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Alisson and Salah score a 9/10 as gritty Liverpool overcome resilient Watford

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Liverpool 2 – 0 Watford: Player Ratings

Liverpool once again dug deep against a dogged opponent and extended their lead to 10 points over second-placed Leicester City. On paper, this should have been a walkover, at opposite ends of a table and separated by 37 points never before have two teams met this early in the season with such a wide margin between them.

The game proved to be anything but as Watford gave Liverpool a run for their money and threatened to unsettle the feel-good factor permeating around Anfield. Twice in the first half Watford were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as both Abdoulaye Doucouré and Ismaila Sarr scuffed their shots when it was easier to score.

A cagey and hotly contested first half swung in Liverpool’s favor when Firmino, Mane and Salah combined for a lightning-quick counter from a Watford corner to put Liverpool up by a goal at the break.

Watford to their credit came out with renewed vigor in the second half and would have equalized had it not been for Alisson Becker who made easy work of a one on one vs Gerard Deulofeu.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his second goal (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

Mane looked to have sealed the tie only for the goal to be chalked off by VAR for offside. Another close call that evoked emotions similar to Firmino’s disallowed effort at Villa Park earlier in the season.

Liverpool had further chances to extend their lead but heavy touches by Salah and Firmino let them down when both of them were through on goal. On the other end, Virgil van Dijk almost put the ball past his own goalkeeper and would have been relieved to see the ball go wide of the goal.

At 1-0 Watford were still in the game and from the resulting corner, Deulofeu hit the bar and Sarr volleyed wide.

The game was settled in the 90th minute when Salah diverted Origi’s shot past Christian Kabesele to score his and Liverpool’s second of the game and finish off the tie.

Watford gave a good account of themselves, but this Liverpool team manages to keep finding ways to win games even when they are not at their best.

Wijnaldum had to be substituted in the second half for what looks to be a muscle injury and his participation in the Club World Cup seems to be in doubt.

Roberto Firmino of Liverpool crosses the ball under pressure from Christian Kabasele of Watford (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Here’s how the Liverpool players fared at Anfield

Liverpool Player Ratings

Alisson Becker ( 9/10)

He makes it look all too easy. Made crucial saves at key points in the game to help maintain his side’s lead. Played a crucial role in Liverpool coming away with all 3 points.

Trent Alexander Arnold (6/10)

A rather low key outing by his standards. Provided width down the right. Deulofeu had the beating of him on more than one occasion.

Joe Gomez (7/10)

A good outing for him where he made a block to prevent a certain goal. Good positioning also helped him prevent a dangerous Watford counter. Did well at one on ones.

Virgil van Dijk (7/10)

A typical performance by the Dutchman. Wasn’t overly troubled by the Watford attack and got most of his decisions right. Lucky not to score an own goal with a terrible backpass that went just wide of Alisson’s goal.

James Milner (6/10)

A thoroughly unspectacular if not solid performance by the Englishman. He started the game as a left-back but moved into the midfield after Wijnaldum’s injury. Booked for a poor challenge on Sarr.

Jordan Henderson (6/10)

Worked hard as usual and matched Watford’s physicality, but largely a forgettable performance by the skipper. Booked for pulling back Deulofeu as he looked to break away.

Gini Wijnaldum (6/10)

Was the best player in the Liverpool midfield. Performed his defensive duties well. Substituted off in the second half with a potential muscle injury. His performance in the Club World Cup is now a doubt.

Xherdan Shaqiri (6/10)

Not a performance for the highlight reels and Watford closed him down well preventing him from having any impact. Provided a brilliant cross for Mane’s goal, only for it to be chalked off for offside. Replaced by Chamberlain in the second half.

Roberto Firmino (5/10)

The Brazilian had another afternoon to forget. Missed a  couple of chances to put the game to bed. Did well with an overhead kick to get the ball to Mane kick-starting the counter than led to Liverpool’s first goal. Replaced late in the game by Divock Origi.

Sadio Mane (8/10)

Caused problems for Watford with his direct play. Got the assist for the first goal and was involved in the buildup for the second. Pretty unlucky to have his brilliant header ruled out by VAR.

Mohamad Salah (8/10)

Showed composure to score both the goals on the day and should have had a hattrick, only for a heavy first touch to let him down when through on goal. Ingenious finish for his second.

Substitutes

Andy Robertson (6.5/10)

Given a much-needed rest. Forced to come on in the second half due to Wijnaldum’s injury. Put in a few inviting crosses  into the Watford penalty area.

Alex Oxlande Chamberlain (6/10)

Replaced Shaqiri for the last 20 minutes. Didn’t do much better.

Divock Origi (7/10)

Replaced Firmino late on. Fortunate to get an assist as his mishit was turned in by Salah

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Liverpool

Liverpool vs Man United: Preview, Team News and more ahead of epic clash

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Xherdan Shaqiri Liverpool

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Manchester United

Liverpool take on arch-rivals Manchester United at Anfield in a game that should on paper show the gulf in quality between the teams at the moment.

It will be anything but. The arch-rivals will go toe to toe in a hard-fought contest with bragging rights up for grabs.

