In what might’ve been the wildest day of Premier League action in the competition’s history, the craziest result was saved until last.
Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool travelled to Aston Villa hoping to claim their fourth win of the 2020-21 campaign and potentially leapfrog Merseyside rivals Everton at the top of the table. To say that they didn’t manage that would be an understatement.
In one of the biggest upsets in Premier League history, Jurgen Klopp’s men were absolutely dismantled by Dean Smith’s Villa, with the game somehow finishing 7-2.
A hat-trick from Ollie Watkins, along with a brace from Jack Grealish and goals from John McGinn and Ross Barkley sent Villa fans into wonderland, rendering Mohamed Salah’s double largely irrelevant.
Here are five talking points from this remarkable game.
#1 Liverpool’s aura of invincibility is gone
The biggest talking point from this match has to be the fact that the aura of invincibility that has surrounded Liverpool ever since their Champions League victory in 2019 is now gone, perhaps for good.
Jurgen Klopp’s men didn’t suffer a single loss in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign until February’s surprise defeat at the hands of Watford. They won the league title after finishing 18 points ahead of their nearest rivals Manchester City. At times, it seemed like the Reds were truly unstoppable.
Today though, that was all different. Villa came into the match showing absolutely no fear of the Reds’ attacking talents and absolutely destroyed the champions by exposing the high line of their defence time after time.
Sure, Liverpool were without three key men in Alisson, Sadio Mane, and Thiago Alcantara. But the fact is that no reigning Premier League champions have ever been taken apart in this manner before. This result will undoubtedly send a message to the pretenders to the Premier League throne – based on today, Liverpool are far from invincible, and so the title race is wide open.
#2 Villa’s Ollie Watkins is the real deal
Aston Villa’s struggles during the 2019-20 Premier League campaign have been well documented. Dean Smith’s side couldn’t stop conceding goals in the first half of the season, and when the action restarted following lockdown, their defence tightened up, but they struggled for goals.
After surviving by the skin of their teeth, it was clear that Smith needed to bring some reinforcements in – particularly in the striking department. However, eyebrows were raised when Villa paid £28m for Brentford’s Ollie Watkins.
Watkins had scored 25 goals in the EFL Championship during 2019-20, but had never played in the Premier League before. And so quite rightly, his ability to adjust was questioned – especially when he failed to find the net in his first two matches. Well, after tonight, those questions have been answered.
Watkins is most certainly for real. The former Brentford man was phenomenal in tonight’s game, simply dominating Liverpool’s defence – particularly the hapless Joe Gomez – throughout the game. He held the ball up excellently, made brilliant runs and passes to his teammates, and when he was given chances, he found the back of the net – three times to be exact.
Even more fascinatingly, in his post-match interview, Watkins seemed more bothered about a good chance he missed during the second half than the goals he’d scored. That tends to be the mark of a player who’s always looking for improvement, something that can only be good for Villa.
Villa fans should be absolutely buzzing with this signing. The days of worrying about the finishing ability of Keinan Davis and Mbwana Samatta are now over, and Villa have a new hero to worship.
Published 05 Oct 2020, 02:44 IST