Liverpool confirm counter-attack will be main key for remainder of season

Liverpool’s speed on the counter-attack contrasts with a steady drop in intensity in defensive phases.

Virgil Van Dijk of Liverpool

In one of the most anticipated matches this Boxing Day in the Premier League, Aston Villa hosted Liverpool at Villa Park aiming to move up the league table after the World Cup break.

Aston Villa made four changes from their pre-World Cup win against Brighton (2-1). Emiliano Martinez continues to be rested after the Argentina title and Olsen was given another chance to stagger the negative statistics.

Meanwhile, Young came on in place of Cash as a full-back and Bailey was given the opportunity down the left side ahead of Ramsey in the attack. Finally, Watkins played in place of Ings.

On the other hand, Liverpool made two changes from the starting line-up that beat Southampton (3-1). Matip came on as centre-back in place of Gomez, while Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain played in place of Elliott and Roberto Firmino.

With just five minutes gone, Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for Liverpool on a through ball after another great space-occupying move executed by the Egyptian from Alexander-Arnold’s cross.

After total dominance in the first half, Liverpool scored their second goal in the 37th minute with Alexander-Arnold heading in after an assist from Salah, who kept the move active.

The big news for the Reds fans in the first half was the great performance from manager Jurgen Klopp’s side, with several moves created and good shots. The score before the break was not higher due to the great performance of goalkeeper Olsen, with several key saves.

At the other end, goalkeeper Alisson did not have much trouble preventing Watkins and Bailey’s chances. In addition, Aston Villa did not take advantage of the few counter-attacking opportunities.

However, Aston Villa pressed hard in the second half with more possession and exposed again the defensive frailties of an unstable Liverpool this season.

The goal for the home side came in the 59th minute when McGinn took advantage of Alexander-Arnold’s mistake to set up Luiz with space. The midfielder arrived on the far post and left it for Watkins to head firmly and beat goalkeeper Allison.

However, Liverpool were still able to respond and sealed victory in the 81st minute. Nunez forced a good save from Olsen, who gave the rebound inside the penalty area. Substitute Stefan Bajčetić hit a light touch on the ball after outpacing Mings and scored his first Premier League goal.

Aston Villa managed seven shots in the second half, but Liverpool’s deadly counter-attacks continue to work brilliantly. This is definitely the way for Jurgen Klopp to complete the Reds’ goal this season, to clinch a spot in the next UEFA Champions League.

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