Jack Lusby reports from Villa Park after a sensational attacking display from Liverpool earned a 6-0 win against struggling Aston Villa.
Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool
Premier League – Villa Park – Sunday 14th February 2016
Goals: Sturridge 16′, Milner 25′, Can 58′, Origi 63′, Clyne 65′, Toure 71′
Making nine changes to the side that lost 2-1 to West Ham United in Tuesday night’s FA Cup fourth-round replay, Jurgen Klopp fielded close to his strongest starting lineup for Sunday’s visit to Villa Park.
This saw Kolo Toure join Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne in defence, with Dejan Lovren still short of fitness, while Emre Can and Jordan Henderson lined up in midfield.
Building on this strong base with a 4-2-3-1 formation, Klopp was able to call upon his best attacking trio.
Supported by the diligent James Milner, Coutinho played a starring role alongside Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino.
After a congested start to this cold, afternoon clash, Liverpool kicked into gear on 16 minutes.
With Coutinho picking up the ball on the left flank, the Brazilian curled an inch-perfect cross in for Sturridge to nod past Mark Bunn and put his side 1-0 up.
The No. 15 peeled away in celebration as the pressure eased off Klopp’s Reds.
Coutinho was at the forefront of Liverpool’s attacking play, drifting in from his left-sided role to drill passes onto a fluid, dovetailing Firmino-Sturridge tandem.
Villa wilted following Milner’s 25th-minute free-kick, and Liverpool were poised to dominate after the break.
Despite bringing each of Coutinho, Firmino and Sturridge off before full-time, Klopp saw a consistency in his side’s display, as goals from Can, Clyne, Toure and Divock Origi consigned Villa to a 6-0 defeat.
Seemingly doomed to relegation, Villa put up little fight as Liverpool flexed their attacking muscle.
But with the Reds in inspired form throughout, this performance hinted at long-term success under Klopp.
The return of Sturridge and Coutinho could push Liverpool up the table in the second half of 2015/16, with this fluid, fleet-footed lineup surely matching Klopp’s attacking vision.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Toure, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Henderson; Milner, Coutinho (Stewart 66′), Firmino (Benteke 74′), Sturridge (Origi 62′)
Subs not used: Ward, Caulker, Ibe, Flanagan.
Aston Villa: Bunn; Richards (Hutton 85′), Okore, Lescott, Cissokho; Westwood, Gana; Bacuna (Lyden 66′), Veretout, Gil; Agbonlahor (Sinclair 58′).
Subs not used: Guzan, Clark, Richardson, Davis.
ASTON VILLA 0-6 LIVERPOOL
- REPORT: Coutinho and Sturridge inspire Villa Park rout
- REACTIONS: With a fit squad, this is what we’re capable of
- PLAYER RATINGS: Coutinho takes man of the match
- TACTICS: Reds close to Klopp’s attacking vision