Football News

Liverpool’s six-goal thriller at Villa Park encapsulates Jurgen Klopp’s final season

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:00, 14 May 2024

Jurgen Klopp could only look at the positives after Liverpool snatched a point from the jaws of victory on Monday evening.

The one-time Premier League title chasers had been 3-1 up against Champions League hopefuls Aston Villa before conspiring to concede twice in three minutes.

Emiliano Martínez conceded the earliest Premier League own goal since April 2014 to put Liverpool ahead before Youri Tielemans equalised. Cody Gakpo and Jarell Quansah restored and furthered the Reds’ lead before the Jhon Durán show.

Durán, who came on in the 79th minute, became the first player to net a Premier League brace against Liverpool as a substitute since Leroy Sane for Manchester City in September 2017.

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“Jhon Duran is a special player. We have to try to help him. He is a good guy, and he needs a team behind him. He is getting our demands better. He was very clinical, and today was important for him,” Villa head coach Unai Emery said.

Villa are leading the race for a spot in next season’s Champions League, standing five points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, who have two games left to play. Villa will be hoping that Manchester City, the reigning champions and title favourites, can help their cause by defeating their top-four rivals in a match on Tuesday night.

As for Liverpool, it was a microcosm of their season. Even so, it was just the second time Liverpool had failed to win a Premier League game, having led by 2+ goals as late as the 84th minute and also drawing 3-3 with Southampton in August 2000.

But crucially, Liverpool conceded 2+ goals in four consecutive Premier League games for the first time since April/May 2014. Indeed, only between February and April 1999 did the Reds have a longer such run in the competition (five in a row).

“I don’t feel frustrated. Maybe I should, but I just don’t. I am really happy,” Klopp commented after the game.

He did see his side net three goals, meaning Liverpool has scored 140 goals across all competitions this season. This makes 2023-24 the second-highest-scoring campaign in the club’s history after 2021-22 (147).

“For me, the story of the season is that the boys have really, really good character and a sensational attitude – that’s why we were here today and that’s why we have now 79 points,” he added.

“I know nobody wants to hear it, but being this season the third-best team in the league from where we came from is a statement as well. It’s improvement with a lot of changes and I like it.

“I am not over the moon about it but obviously for a week or two we’ve had to accept we cannot be the best or the second-best team in the league, [but] that’s a good basis for the future and that’s all you can ask for.”

The incredible Klopp era ends this weekend as Liverpool host Wolves at Anfield.

He indelibly leaves behind the club in a stronger position than he found them. Having joined at the start of the 2015/16 campaign, in eight completed seasons, Liverpool has never finished below fifth with four top-three finishes, ending the club’s decades-long wait for their 19th championship.

Under his leadership, Liverpool amassed 208 wins from 333 matches in England’s top division, with Liverpool registering 712 goals (2.2 per game) and conceding 333 (a goal every 90.5 minutes).