Defending Champions Liverpool were ripped apart, destroyed by the newly promoted Aston Villa team which exposed the reigning champions’ chin in quite brutal fashion. Liverpool side which prides itself on its heart and its cohesion, its solidity and structure, were unrecognisable, bewildered strangers with Liver Birds on their chest but shoelaces tied together.
Their first-half display, in particular, was about as bad as it gets. Never under Klopp have they looked so weak, so vulnerable, so utterly ill-at-ease. The defence line was in a complete disarray as the Super Sunday clash ended 7-2, with goals queuing up in both halves. Liverpool had more shots and ball possession in the first half but still had 4 goals past them.
It did not get much better after the break, as the destruction continued. They were imbalanced and bereft of confidence. The defending Premier League champions were taken to the cleaners by Ollie Watkins, standing and admiring Jack Grealish, smashed for seven by a team which only managed to avoid relegation on the final day of last season.
Adrian, standing in for the injured Alisson Becker in goal, gifted Villa their opener inside four minutes. The Spaniard’s lack of conviction with the ball at his feet is a real issue in a side such as this, and the fear is that Alisson’s shoulder problem is not a minor one.
Everton, top of the league and Liverpool’s next opponents, will be licking their lips for sure. Aston Villa’s summer signing from Brentford Watkins had never previously scored a Premier League goal, but he had three by half-time here, with Liverpool’s defence claiming the assists.
Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk all had nightmares. In front of them Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum were below par, offering neither protection nor penetration. Naby Keita was hooked at half-time, though he was far from Liverpool’s worst performer. Aston Villa had some luck with deflections, but they also missed a lot of chances themselves. Every time the home side attacked, Klopp’s side looked vulnerable.
Grealish, unplayable at times, scored twice, and Ross Barkley, the former Everton midfielder, added insult to injury with a goal on his debut following his loan move from Chelsea. Villa now joins Everton as the only teams with their 100 per cent record still intact in the Premier League.
Liverpool are the first reigning champions in England to concede seven goals in a top-flight match since Arsenal in September 1953. They could, perhaps should, have been the first side ever to concede 10 in a Premier League game. It was a bad day for Klopp as his sides last defeat to a huge margin was as far back with Brendan Rogers, in a 6-1 loss to Stoke city.