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Football News: Watford v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective

Watford v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective
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Watford v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective


After an early spell of pressure from Watford, Liverpool established dominance and the Hornets mainly sat back, getting deeper and deeper, with usually 8 strung across their penalty box defending. Then Henderson got sent off and Watford gave it a go but conceded a 3rd to end their hopes, though they never really seemed to be on the verge of getting back into it, no matter how much Gracia claims the match was closer than the result, it really was not. It was reminiscent of the old Liverpool of the 1980's, dominating the ball and being patient, waiting for the chances to come and not trying to force them.

Once the early attempt to press was weathered, with a couple of little hiccoughs, such as the loose pass from Alisson to Firmino which was picked off, the game was only going to end in one result. Watford lacked belief and quality, while Liverpool lacked neither. It was really as comfortable as the score suggests, until the sending off lifted Watford, even then they were often too deep and Deeney was getting no support. The full backs were getting forward at will for Liverpool and the big worry was that they never used the ball well enough to make it even more comfortable.

Also have to mention the referee, Jon Moss, who was once again abysmal. The slightest contact of the upper body he was giving free kicks, even if there was no foul in evidence, then he booked Henderson after the foul was actually the other way. However the sending off was the right decision, taken on its own, as Henderson was wound up and clearly made a foul that deserved a yellow. If there is a worse referee in the English leagues than Moss, then they should be immediately removed from refereeing ranks, because the man is truly terrible. How he gets to work in an elite league is shocking.

It was the kind of win that in previous seasons the team would not have picked up, instead they would have found a way to throw it away. This season the team find ways to win games they used to find a way not to win. That can only be a good thing.


Klopp - made a terrible, basic error in leaving Henderson on when it was clear he was going to get sent off. I am quite sure I was not the only one who could see it coming as it was clear that Henderson had lost it with the ref. He had the tactical play spot on, he chose the right one to take the free kick but that one error was so huge it could have cost LFC the points. Rating: 6.


Alisson - did make one poor pass, resulting from them applying a press and no one offering themselves for him to pass to. Other than that, difficult to fault his performance as he pulled out a save when it was needed. His big problem is that he is not exactly having to do a lot to prove himself. Eight clean sheets in the league but he has barely broken sweat yet. Rating: 7.


Alexander-Arnold - starting off in trouble, but he gradually took control of the right flank and was able to raid forward at will and what a free kick! Even putting aside a beauty of a free kick, Alexander-Arnold had a good game, taking the fight to Watford and constantly finding space down the right and making the most of it. Rating: 8.5.


Lovren - looks more like the centre back that everyone thought he was at Southampton, than the error-prone defender that first showed up at Liverpool, by the game. Even popping up as a tricky winger at one point. With van Dijk alongside him, Lovren looks so much better. Deeney got little change out of him and ended up dropping deeper to try and get the ball. Rating: 7.5.


van Dijk - avoided those moment of laxness that sometimes creep in and was excellent, bullying Deeney on those few occasions he even tried to battle against him. You could see how much Deeney hates playing against him as he did everything he could to avoid tangling with the big number 4. Rating: 7.5.


Robertson - had a few dodgy moments, consistently allows himself to be dragged into midfield when defending, left a foot out in the penalty box, which could very well have been a penalty and usually made the wrong choices on the ball. In fact, after a great burst down the left he made the wrong choice to take one too many touches and got lucky to put it across. Having said that, despite not making the most of his chances to cross and then finally producing a good ball across by sheer luck, he played well. Robertson was a constant menace down the left and just needs to start getting his delivery right to be looking at being MOTM in games like this. Rating: 7.5.


Wijnaldum - once more he did his favourite trick of trying to challenge from the wrong side and just made it more difficult for anyone else to get a foot in. He has to learn that you cannot make physical contact in a challenge from the wrong side, you either first get goal side and then go shoulder to shoulder, so that any breaking ball going towards the goal you are going to reach ahead of the opponent or you avoid contact and just toe it away, like Henderson did at one point, so that you have a chance of getting to the loose ball ahead of your opponent. Once you are in that shoulder to shoulder battle, you are going to find it nearly impossible to get to a ball on the wrong side of them, as they have their body inbetween. You are also helping them towards the goal, your body is pushing them in that direction, which is exactly the way you do not want them going! It is basics, get goal side or do not get involved in physical contact unless you are making a Firmino-style hook challenge.

Other than that, he did ok, linked up play, but he is not clever enough defensively, nor aggressive enough offensively to ever stand out. He has odd moments in games when he does something brilliant but it is not enough, he needs to do it more. The quality is there to produce better, but he is not producing it often enough. Rating: 6.5.


Henderson - was playing well up until the red mist descended. I know he was hard done by for the first yellow, but you have to channel that anger more positively, rather than allowing it to take over and get you a second yellow. For one thing, arguing with a referee the way he did, no matter how in the right you are and no matter how much of a useless beach ball the referee is, is never going to end well for a player. It is especially silly when you are 2-0 up, cruising to a well-deserved victory and the referee has shown in previous matches he has taken that he does not actually know the laws of the game anyway. You just have to laugh at his poor decisions because Moss is clearly a buffoon of the highest order. Rating: 6.


Shaqiri - the big issue with him in that game was that he never got enough of the ball. Shaqiri produced some lovely passes and was generally extremely good, excellent even. His vision and passing range are really coming to the fore and he is avoiding the extravagant shoot on sight policy that hindered him at Stoke City. Rating: 8.5.


Salah - his form is definitely coming back. Though he saw a lot less of the ball than usual, his off the ball runs are excellent, his movement in general is superb and he has an excellent first touch, which allows him to keep the ball well. Yet another goal as well. Rating: 8.


Firmino - was fouled to win the free kick Alexander-Arnold scored from, as well as adding the final goal and was generally very good. Showed some lovely pieces of skill, nice one-twos and link up play, though he did drop off a little too deep in the early stages when Watford were pressing high. Overall though, his movement and workrate is one of the keys to Liverpool's form right now. Rating: 8.5.


Mane - his work was overshadowed by the other 3 forwards, but he was also very good. Lots of unselfish running to create space for Robertson or to open up a gap for someone else. Some nice touches, tracked back well. He has grown into a complete team player since the arrival of Salah. Though I do find his after-match celebrations of cleaning the bogs in his local mosque an odd choice, it is nice to see he is willing to do these kind of things, when so many modern day footballers are just spoilt children. Rating: 8.



Milner - oddly he was brought on in place of Shaqiri in the 74th minute, even though it was clear Henderson was heading for an early bath. Big mistake by Klopp, especially as Milner never looked comfortable in the role he was asked to play. Rating: 5.5.

Fabinho - Salah was sacrificed as Klopp looked to shore thingsup in the 86th minute. Had little time to make much difference, barely had time to figure out his role before it was being changed again. Rating: 5.5.

Matip - brought on in the dying seconds to waste time and provide more protection in front of the back four, though barely got time to even get into position, nor was he called upon as Watford had given up at that stage. Rating: 5.

Written by Tris Burke November 26 2018 12:41:30


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