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Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool: 5 Talking Points as the Premier League champions are destroyed | Premier League 2020-21

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 05 Oct 2020, 02:44 IST
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#3 What happened to Liverpool's defence?

Liverpool
Liverpool's defence - Joe Gomez in particular - struggled to contain Villa's attackers.

Conceding seven goals is never a good look for any defence, let alone one who only conceded 33 goals in 2019-20. So it's worth asking the question: what happened to Liverpool's backline tonight against Villa? There are a few things worth looking at.

Firstly, how much did the loss of Alisson cost the Reds? Deputy keeper Adrian was clearly at fault for the first goal, as his poor pass led to Jack Grealish stealing the ball and crossing for Ollie Watkins' relatively easy finish. However, for Villa's other goals, the Spaniard largely had no chance.

Obviously three of those goals were partially caused by wicked deflections – leaving Adrian stranded – but the fact is that Liverpool still allowed Villa to have those chances. And stunningly, on a different day, Dean Smith's side could've had 10 or even 11 goals, had Ross Barkley and Watkins finished more of their chances.

That brings into question Liverpool's whole defensive approach – and in discussing that, their high line must be looked at. Time after time, Liverpool's backline appeared to be pushing too far forward in an attempt to catch Villa offside. And Dean Smith's men capitalised on that, sending balls through the middle and over the top and creating a ridiculous amount of chances.

In the end, the fact that Villa were allowed a ridiculous 18 shots on goal – despite having just 31% possession – should say a lot. If Liverpool are to recover from this loss and retain their title, they need to ensure this performance is a one-off – and not a case of the blueprint to beating them being exposed.


#4 Can Barkley unlock Villa's true potential?

Ross Barkley may have made the best move of his career by joining Villa.
Ross Barkley may have made the best move of his career by joining Villa.
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Most observers have suggested that Aston Villa are one of the big winners of the current transfer window. Their early signings – Matty Cash, Emiliano Martinez, Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore – have filled gaps that were crying out to be filled last season. But it's their latest loan acquisition, Chelsea's Ross Barkley, who could be the real key to unlocking their true potential.

Barkley has always had raw talent dating back to his days at Everton, but since then his career has largely suffered from stops and starts. At Goodison Park, it felt like his free-flowing style of attacking never fitted into their system, while at Chelsea, he just wasn't able to establish himself as a true first-team player.

He's only played one match for Villa, but judging on his performance today, he might've found the perfect place to play. The England international had a phenomenal game in the centre of the park, and alongside the outstanding John McGinn, he ensured that Liverpool's midfield never had a chance to breathe.

Every time Barkley got on the ball, it felt like Villa would potentially carve out a chance. And the fact that he's already linking up so well with Watkins and Jack Grealish must have Villa fans absolutely salivating.

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Dean Smith's side showed flashes of potential during 2019-20 – even despite their struggles – but always looked two or three good players short of making a real impact. With the addition of Barkley, though, it feels like anything might be possible for them. His signing could turn out to be one of the best of the season.


#5 What's happening to the Premier League?

Villa
Villa's big win over Liverpool was just one seismic result in the Premier League this weekend.

For as stunning as today's result at Villa Park was, it's worth noting that it came at the end of a truly remarkable day for the Premier League overall.

The day started with a stunning result at the King Power Stadium, where West Ham were able to maul Leicester City – who smashed Manchester City 2-5 just a week ago – 0-3.

Usually, that kind of result would be the most seismic one of the day, but just a few hours later, Manchester United were demolished 1-6 by Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. Of course, Liverpool fans were celebrating that result – only to see their own side dismantled by Villa shortly afterwards.

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The current Premier League table sees Everton at the top, followed by Aston Villa, Leicester, and Arsenal. It's still early days of course – this was only Villa's third game of the campaign – but it definitely feels that unlike last season, which was won comfortably by Liverpool, the 2020-21 Premier League season may well be the most wide-open we've seen in a long time.

2015-16 obviously saw a stunning title win by Leicester, but could this season see an equally unlikely team crowned as champions? Based on what we've seen so far, it's definitely possible – and that makes every Premier League game a must-watch going forward.

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Published 05 Oct 2020, 02:44 IST
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