Attacking depth & transfer concerns in “art-form” win – Media on Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa

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The media praised Liverpool for getting back to winning ways against Aston Villa, but felt the need for transfers to improve attacking depth was highlighted.

The Reds picked up a first three points as reigning Premier League champions with a routine 2-0 victory at Anfield.

Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones‘ first Premier League goal collected a 17th win from 17 Anfield outings this season to maintain 100 percent winning record on home turf.

Here’s all the analysis from the media on the victory as Jurgen Klopp’s side bounced back to winning ways.

 

Reporters reflected on the win and provided a variety of thoughts on the performance and result…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 5, 2020: Liverpool’s Sadio Mané (C) celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mates Mohamed Salah (L) and Roberto Firmino (R) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Evening Standard‘s David Lynch noted how it was another display of Liverpool’s “artform” of being able to win despite playing below-par that shone through:

“This season, Liverpool make an artform out of getting three points by hook or crook, even when they haven’t been able to play their best football.”

The Liverpool Echo’s Paul Gorst praised the Reds for finding focus to protect the 100 percent winning run at Anfield:

“Whether the stadium is full of fans or the game is played in splendid isolation, it seems the Reds are unencumbered by what is permitted inside Anfield’s four walls.

[…]

“They have won 24 in a row and have scored six without reply since the restart here. Fans or no fans, this is a true fortress of English football.”

Writing for the National, Richard Jolly felt it was another underwhelming display behind-closed-doors which showed how Liverpool miss the intensity of the Anfield crowd:

“Anfield’s first home game as champions since 1991 would, under other circumstances, have been an event to savour, but it added to the impression that Liverpool, given the way their intensity can stem from the energy of their fans, need supporters more than most.

“They have only excelled against Crystal Palace in behind-closed-doors games but less is at stake now.”

The Mirror’s Alex Smith warned that the Reds need to pick up the performance level again to avoid falling into a rut given how quickly next season follows:

“The three points painted over a workman-like performance.

[…]

“There is a worry that the season could drift – which could have a knock-on effect with a shortened gap between season.”

 

The media discussed the form of those given a chance to shine and saw concerns particularly with Divock Origi…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 5, 2020: Liverpool’s Divock Origi, with dyed blonde hair, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Smith was unimpressed with Origi and feels the Belgian is no longer an adequate option as Liverpool’s central striker:

Divock Origi, as the reserve striker, doesn’t quite fit that bill, albeit having his moments and remaining a solid attacker. The Belgian is much better when utilised out wide – down the middle against Villa he was toothless at best.

[…]

“Klopp has built an impressive machine at Liverpool, but that lack of depth centrally upfront is a weak point.”

Neil Jones, writing for Goal, was wholly underwhelmed by Origi’s showing and believes it’s now time for Klopp to find an upgrade on the Belgian:

“The Belgium international was drafted in to replace Roberto Firmino, who had struggled at Manchester City on Thursday, but delivered a performance low on quality and intensity, the kind which stands out a mile when you consider what Klopp’s sides are supposed to be about.

[…]

“It’s time for Liverpool to think about an upgrade.”

Reviews were more positive for Naby Keita, and the Echo’s Ian Doyle saw promising signs from the No. 8 and challenged him to prove he can be a key figure in midfield over the remaining games:

“As with the remainder of Liverpool ’s games this season, there is a glaring caveat for many individual displays with the collective incentive no longer there. It will be more difficult than usual to impress.

[…]

“Keita, though, will have benefited most having provided only the third assist of his Anfield career. If the remaining games give the Guinean a chance to build confidence and demonstrate he has a long-term future in the Reds’ engine room, then they will be worthwhile.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 5, 2020: Liverpool’s Naby Keita gets away from Aston Villa's captain Jack Grealish during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lynch was less impressed and wrote how the match showed that the tried-and-trusted Fabinho-Wijnaldum-Henderson unit is still undoubtedly Liverpool’s best:

“It is often said that the next step for this Liverpool side is to find more creativity from central areas to account for opponents shutting down any space out wide.

[…]

“But, on this evidence, Klopp’s current alternatives do not represent an improvement, and he is fully justified in going with tried and tested for the foreseeable future.”

Lynch also reflected on a special week for Curtis Jones and believes the youngster’s cameo proved that he is ready to play a bigger role next season:

Adam Lallana’s departure on a free transfer is expected to open up opportunities for Jones, who is most comfortable in the central attacking midfield position also favoured by his countryman.

“And he showed that he is ready to take on that mantle with a maiden Premier League goal that required a perfectly timed arrival into the box and a cool finish. What a week for the teenager.”

 

Several journalists thought the match showed reinforcements are required in the transfer window, especially in attack…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 5, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp (L) and Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe assessed how the performance provided reassurance on Liverpool’s quality but also highlighted why Liverpool need to make signings this summer:

“Liverpool’s late excellence is reassuring and paradoxically a cause for concern for Klopp if he is seeking evidence a quiet summer in the transfer market will not unduly damage a title defence.”

The Mail’s Ian Ladyman feels Liverpool must strike while the iron is hot this summer and should learn from title rivals Man City, who paid the price for failing to address problem positions:

“The perceived wisdom is that teams should strengthen when they are ahead.

[…]

“Interestingly it was something City didn’t do last summer – they never replaced outgoing captain Vincent Kompany – and it could be argued they paid a heavy price.”

Bascombe thinks that the drop-off when one of the front three is rotated is “too extreme” and highlighted the need for another top-class attacker as the main priority:

“The performance did little to remove doubts about whether Liverpool would keep their impeccable recent standards if they lost Sadio Mane, Mo Salah or Roberto Firmino for a prolonged spell.

[…]

“The drop in standards is too extreme when one is missing, in this case Firmino rested.”

Jones has the same idea, but also believes that Klopp has a seriously tough task in improving the attack due to the strength of the front three:

“Those with concerns about the quality of Liverpool’s replacements will be voicing them tonight, for sure.

[…]

“That is the conundrum which faces the newly-crowned Premier League champions. It is hard to improve their first XI, but the drop-off in quality when you delve into the squad is still there – especially in forward areas.”

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