Football News: Watford v Liverpool Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective

 

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Watford v Liverpool Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective
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Watford v Liverpool

First game of the season, but everything about it seemed a bit lacklustre, maybe because it is an early kick off? The early kick offs never seem to have the same atmosphere as they should. Certainly Watford did not struggle the way Liverpool did though, they were aggressive and hard working from the kick off, while Liverpool still looked asleep and like they were still in friendly mode.

The first half was really poor by Liverpool and Watford deserved to go in at half time ahead. They were the better team and Liverpool offered little other than the goal they did score. Defensively the team looked shambolic, no cohesion or organisation at all, offensively they were slow and only once did any link up play show any promise or signs that the players had even met before today. That once brought the goal.

Second half was completely different, Liverpool were on the front foot and creating chances, scoring two goals in quick succession, the first a penalty. Unfortunately it was the same old story of missed chance after missed chance, which cost the team in the end. Silly mistakes once again were the downfall of the team in defensive situations. It was a lot like watching us last season, when it is flowing, the attacking play is breathtaking but the defending is hopeless and still has not been addressed.


Klopp - Got it wrong I am afraid. Sent the team out with no fire in their belly at kick off and paid for it badly. For me, that is a recurring problem as bad as the defending, the whole lethargy of the team in the first half, allowing opponents to get on the front foot. Added to that, the subs were not ideal, I understand he is trying to use 'game management' when the team is ahead, but it is a term and style I hate. The best teams manage games by not overcommitting, not by bringing in extra defenders or a midfielder for an attacker etc. Game management should just be a natural thing, not something that a manager needs to enforce, unless their name is Tony Pulis or David Moyes. What we need is a team that adapts and thinks for itself, that understands that their instructions will sometimes need to be thrown out of the window and the strongest headers of the ball should be in the 6 yard box, not an attacker who is ok in the air but not top class. That a high press is an attacking tactic which should be dropped at 3-2 up, away from home with moments left to play, as it can leave a huge hole behind when the midfield applies it in your own half when being attacked.


Mignolet - I am hoping that was just first game rustiness, as he looked back to old Migs, dithering and dallying on the ball and failing to command his box. He is the goalkeeper and should be organising the defence, so a lot of the problems have to come down to him. He is the one that should be making sure there is no gaps in front of him, that the best headers in the opposition are picked up or blocked off from making free runs. Migs also needs to command the 6 yard box, if the ball is coming in there, he should be clearing it out, even if it means he has to smash through 10 players. It is his job to make them panic seeing him coming out and want to get out of his way. Right now, nice guy Migs is the one who gets out of the way.


Alexander-Arnold - had a subdued game as Watford made sure to block off the fullbacks and stop them marauding forward as they want to. Made a few errors with clearances, but overall he was promising. Hopefully a learning experience for him. One thing he did bring to the team was set piece delivery. Something we have missed for a long time now.


Matip - always weak defensively, but usually his play on the ball can make up for it. Not against Watford, as his passing was poor too. What annoyed me most about him was his lack of effort getting back when he failed in a challenge on the halfway line. He strolled, making no effort to get back in. That, for me, is unforgivable from a defender. In my opinion, he is a major problem in the defending from set pieces, he should be attacking every ball coming near his area, but he stood and watched, leaving Firmino to deal with it. Terrible performance from him, imo.


Lovren - mixed game for him, his usual attempts to bully a strong attacker sometimes worked and sometimes failed spectacularly. He needs to learn when to stand up and when to throw himself in.


Moreno - looked a much better player than he had done before his long absence from the side. His positioning was better, he was not just bombing forward, he was waiting for the right moment and he was more defensively responsible. Still has a tendency to make rash challenges though, which caused a few problems.


Henderson - he looked like a player coming back from a long injury lay-off, which of course he is. His passing was off, his tackling was off, he just looked rusty. Hopefully it will come back, preferably quickly, and it is not an after effect of his injury problems. Poor game for him though.


Wijnaldum - it is always the same with Wijnaldum, mostly his work goes unseen, with the occasional good piece of skill thrown in. Looked absolutely lost when moved to the left side of the front 3 though. Overall, he was not at his best at all, did not get forward enough or offer enough either defensively or offensively.


Can - slow start but then grew into the game. Unfortunately all his good flicks and tricks were undone in most fans' eyes with one loose backheel leading to a goal for Watford. Overall he was the best of the midfield trio.


Salah - decent game, always a threat, but rushed most of his chances. Hopefully his debut goal will give him confidence for the rest of the season.


Firmino - always working, he gets everywhere, though, despite scoring a penalty and getting an assist for Salah's goal, he will probably be remembered for not attacking the ball in the 6 yard box when defending a corner. The whole game changed on his substitution. We are half the team without him on the pitch.


Mane - not at his dangerous best, still a decent game and a goal though for him. However for a player of his quality he was quiet.


Subs:

Origi - replaced Firmino in the 81st minute and, much as I like Origi, he offered nothing. The whole game changed, as Firmino was running the show and the team faded without him.

Milner - came on for Salah in the 86th minute, not sure where he was meant to be playing or what he was meant to be doing. Not sure he knew either.

Gomez - odd sub to change the right backs in the 91st minute, though Alexander-Arnold was on a yellow card. However a mistake by Gomez led to the equaliser. Just one of those things that happens with young players and there is no way of knowing that Alexander-Arnold would not have made the exact same mistake.

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