Liverpool’s shambolic performance in a 7-2 capitulation at Aston Villa was duly criticised by the media, with the night widely labelled as “the worst of Klopp’s reign.”
The Reds were emphatically put to the sword on an evening which was starkly different to the resilient and defensively sound side which charged to the title last season.
Jurgen Klopp‘s men were embarrassed at Villa Park after shipping seven goals and displaying a soft underbelly which was duly exposed at every turn.
An error off the boot of Adrian with less than five minutes on the clock set the tone and Liverpool never recovered despite Mohamed Salah netting a brace.
There were few, if any, positives for Klopp’s men, and here’s how the media assessed the heavy defeat.
There was no holding back on Liverpool’s “embarrassing” performance, with their shambolic defence highlighted by reporters…
For Goal‘s Neil Jones, he was of the view that the Reds were “unrecognisable” and were dispatched in “brutal fashion”:
Jurgen Klopp’s side were ripped apart, destroyed by an Aston Villa team which exposed the reigning champions’ chin in quite brutal fashion.
It finished 7-2, but it genuinely could have been anything. Liverpool, a side that 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.
The Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe, held nothing back as he assessed the defeat as both “shambolic” and “embarrassing”:
Liverpool took a night off with the most shambolic and embarrassing exhibition of Klopp’s reign. How he must have pined for those days last week when describing his side’s defending as sloppy was taken as an insult.
When Klopp said his side would ‘attack’ rather than defend their title, presumably he did not mean they would try to retain the crown without any defending.
Liverpool’s inability to get at a stranglehold was not down to one player for Karl Matchett at the Independent, assessing that there were calamitous defensive performances across the board:
Adrian’s poor passing, Joe Gomez’s incapacity to show his man outside, Virgil van Dijk’s lack of awareness, none of the team following in set-pieces…the Reds’ all-round shambles at the back was a continuation of what we’ve seen in the top flight in the early weeks.
Not something much expected of the title favourites, mind.
Ian Doyle, for the Liverpool Echo, was straight to the point and while fortune was not on their side with a number of deflected shots, there was no room for excuses:
Embarrassing. Humiliating. Inept. Witless. Weak. Woeful.
We could be here for a long, long, long time running through the thesaurus and plucking words to describe this Liverpool defeat, their worst in the league since a similar 7-2 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur in April 1963.
Liverpool went through the whole of last season without conceding a deflected goal then shipped three inside 90 minutes.
None of that, though, can excuse the awful defending – from front to back – that contributed greatly to Liverpool’s downfall here.
They have now conceded 11 goals in four Premier League games, a total it took them 12 games to leak last season. More than sloppy, as Roy Keane might say.
The Daily Mail‘s Dominic King, meanwhile, believes the tone for the “worst night of Klopp’s reign” was set with the wayward pass for the opening goal:
Liverpool, however, were so inexplicably bad that their performance demanded intense scrutiny. From the moment Adrian, the number two goalkeeper, provided the assist for Villa’s opening goal, the tone was set for what was, without doubt, the worst night of Klopp’s reign.
They couldn’t defend, they had no midfield and the attack was horribly isolated. Some players went missing, others were simply not good enough.
And for the Guardian‘s Ollie Watkins, it was an outing which was a far cry from one of champions:
Liverpool were so bedraggled that they looked like champions in name only.
The media questioned what could be next in the goalkeeping department…
The BBC Sport‘s Emlyn Begley was quick to highlight that the errors keep stacking up for Adrian:
Liverpool were completed wretched. The tone was set from the moment Adrian overhit a simple pass to Joe Gomez, which went straight to Grealish to set up the opener.
Adrian has made five errors directly leading to goals in his 21 appearances for Liverpool – as many as first-choice Alisson has in 92 games.
The Reds’ performance was not without misfortune, but the Independent‘s Richard Jolly viewed the result as a “a historic humiliation” which Adrian must take “some of the blame” for:
Even the embarrassment of Steven Gerrard’s final game at Stoke only entailed retrieving the ball from their net six times. This was a historic humiliation.
They did miss Alisson Becker, sidelined by a shoulder injury, and Adrian must shoulder some of the blame.
Liverpool allied mistakes with misfortune. Three goals were deflected.
Doyle was resistant to lay it all on Adrian but suggested it could cause Liverpool to act quickly in the transfer window following Alisson‘s injury:
Adrian had been satisfactory during his first stint between the sticks last season but his Anfield career has been one of diminishing returns.
And while he couldn’t be blamed for the majority of the goals here, his dismal mistake for the opener set the tone and bred uncertainty throughout the Reds back line.
The Spaniard isn’t close to the point of no return – he did well in the Carabao Cup defeat to Arsenal in midweek – but there is now genuine debate over whether Klopp should move for a goalkeeper in the next 24 hours if Alisson is out for any significant length of time.
It was a stance corroborated by King, who acknowledged others were at fault but a weakness between the sticks was apparent once more:
When Alisson got injured in the opening match of last season, he missed eight weeks but Liverpool managed to weather that storm. The defence threw a ring around Adrian that was so tight that ended up scooting clear over the horizon.
History will not repeat itself. The more Adrian has played, the more vulnerable Liverpool have looked. His errors are racking up and being punished. It would be risible, though, to blame just the goalkeeper for this as several others were wretched.
The back-line ahead of Adrian was one which did not provide the Spaniard with adequate cover for Jones, which was also seen in midfield:
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.
Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and even the totemic Virgil van Dijk all had nightmares. In front of them Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum were mirages.
Looking further ahead, Bascombe voiced fears that a length stint on the sidelines for Liverpool’s No. 1 could have “longer-term repercussions to their title defence”:
The capitulation was assisted in large part to the absence of Alisson Becker, whose shoulder injury sustained in training on Saturday had a cataclysmic impact on this game and may have longer-term repercussions to their title defence given he may miss six weeks.
There was one positive to emerge for journalists but the match needs to be a turning point for the Reds…
For Doyle, positives were few and far between but Salah’s brace and bright cameos for Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones were something for Liverpool to hang their hat on:
Positives? Well, Mohamed Salah took his tally to five for the season with a fine brace and both Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones were lively from the bench.
But it was very, very slim pickings.
A view shared by Bascombe, with the Egyptian the only Red to “emerge with any credit”:
Salah, the only Liverpool player to emerge with any credit.
A fine display of finishing would have been lauded on any other night for Salah, with Jolly crediting his performance which was lost in the overall shambolic display:
The Egyptian scored twice in classy finish, a half-volley to halve the deficit and a typically clinical finish from Roberto Firmino’s pass. Under other circumstances, there would be paeans to his finishing. Not now, though.
For the Mirror‘s Andy Dunn, he believes that “no pity” will be shown by Klopp once his player return after the international break as they look to bounce back:
There will be no pity shown by Klopp when these players return from their international breaks.
They do not lose many games, they do not have many off-days, they almost always have the right attitude.
Not on this occasion. This was shocking, this was startling. This, as even Jurgen and Roy might agree, was more than sloppy.
And with last season’s outing at Villa Park proving to be a catalyst to the title, King hopes the same can be said for this defeat in hindsight:
Villa Park was a turning point for Liverpool last season when they went on to become champions, when they scored two late goals to win the game.
Sometimes heavy defeats can be just as significant as last-gasp wins. Klopp must hope Villa Park will be a turning point for his team again.