There were positive and several negative moments in Liverpool’s 3-1 away win over Aston Villa, as media observers appreciated the important three points.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were the best team on Boxing Day, showing great football, especially in the first half.
Goals from Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk led to the fact that the Reds were in full control of the situation at half-time, and while Ollie Watkins scored a goal, young Stefan Baisetic answered from the bench with his first goal.
Here’s how the media reacted to Liverpool’s victory when a festive treat flew into Villa Park.
Liverpool put on a promising display at Villa Park…
Goal’s Neil Jones believes the Reds’ season is “coming to life”:
“It was exactly the Christmas present Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool wanted.
“Their Premier League season is belatedly coming to life, and Klopp was certainly smiling here when his team won their third consecutive league title with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Aston Villa.
“Since Tottenham lost points at Brentford earlier in the day, Liverpool are now five points off fourth place and also have a game to spare. After a slow start, the red car starts to find some kind of groove.”
Ben Fisher of The Guardian admitted that the Reds weren’t perfect, but he was still impressed.:
“It was by no means a classic Liverpool performance, but there were glimpses of brilliance when they dispersed Aston Villa and put the accelerator pedal back in pursuit of the top four.
Klopp’s celebratory address to the fans touched on various topics, from his admiration for “Love really” and “the crazy world we live in now” to Liverpool’s defeat in the Champions League final in May: “Mr. Courtois had a pretty good day.” – and, most appropriately, by moving “within striking distance” of the top four.
“In 37 exciting minutes, they beat fourth-placed Tottenham, who are now only five points behind with a game to spare.”
This game was lively, sometimes so open that it was silly, and sometimes a farce, a kind of Wacky Races.
A number of Liverpool players were vital to the result…
Nathan Ridley of Mirror was very impressed with Van Dijk’s performance:
“The debate will probably never end when it comes to where Virgil van Dijk stands in the history of Liverpool’s great defenders. But there must be doubts that on the side of the Reds, the Dutchman is, without a doubt, the best.
“Having missed Thursday’s defeat in Manchester, Van Dijk’s omission was striking as he watched Liverpool’s poor defence, albeit against City’s stunning attack.
“Therefore, it is not surprising that the big man who returned to the game at Villa Park helped improve Klopp’s defense, although, on the other hand, his manager may not have expected his influence.
“Approaching the break, Van Dijk waited patiently to refresh himself in the corner of the Reds and make the score 2-0 thanks to a small but significant deviation from Ezri Konsa to beat Robin Olsen.”
Jolly had to focus on another record of the irrepressible Salah:
“At the meeting of the monarchs, the Egyptian King of Liverpool is now sitting next to King Kenny.
“For Mohamed Salah, the 172nd goal for Liverpool means that he has the same number of goals as the revered Kenny Dalglish, and 238 fewer games.
“For Liverpool, Salah’s landmark strike was accompanied by an assist to show that, like Dalglish before him, he is much more than just a finisher.”
BBC Sport’s Harry Poole has shown his support for the hated Darwin Nunes:
“Nunes may not have had a goal to celebrate at Villa Park, but the Uruguayan showed flashes of promise that convinced Liverpool to pay big money to sign him from Benfica in the summer.
“Of course, there is no doubt that he should have added nine goals to his tally in 20 games for Liverpool — and another time such blunders could have been costly.
“The persistent 23-year-old finished the match with the highest expected goal value among all players (1.15 xG) after four out of six shots on goal, five of which were delivered within the penalty area.
“But his 12 touches in the opponent’s penalty area — also the leading figure of the match — hinted at his wider influence, and his unpredictable movements created huge problems for Villa’s defense.
Mark Delgado of This Is Anfield focused on Andy Robertson, who earned his Own record:
“Andy Robertson needed just one assist to overtake Leighton Baines and become the defender with the most assists in Premier League history, and he duly achieved success at Villa Park, although not with the usual one.
“Taking into account that normally we would expect the Scot’s passes to be either standard or evil serves from the left flank, it was more like Salah: from the right channel to his left foot, for the first time a controlled touch through the six yard box – right at the feet of Mo himself.
“Now there are only 54 passes from the left defender.”
Jones liked Baysetic’s memorable goal, which became a strong versatile cameo:
“Baisetic had been on the field for less than two minutes by the time Olsen pushed Darwin Nunez’s canopy into his path.
“Some would have thrown the first time, others would not even dare to venture so far ahead, but Bajcetic is a bit special, and his composure was off the scale when he hit the ball from the sprawling Olsen and, on his weaker foot, the ball slipped past Tyrone Mings into an unprotected goal.
“The first professional goal for an 18-year-old football player who has achieved great success this season. We will hear more about him in the coming months and years.”
However, the “reds” sometimes look flawed…
Delgado admits there are some issues that need to be addressed:
“Three points are more than welcome, but Liverpool keep working when it comes to saving the campaign, make no mistake.
“It’s fair to say that right now the Reds are two teams: very good going forward and worthy enough to cause trouble for any team, but still wide open defensively and have not yet discovered the relentless consistency without the ball that has been for years. a distinctive feature of the side.
“Too often both sides of Fabinho remain wide open.
“Behind the outfield defenders and inside them remains the goal of the zonal teams, and they get great pleasure both from direct passes from deep and from quick exchanges in the last third.
“There are areas that Klopp and company must continue to work on if we want to return to the top, the elite Liverpool.
Writing on Twitter, David Lynch rightly stated that it is still difficult to create against Liverpool:
Not entirely sure what to make of Liverpool today. On paper that's a big win but if they continue to surrender control of games this side of the World Cup then they will lose as many as they win. Worrying that Nunez's momentum appears to have been torpedoed by the break, too.
— David Lynch (@dmlynch) December 26, 2022