Battling spirit beats VAR as Trent delivers “perfect riposte” – Media on Liverpool 2-1 Aston Villa

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The media praised Trent Alexander-Arnold and Liverpool’s improved battling spirit after the Reds’ 2-1 comeback win against Aston Villa.

The winning feeling finally returned at Anfield after Jurgen Klopp’s side produced a second-half turnaround to claim a big three points.

After Mohamed Salah equalised, Trent channelled his inner-Stevie G to fire home a rocket and give Liverpool a long-awaited first home win in the Premier League in 2021.

It’s a crucial result that keeps the Reds firmly in the top-four hunt, and here’s all the key analysis from the media on a victorious afternoon at Anfield.

 

The return of Liverpool’s battling spirit was the biggest positive of the victory, according to the media…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 10, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) celebrates with team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s Freddie Keighley thought it was refreshing to see the Reds’ “never give up attitude” return:

Of course, West Ham and Chelsea have games in hand on the Reds, but this was an emphatic message by the champions, reaffirming their ‘never give up’ attitude which has been missing in recent months.

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle admired how Klopp’s men kept plugging away despite being completely shafted by yet another shambolic VAR decision:

Indeed, Liverpool simply couldn’t feel sorry for themselves as they trotted out for the second half, no doubt bristling at the injustice of a call on a par with Firmino’s disallowed strike at Villa Park last season.

[…]

And this battling victory, a third in a row in the Premier League, has shown they will never quit – no matter how enraged.

And the Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe reckons the manner of the victory will provide the biggest boost, restoring belief that the Reds can still overcome adversity to win:

But when Trent Alexander-Arnold smashed in the 91st minute winner to defeat Aston Villa, Klopp could take satisfaction from even more. He had seen his side overcome adverse circumstances to claim a vital victory. That’s not happened enough in 2021.

 

Reporters reflected on an improved Anfield performance and what the Reds did better…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 10, 2021: Liverpool's Andy Robertson sees his shot saved, but Mohamed Salah scores an equalising goal with the rebound, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ESPN’s Harry Kettle thought Liverpool’s return to playing a high defensive line and also varying the style, with more direct passing, provided the platform for the victory:

Liverpool reverted back to the high line that got them to the dance, and while it wasn’t perfect, they were definitely the dominant side throughout today — which hasn’t always been the case in the last few months.

They mixed up their passing with some nice variety in long balls and short bursts, and when they went quite direct, it often paid off.

Keighley felt a big plus point was how the Reds made a much stronger start to the game than in recent Anfield clashes:

But Liverpool were much improved against Dean Smith’s side in the opening half-hour – which was their best at home for many months.

Liverpool registered six shots in the opening 20 minutes and Mohamed Salah should have punished a Tyrone Mings error to put them ahead early on […]

And the Guardian’s Andy Hunter noted how Klopp’s team were much sharper in midfield compared to against Real Madrid in midweek:

In stark contrast to their performance in Madrid in midweek Liverpool were vibrant and sharp in the first half, denying Villa time and space in midfield and creating openings for both full-backs to attack regularly.

 

Members of the media discussed Trent’s ‘perfect response’ and the improved form of another Red…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 10, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Neil Jones, writing for Goal, labelled Trent’s winner “the perfect riposte” to all the recent criticism, and noted how his strike had shades of a certain former Scouse hero:

No player has been more analysed, more criticised. This was the perfect riposte from the 22-year-old, particularly with Southgate sitting in the stands at Anfield.

His goal bore the hallmark of another home-grown hero, Steven Gerrard. How many times did he step up for Liverpool in their time of need? How many times did he deliver in front of the Kop? Alexander-Arnold, generally, is a different player and a different person, but the similarities are striking. Big moment, big player.

Jones followed that with some choice but accurate words for the Trent haters:

If you doubt Liverpool’s right-back, then you’d be best advised to follow a different sport.

Form is temporary, but class is very much permanent.

Meanwhile, Sachin Nakrani, writing for the Guardian, reserved a word of praise for Salah’s contribution in ending the Anfield drought and for how he has maintained his level this season:

As many in the champions’ ranks have fallen short of their best this campaign, the Egyptian forward has continued to excel.

[…]

His goal on Saturday was by no means the best he has scored for Liverpool but it perfectly highlighted his willingness to keep getting into dangerous areas as well as his anticipation for the kind of breaks that result in chances, which, to a large extent, is why he is presented with so many.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 10, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Elsewhere, Kettle thought Roberto Firmino produced a good performance, with this “one of his better showings of the season”:

In one of his better showings of the season, the Brazilian showcased outstanding footwork and great passing movement and also had a goal controversially ruled out by VAR.

And the Mail’s Oliver Holt thought Klopp got his selection right this time around, making the right call to drop the our-of-sorts Sadio Mane for the Brazilian:

Klopp’s selections had been criticised after playing Naby Keita in Spain but after only three Premier League goals since October – and none since the end of January – benching Sadio Mane in favour of Roberto Firmino, himself with only one goal since Christmas, was more understandable.

 

Match reports from the victory couldn’t be completed without a word on the latest VAR farce to sting the Reds…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 10, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores a goal in injury time of the first half, but it was disallowed after a VAR review, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Discussing the shambolic decision to disallow Firmino’s goal, Melissa Reddy, of the Independent, thinks the Premier League needs to follow the approach taken by the Champions League:

It would have served as an equaliser before the break, but the decision served as another example as to why the top flight needs to get in line with the Champions League approach and only rule for offside when the graphics prove a clear call.

Summing up the thoughts of every football fan, Doyle called for VAR to be binned:

The implementation of VAR is in danger of turning football into a glorified game of FIFA, with lines drawn on screens and decisions coming down to the tiniest pixel.

The debate over whether it should continue in the sport – spoiler alert, it shouldn’t – can wait for another time.

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