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‘Liverpool still the team to beat despite Aston Villa mauling’ – Owen feels Reds should remain ‘buoyant’ after 7-2 defeat

Liverpool remain “the team to beat in the Premier League” despite their humbling 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa, says Michael Owen.

The defending champions were put to the sword in spectacular style during their most recent outing.

Alarming defensive flaws were exposed by a buoyant Villa side, with the likes of Ollie Watkins, Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish running riot.

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It is not the first time this season that Jurgen Klopp’s side have looked vulnerable in defence, with questions being asked of a system that favours a risky high line approach.

Tweaks may be made on the back of a remarkable reversal in the West Midlands that saw Liverpool swept aside by a team that only just scraped clear of the relegation zone in 2019-20.

Klopp has shown in the past that he is capable of fixing any supposed faults in his ranks, with his Reds side becoming a dominant force as a result.

Owen believes any issues will be addressed during the international break, allowing Liverpool to bounce back stronger.

A Merseyside derby date with high-flying Everton is next up for them, with a short trip to Goodison Park set to be made on October 17.

Virgil van Dijk, who endured an evening to forget against Villa, has already stated that focus is now fixed on the Toffees.

Owen expects Liverpool to offer a positive response in that contest, with the former Reds striker seeing no cause for concern at Anfield despite a painful loss being suffered.

He told Premier League Productions: “If I was a Liverpool fan watching him [Van Dijk], I’m buoyant.

“I’ve just seen my team lose 7-2 and you’re disappointed and all of a sudden you see Virgil van Dijk come out and be as positive as he was – admitting that they were poor, hands up.

“But you’re still proud of what he’s saying, he’s giving praise in the right areas and he’s talking about all roads leading to the derby now.

“Yes, really disappointing night for Liverpool but, in the grand scheme of things, it’s one game in the season. There’s a long way to go and they are still the team to beat in the Premier League.”

Liverpool are not the only side to have found themselves on the wrong end of a shock scoreline this season, with fellow title hopefuls Manchester City having already gone down 5-2 at home to Leicester while Manchester United were crushed 6-1 by Tottenham on Sunday.