Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says no punches will be pulled as the Premier League champions try to find the reason behind their hammering at Aston Villa.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were beaten 7-2 at Villa Park on Sunday, just hours after fierce rivals Manchester United had been humiliated 6-1 at home by Tottenham.
Ollie Watkins hit a hat-trick, Jack Grealish scored twice and John McGinn and Ross Barkley got a goal apiece as Villa ran riot against an abject Liverpool defence.
A poor pass from goalkeeper Adrian, in for the injured Alisson, prompted the first goal but it was the visitors’ poor execution of a high defensive line that did most of the damage.
They are the first reigning English top-flight champions to concede seven goals in a league game since Arsenal against Sunderland in September 1953, while the 11 they have let in over the first four games of this season is their highest such tally since 1937-38.
Van Dijk was unhappy with the defending but also with Liverpool’s lack of a killer touch in attack, although Mohamed Salah did score twice.
“It’s hard to lose the way we lost. First and foremost, well done to Aston Villa, you have to give them the credit they deserve,” he told Sky Sports.
“But if we are looking at ourselves, it felt like it was one of those performances where we just weren’t 100 per cent at it from start to finish.
“The goals we conceded, we should have done better, but also the chances we had – because we had many – we should have done better. So, overall, we are very disappointed. We shouldn’t lose with the numbers we did. Now it’s key to stick together and not let this happen again.
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“You can’t take credit away from Aston Villa. Obviously, we should have been more clinical. In all aspects of the game, we should have done much better. We have to be very hard to each other and we will be.
“It’s key not to get crazy or anything, but we have to be stepping it up. The performance level between the last game against Arsenal in the league and today was too big. All of us, everyone, has to take responsibility.
“I felt the gaps were too high, the second-ball battle was lost many times, and the goals helped them a lot, gave them confidence and the chances we missed doesn’t help, either.”
Van Dijk denied that the absences of Alisson and Sadio Mane, who returned a positive coronavirus test over the past week, could be blamed for the result.
“I don’t think so. We prepared well, we prepared a good game against Arsenal in the EFL Cup with a lot of players who didn’t have many minutes so far,” he said.
“Our preparation was good. We were ready for it before the game. Unfortunately, in the game, it didn’t happen as we wanted it to.”
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