Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool: 7 talking points as Watkins hat-trick stuns champions

Liverpool fell to a humilating defeat at the hands of Aston Villa as an Ollie Watkins hat-trick stunned the reigning Premier League champions.

After going 27 games unbeaten on the way to the title last season, Jurgen Klopp's men have a cross against their name after only their fourth match – and in demoralising fashion.

It took just four minutes for them to fall behind, as goalkeeper Adrian's mistake gifted Ollie Watkins a goal via Jack Grealish's assist.

Watkins then fired his second soon after, cutting inside Joe Gomez and finding the top corner with a superb finish.

Mohamed Salah halved the deficit, but Villa's advantage was immediately restored as John McGinn's deflected volley found a way in, before Watkins headed in for his hat-trick.

Ross Barkley then made it five as his effort cannoned off a Reds player and over Adrian, before Grealish added two more, with Salah's strike in between nothing more than a consolation.

Here are the talking points from Villa Park.

1. Adrian no match for injured Alisson

Jurgen Klopp's side have looked almost faultless over the past two seasons, but one issue continues to be a problem.

After losing no.1 goalkeeper Alisson to injury – which ruled him out of the Villa clash and for some time to come – the Brazilian's deputy Adrian was put between the sticks.

Apart from Liverpool's two Carabao Cup ties this season, it was the first time Adrian had been selected since his two errors against Atletico Madrid last season.

Just four minutes in, he'd made another.

This time playing a hospital pass to Joe Gomez, allowing Grealish to lay in Watkins to score.

It's not the first time Adrian's error has cost Liverpool. It might not be the last either.

2. Watkins bags hat-trick

There was huge pressure on Ollie Watkins when he completed his club-record move to Villa.

After stepping up from the Championship he was yet to score in the Premier League when Liverpool came to visit.

But the £33million man silenced any doubters by bagging a perfect first-half hat-trick.

First the striker was in the right place to steer home Grealish's lay-off with his left-boot.

He then showed superb technique for his second, striking right-footed into the top corner, before completing his treble with a header from close range.

Some way to announce yourself in the division.

3. Concerning Gomez traits

Joe Gomez has developed into one of England's brightest defensive talents, but he had an awful game by his standards at Villa Park.

While he could hardly be to blame for Villa's first after Adrian's shocking pass, he could arguably have got tighter to Grealish to thwart the cross.

Then he was beaten all ends up by Watkins for the second, while displaying a worrying trait we have seen from him before.

Gomez allowed Watkins to cut inside him far too easily, in similar style to how Leeds' Jack Harrison did to score on the opening day.

He was later criticised by ex-Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher for trying, and failing, to catch Barkley offside, with the pundit later suggesting Gomez needed to come off before Klopp eventually put an end to his misery.

4. Barkley off with a bang

Ross Barkley could not have asked for his Aston Villa debut to go any sweeter.

The Scouser and former Everton star scored one and helped set up another on a day which will live long in his memory.

He was a constant threat, and his fizzing ball into the box for Watkins' third was sublime.

Barkley got a large slice of fortune for his goal, as his shot took a big deflection off Trent Alexander-Arnold to balloon up over Adrian and into the net, but it was no less than he deserved.

Things never quite worked out for the midfielder at Chelsea, but at Villa he now has the chance to play week-in, week-out.

If he carries on in this vein, it could prove to be a masterstroke from Villa boss Dean Smith.

5. Deflection perfection

Sometimes it's just one of those days.

Liverpool were dreadful, make no mistake.

But they will no doubt have wondered what more they could do when Villa scored a third goal from another huge deflection.

McGinn's effort came off Virgil van Dijk on the way in.

Barkley's shot then took the biggest change of direction as Adrian watched it sail over him.

Just as Salah looked to have restored a smidgen of pride, Grealish then struck one off Fabinho to make it six.

As far as deflections go, each goal was completely unavoidable.

But at least it wasn't a beach ball this time.

6. Liverpool's high line

Football fans and pundits were waxing lyrical about Liverpool's well-drilled press and persistently high defensive line against Arsenal.

Jurgen Klopp admitted after the game that those tactics were risky, but a risk worth taking.

Against Villa though, they backfired, as three of the hosts goals came from balls in behind the Reds' back four.

Gomez was beaten for pace by Watkins for his second, and in a desperate attempt to catch up with the Villa striker he allowed himself to be dribbled past too easily.

Barkley's whipped free-kick deep into Liverpool's box also caught their defence sleeping, as Watkins nodded in a drilled cross back in for his hat-trick.

Villa actually scored a similar goal against Liverpool on this ground last season, before the Reds snatched a late victory.

And Grealish ran through on goal unchallenged to round off the scoring, though by that time it was already over.

These tactics do leave Liverpool precariously open to conceding though, and this time they paid for it.

7. Merseyside derby up next

While Liverpool have the international break to put the demons of this defeat behind them, they'll have one eye on their next opponents.

In-form Everton are next up in the first Merseyside derby of the season on October 17, in a clash that now has all the makings of a classic showdown.

The fact the Toffees go into the tie joint top of the table and three points clear of their rivals will not be lost on Everton fans.

With Alisson expected to be out for the match too, Liverpool head to Goodison Park with a significant weakness.

Prepare for fireworks.

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