Jurgen Klopp’s insight keeps Liverpool on pace with Manchester City for the Premier League in must-win win over Aston Villa
BIRMINGHAM, England — At the end of a day when Manchester City made a dangerous new blockbuster for next season, Jurgen Klopp’s gamble on his own squad depth paid off to keep Liverpool in the title race. Premier League.
City’s acquisition of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland is a reminder that they intend to set the tone now and in the future, but Liverpool have proven here they are keen to take the current fight to the next level. at the end, showing an impressive challenge to secure a vital 2-1 win over Aston Villa despite a much changed line-up.
Klopp made five changes with Andy Robertson given the night off while Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara were among those on the bench as Kostas Tsimikas and Curtis Jones were drafted. It’s a fine balancing act, maintaining performance levels while chasing an unprecedented quadruple, which poses tough questions for Klopp with games every few days.
“I’ve known the boys for a long time [time]. If I asked them they would all say they ‘I can play’ so I don’t ask,” Klopp said. “I have to make these decisions on my own. I obviously have nothing but watching football games and football players and with all that in mind you think, “How could this work today?”
“It’s with the boys coming in with not a lot of pace, it’s not that easy – Kostas, Curtis. Kostas went through a lot of pain all over and Curtis was, by the time we started playing, he was involved in very good moments. But we have to win the game, so I thought it was time for Thiago to step into the half-spaces. My job is to make decisions.”
It threatened to backfire when Robertson’s substitute Tsimikas collided with Ollie Watkins in the opening three minutes as the pair aimed to meet Lucas Digne’s cross. Joel Matip was also brought down in the scrum leaving Douglas Luiz with a header, converting on the second attempt after Alisson saved his initial shot.
Matip responded almost instantly after Villa failed to deal with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free kick. After losing Fabinho to what appeared to be a hamstring injury – testing that depth even further – Liverpool stepped him up after half-time and Luis Diaz, an all-night livewire once again, crossed for Sadio Mane to take a superb look past Emiliano. Martinez.
Somehow it had to be Mane. He scored nine goals in ten games against Villa, five in five at Villa Park, and no one has scored more times for Liverpool since Diaz joined the club at the end of January.
It was Mane’s 15th goal this season, meaning Liverpool became only the second team in Premier League history to see three players reach that milestone in the same campaign: Mane, Salah and Diogo Jota . Salah had just 18 minutes here to keep pace in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea, but Villa were more of a threat during this time.
Mark Ogden explains how Manchester City won the race for Erling Haaland.
There were old connections with Liverpool everywhere you looked here, with Steven Gerrard in the Villa dugout alongside former Reds midfielder Gary McAllister. Liverpool received £142m from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho but there was no refund on Tuesday as the Brazilian enjoyed one of his quieter evenings. Instead, it fell to former striker Danny Ings to threaten to destroy Liverpool’s title bid.
Ings, who signed for Liverpool in 2015 before leaving for good four years later, lacked conviction when he found several promising positions and when he beat Alisson with a low drive at 85 minutes, the off-flag game was lifted correctly.
Gerrard did his best to join the chorus of disapproval targeting referee Jon Moss for a series of strange calls. He cut off a question about Moss’ performance before it was made: “No comment. Just hope it gets reviewed. That’s all I’ll say.” Told Moss was retiring at the end of the season, Gerrard replied, “Is he? Good.”
Klopp revealed Fabinho was optimistic his season could be over – the midfielder watched the second half from the dugout in another encouraging sign – but the pace of the season’s climax is relentless with a date at Wembley four days away.
“Now we have to recover, really recover and play the FA Cup final because obviously there is no mercy anywhere because we are creating this situation for ourselves by qualifying for all the finals, which is absolutely huge. “, Klopp said. “We are playing an incredibly big game and from Thursday we will prepare with the boys.”
This hard-fought win was another reminder that each of them will matter. Praising City’s capture of Haaland, Klopp said: “City will never be a team that wins because of just one player.” The same is true for Liverpool.
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