Liverpool’s sensational Premier League unbeaten run came to a shocking end at Vicarage Road as Watford ran out 3-0 winners on Saturday night. Following an edgy first 45 minutes the Hornets really imposed their will in a crazy six-minute period where Ismaila Sarr scored a brace that he won’t soon forget. Club legend Troy Deeney added the third to ensure that Jurgen Klopp’s men have to wait a little bit longer before being crowned champions.
The Reds have an ability to control possession unlike the majority of top clubs across European football. They did the simple things well in terms of keeping it on the deck and finding intricate sequences when going forward, and they didn’t really rush in their decision making — alas, that was much more evident in the first half than the second.
Liverpool were bullied on and off the ball by Watford who got stuck in and introduced an element of doubt into the visitors’ play whenever they went into 50-50 challenges. They couldn’t get going from an attacking point of view with the Hornets restricting their movement, and it didn’t seem as if there was a plan B. At the back, their complacent defensive style finally came back to bite them.
Manager rating out of 10
5 – Some big questions are going to be raised regarding why Jurgen Klopp went with Dejan Lovren ahead of Joel Matip, but outside of that, he stuck to the status quo with the standard 4-3-3 and put a lot of face in his midfield — and it just didn’t pay off. He made positive substitutions but they just didn’t possess the strength in depth necessary to really get at Watford.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 5 — The popular keeper made a string of important saves but after being chipped for the second and playing an incredibly high line, it’s a game he’ll quickly want to forget.
DF Andrew Robertson, 5 — The Scot should’ve stuck to his man for the opening goal, and in a general sense, he was caught continually drifting out of position in an attempt to be the hero going forward.
DF Virgin van Dijk, 6 — He may have great distribution and a towering presence at the back, but you could argue he was caught napping with his positioning for Watford’s second goal.
DF Dejan Lovren, 3 — His first-half composure turned into a second-half disaster with the Croatian being too static for the first goal. From that point on he was caught chasing shadows for the second and showed poor strength in the air for the hosts’ third goal of the evening.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 4 — The defensive frailties of the local lad were on display from the first minute with Deulofeu causing him all kinds of problems. While that was bad, his shining moment came when he essentially passed the ball straight to Troy Deeney for the third goal.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 — There was simply no sense of authority in the middle of the park with Wijnaldum struggling to get his foot on the ball and make things happen.
MF Fabinho, 4 — When Jordan Henderson isn’t in this side, the effectiveness of the Brazilian decreases substantially. He was dispossessed on a handful of occasions and proved why he needs to drop back closer to the back four.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 4 — Ox always appears to throw all of his eggs into one basket with his surging runs into the box, and most of the time, he completely loses control of what he’s doing.
FW Sadio Mane, 5 — While he showed great vision with a few picture-perfect passes in the first half that wasn’t enough as Mane was completely marked out of the game.
FW Roberto Firmino, 5 — Carried the ball into dangerous positions fairly effectively every now and then, but it simply wasn’t enough under the pressure of a smothering Watford defence.
FW Mohamed Salah, 5 — There wasn’t even a sniff of a Salah masterclass tonight as he largely went missing after the first 15 minutes of the game.
MF Adam Lallana, 6 — The former Southampton star was able to inject some life into Liverpool upon being introduced, including a stinging shot that clipped the post.
FW Divock Origi, 5 — Origi wasn’t given the kind of delivery he needs to make an impact upon being introduced in the second half.
MF Takumi Minamino, N/A — The belief was that Minamino could serve as Liverpool’s ace up the sleeve, but he seemed far too trepidatious on the ball.