Heading for Villa Park on Sunday afternoon, Liverpool would possibly have felt reasonably safe behind their shield of invincibility from last season’s magnificent juggernaut performances that finally ended their holy grail travail for the elusive Premier League title that had for so long eluded their grasp. Who could have faulted them for feeling themselves immune from any sort of upsets that have littered the start of this Premier League season?
Their first three outings of the campaign saw the Reds looking invincibly and comfortably imperious, while many of their rivals stumbled in surprising fashion.
However, all it took just were four minutes for the visitors’ stand-in goalkeeper to concede a goal and in the twinkle of an eye that feeling of invincibility just suddenly dissipated for the entire match.
The telling signs of vulnerability, albeit quiet, were there even in the earlier moments with Villa’s energetic start making them worthy leaders from the beginning, especially when Ollie Watkins magnificently grabbed his second.
And while Mo Salah did his due diligence and quickly pulled one back to provide hope of another comeback to match last season’s smash and grab at Villa Park, even the mighty Jurgen Klopp could not have been blamed for thinking it unlikely.
It proved as much almost instantaneously when John McGinn smashed a deflected effort beyond Adrian just two minutes after the deficit had been halved.
Watkins then followed up by hammering home the point as he headed in his hat-trick goal before the the ref could even put the half-time whistle to his lips.
That bludgeoning blow essentially ensured that Klopp’s locker room team talk during the break would no longer be about the possibility of salvaging a positive result, but rather about salvaging some pride.
Sadly, as a slap in the face, the most worrying aspect for the German is that his players even failed to do that – and lost in resounding fashion.
Unfortunate, and sizeablel deflections may well have been key to both ross Barkley and Jack Grealish finding the back of the net either side of Salah’s well-taken second.
Yet those goals came during a period in which the hosts got in behind a non-existent midfield repeatedly, and exploited their opponent’s high line at will.
The latter issue led to the final nail in the coffin: a seventh goal that made it Klopp’s heaviest defeat as a manager and Liverpool’s worst in Premier League history.
Now Klopp’s befuddled mind will be thinking ahead about the trip to Goodison Park that will follow the international break and how he has to quickly and magically pull a rabbit out of his hat to solve the countless issues that have led to the dismantling of his once mighty team.
This was the first time Liverpool conceded seven goals in a match in all competitions since April 1963 in a 7-2 league defeat at Tottenham and are also the first reigning English top-flight champions to ship seven goals in a league match since Arsenal against Sunderland in September 1953.
Liverpool are now suddenly down to fifth after their own perfect start to the season. Meanwhile, Villa, who have a game in hand, are up to second in the table on goal difference as we move into the international break.
Credit: Football Tribe Malaysia