and Liverpool, irrespective of their firepower and composure across the pitch, were all over the place both mentally as well as tactically during this abysmal show.

Morning Shows The Day

A shoulder injury to Alisson Becker prior to the game led to hysteria among the supporters, particularly after the announcement of Adrian’s name in the teamsheet. The error-prone custodian justified his ‘reputation’ with an early mistake which arguably destroyed the balance considering Liverpool’s firm and calm approach in away games.

It’s been a problem with Adrian for quite a while now who, despite his shot-stopping ability, is too overconfident and arrogant to learn from the previous blunders. His distribution was dreadful, and the backline opted not to pass him back on most occasions while playing it out from the back. You won’t find Alisson making acrobatic stops or flying between the sticks. Instead, he makes it look easy with his positioning, game-reading traits and the exquisite distribution skills. With no deadline day incoming (as the reports suggest) at Anfield, Liverpool’s title defence might get damaged further with the Selecao international ruled out for four to six weeks ahead of their tricky tests against Everton, Ajax, Atalanta, Leicester City and Manchester City among many.

Liverpool look dejected after Sunday night humiliation
Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool reacts after Aton Villa score their 6th goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on October 04, 2020 in Birmingham, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Rui Vieira – Pool/Getty Images)

High Line Hitting The New Low Every Time 

Jurgen Klopp prefers to play a high line, and it’s not a crime with players like Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold delivering week in week out with near perfection. But this high line has often been exposed in recent months, mostly after the ‘Project Restart’ towards the closure of the previous term. The league was pretty much done and dusted by that time, but the gaffer seems not to have worked on the same despite conceding thrice against Leeds United in the opening gameweek of the 2020-21 campaign.

The Reds must have learned the hard way now as the likes of Watkins, Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish kept on destroying their shape and system with pace, well-crafted movements and persistent pressure. They continued to win the second balls, hunted in numbers and were always spot on with the final pass. A collective failure from the Merseysiders to deal with their opponents.

New Concerns Over Firmino

If the fans are only worried about Roberto Firmino’s scoring drought, more bad news for them as the ‘number 9’ is not only lacking goals but also wasting chances in the build-ups, losing possession deep down the midfield – something that we have never seen before! His work ethics make him an integral part of Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’, however, the way he is failing to find his fellow attackers after carrying the ball forward, giving it away to the opponents dangerously after unnecessary holding play, as well as struggling to dictate the tempo from the central role, is ruining the Reds’ ‘heavy metal football’.

One-off Or The Beginning Of A Downfall?

Despite the disastrous defeat, the Sunday night outcome must be viewed as a one-off with the likes of Sadio Mane, Thiago, Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set to return to action after the international break. The non-existent midfield (against Villa) will be bolstered significantly, and the reaction should be there in the Merseysider derby even though Everton are enjoying a dream run under Carlo Ancelotti.

A shocking 4-1 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur three years ago is still regarded as the turning point of Klopp’s tenure. They won all the major honours ever since and the humiliation last night has set the platform for yet another reaction shaking off the complacency. Klopp has never thrown his players in the bin, but the wake-up call is applicable for all, including the charismatic German chief.

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