Calls for Klopp to drop high line after comical defending sees Liverpool torn apart by Villa

Calls for Klopp to drop high line after comical defending sees Liverpool torn apart by Villa

AT SIXES AND SEVENS

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool created the “wrong type” of history after they “lost the plot” to play into Aston Villa’s hands in their 7-2 humbling at Villa Park in the Premier League on Sunday.

Ollie Watkins completed a perfect hat-trick with his head inside 39 minutes as the Reds became the first reigning Premier League champions to concede seven goals in a top-flight match.

The absence of goalkeeper Alisson Becker to injury, and Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara due to the coronavirus was notable.

Stand-in goalkeeper Adrian’s poor pass after just four minutes was seized upon by Jack Grealish, who squared for Watkins to score his first Premier League goal.

It was Adrian’s fifth error in 21 appearances for Liverpool that has led directly to a goal – as many as Alisson, who is set to miss about six weeks with a shoulder problem, has in 92 games.

“The first goal had an impact, but it shouldn’t,” added Klopp. “Adrian made a mistake but we conceded goals like this in the past. We lost the plot then.”

Liverpool’s high line was torn apart constantly by Villa’s counter-attack, with Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold both guilty of getting caught out playing the offside trap.

It was even breached from set plays as six minutes before the break, Trezeguet crossed for Watkins, the Championship’s joint-top scorer last season with 25 strikes, to become the first player in a decade to score a treble against Liverpool.

Villa rained in 18 shots by the full-time whistle and could have added to goals from John McGinn, Ross Barkley and Grealish (two) as they climbed to second in the standings after a third successive win.

Mohamed Salah grabbed a brace for the visitors.

“When Jurgen Klopp says ‘Wow’ to you, you know you’ve done something right,” Villa manager Dean Smith said. “The lads were superb, they executed the game plan perfectly.”

Former Liverpool defender and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher insisted the Reds have to make adjustments.

“The high defensive line was ripped to shreds against Leeds,” he said in reference to Liverpool’s 4-3 season-opening win. “The same has happened here. It has been even worse…

“It is OK playing a high line, condensing it, making the team compact, winning the ball off the opposition. But when they are getting closer to your back four and midfielders are on it, I am not even saying run back 20 yards, I am just saying be ready to run back.”

That Villa narrowly avoided relegation last season and finished 64 points behind Liverpool added to the shock factor. Klopp’s men were not beaten until their 28th league game at Watford last season. But four games into the new campaign, they have now let in seven for the first time since 1963.

“Years ago, we told ourselves we wanted to create history. That was history but obviously, the wrong type,” Klopp said.

“We made too many mistakes and massive ones obviously… There is nobody to blame apart from me and us.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS