Examining the late collapse that Led to Liverpool's draw with Villa

Liverpool had a rough go of things late on against Aston Villa.
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

In Monday’s Aston Villa matchup, Liverpool couldn’t secure a win at Villa Park in its penultimate match of the Premier League season.

Despite the team establishing a 3-1 lead after Jarrell Quansah’s header at the beginning of the second half, Liverpool struggled to resist at the defensive end, allowing two consecutive goals from the opponent in three minutes.

To have an overview of how Liverpool lost its advantage from a lead to a final draw, let’s dive into the match.

Setting Up the Tone Earlier

Out of most Kopties' expectations entering the match, Liverpool became the one to lead the match off in the nearly first minute.

The first goal was initiated from Liverpool’s first offensive play. As Mohamed Salah lured more attention from Villa’s defensive players on the right flank, he delivered the ball to Harvey Elliott who came forward for help on the right.

Elliott intended to cross through the goalmouth to seek a finisher, but it turned out to be an own goal by Villa's goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez who deflected inside his glove and bounced to the net.

The early gift from the opponent also offered Liverpool some momentum to post threats in the first ten minutes.

It appeared like Liverpool could dominate the match like it battled Hotspurs last week, but Villa didn’t mess up in such a crisis. Throughout the first half, Villa registered eight shots though it had less percentage of possession than Liverpool who had six.

The Later Crumble

We’ve cultivated a mindset while standing by Liverpool this season: Don’t be arrogant when our team takes the lead.

Apparently, it mostly makes sense. Villa stayed unfazed after the own goal, giving a quick response by Youri Tielemans in the 11th minute. Even though Liverpool then tallied two other goals to extend another lead, Villa rallied for another two back before the extra time.

Being led by Unai Emery, the Spanish manager concentrated on pressing and cutting down Liverpool’s small-range passes which was a key for handling defenders and transitioning.

In this matchup, Liverpool obviously didn’t make a good response while encountering such pressure.

Moreover, Liverpool failed to clear the danger most of the time. As the ball was still in the movement around the box, Liverpool allowed Villa to gain possession back through the high press and attack immediately.

Additionally, Liverpool’s faint defense was a warning sign of the imminent danger. Although Villa’s goal in the 51st minute was called off-side, the four defenders didn’t retrieve, leaving too much space for Villa to make a play by delivering a through pass.

Alisson, the goalkeeping ace for Liverpool, nearly committed a big mistake subsequently, served the ball shortly and forfeited the possession.

The messy situation was eventually solved by Trent Alexander-Arnold who strode backward, one step closer to the goal line, and kicked the rolling ball out of the zone.

But Liverpool soon collapsed on Alex Mac Allister’s mistake in the 84th minute. The Argentina International wasn’t able to collect the ball from Allison. It was good for the ball being deflected one step away from the feet but not for battling against Villa.

Calum Chambers stole it from Mac Allister and knocked it forward to Jhon Duran. The latter cut inside with a slight adjustment and slotted it to the right corner.

Just three minutes later. Moussa Diaby turned his body around and dribbled through the middle where four Liverpool defenders gathered. As Diaby sent the ball off, it hit Duran’s boot and bounced it to the net that Allison couldn’t react to. 

Liverpool’s losing advantage marked a crumble in the second half. Overall, Villa demonstrated a higher 3.36 xG with 16 chances created, while Liverpool, an offensive-oriented team, only crafted 12 chances with a fewer 1.73 xG. 

Noticeable Players: Cody Gakpo and Quansah

Last week against Tottenham, Gakpo made a comprehensive goal contribution: one goal and an assist.

He continued the prowess, finishing the team’s second goal of the match while being ready to ambush on the right of the crowd. This season thus far, Gakpo has tallied eight Premier League goals. 

Quansah, the 21-year English talent, doubted if he could decently implement the role of defender. But this time, he was able to gain some confidence back for the rest of the season after acquiring his first Premier League goal of his senior career.

The 6 '3'’ defensive back can provide some support in aerial plays. On his defensive side today, Quansah completed three tackles and two interceptions, handling most tasks when he faced attackers and blocking some menacing shots and passes away.