United remain the only side so far this season who have managed to take points off Liverpool in the English Premier League. They could very well have taken all 3 had it not been for a late equalizer by substitute Adam Lallana in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford.

Anfield, however, represents a daunting setting with Liverpool not having lost at home since 2017. Liverpool start as strong favorites, but Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has shown twice now that he is capable of negating Klopp’s system.

Adam Lallana Liverpool Manchester United
Adam Lallana equalizes for Liverpool against Manchester United (Image credit: Getty)

A victory will give Liverpool a 17 point lead over Manchester City with the Reds needing just 35 points from the last 17 games to guarantee the title.

Liverpool will welcome Joel Matip and Fabinho back into the first-team fold for the first time since November. Neither of them are expected to start the game while Fabinho looks the more likely to come off the bench.

Solksjaer, on the other hand, has had to add Rashford to his ever-growing injury list. The striker was forced to come off with a back injury against Wolves in the FA Cup third-round replay.

United have been inconsistent this season but have done well to win against Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea. Liverpool are not likely to go into the game overconfident, but should not show United too much respect as they had done in the last two matches against them.

The matchup may not have the same gravitas of old and is a testament of how far apart both the clubs are. There will be no short of competitiveness on the pitch though,with both sides eager to get one over the other.

Liverpool and Manchester United are separated by an incredible 27 points with Liverpool having played a game less. None of that should matter this Sunday if history is anything to go by.

Team News

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s injury worries will be eased with Joel Matip, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri back in training. Dejan Lovren, Naby Keita and James Milner remain unavailable for selection with Klopp having an otherwise full squad to select from.

powerhouse midfielder Fabinho looks likely on the bench as he attempts to regain match fitness. Liverpool are likely to start Lallana in midfield given the midfielder’s impressive run of performances.

Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will sorely miss Paul Pogba’s quality and Scott Mctominay’s energy in midfield with both midfielders out injured. Marcos Rojo, Axel Tuanzebe and Luke Shaw are also set to miss out on the Trip to Liverpool whereas Eric Bailey has an outside chance of making it. It is unlikely that the defender will feature even if fit, owing to his lack of match fitness.

Star striker Marcus Rashford limped off against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday but could feature against the Reds. Harry Maguire could be set to take the armband with Ashley Young moving to Inter Milan.

Predicted Lineups

Liverpool XI

Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Manchester United XI

David De Gea, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams, Nemanja Matic, Fred, Andrea Pereira, Juan Mata, David James, Anthony Martial

Key Battles

Jordan Henderson vs Nemanja Matic

Recently voted England Men’s player of the year, Jordan Henderson has been in the form of his life. His ability to win the midfield has powered Liverpool through tricky fixtures such as Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson

The Liverpool captain’s ability to recycle possession and connect the defense to the attack frees up Liverpool’s fullbacks and attackers to push the opposition back. The lack of Scott McTominay’s energy in midfield should be to Liverpool’s advantage. In the absence of the Scot, United lack a player who can keep up with Liverpool’s mobile midfield three.

Matic is a seasoned veteran who will bring years of experience to the fore. If Henderson gains control of the midfield early on, he will not relinquish it and United could be in for a long night.

Mohamed Salah vs Brandon Williams

With Ashley Young on his way to Inter Milan, youngster Brandon Williams is expected to start at left-back. A promising player who did well against Wolves, he will find his hands full against Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool should look to target the 19-year-old’s lack of experience and Salah’s intelligence and pace should give him ample opportunities to do. With Trent Alexander-Arnold also likely to push forward it could be a long day for the youngster.

Salah Liverpool

Putting pressure on the United left flank can help draw players from midfield to support Williams. This should help Liverpool outnumber their opponents in midfield and seize control of the game.

The duel on the left flank could might as well be the defining match-up of the game.

Anthony Martial vs Joe Gomez

United are expected to play on the counter and make use of the pace of their forwards. With Virgil van Dijk virtually unplayable on his day, United are likely to target Joe Gomez on the counter.

Joe Gomez Liverpool

Anthony Martial has shown time and again how dangerous he can be. The forward in full flow will be more than a match for Gomez. The Liverpool defender should not fall for Martial’s ability to cut into a central area. The Reds goal should be under no threat as long as Gomez pushes Martial wide in a one on one.

If the Liverpool midfield can gain control of the midfield,it will limit United’s ability to free up runners to support Martial.

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ARTICLES

3-goal League One starlet expresses shock at being linked with Liverpool

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Coventry City defender Sam McCallum shocked by Liverpool interest

Coventry City defender Sam McCallum has expressed his shock at being linked with a move to European champions Liverpool. (h/t Mirror)

The youngster has impressed at Coventry this season. He has made 21 appearances and has scored 3 goals for the League One side. (h/t Whoscored)

The defender was happy at the links but dismissed the chances of the transfer going through. Championship leaders Leeds United are also interested in the player.

Sam McCallum

The defender, who primarily plays as a left-back, is also adept on the other flank. He has made 32 appearances for the Sky Blues since being signed from Herne Bay in 2017.

Liverpool are in the market for a back-up to Andrew Robertson. Given the club’s focus on signing exciting young talent, it comes as no surprise that McCallum is one of the names under consideration.

The Reds secured the services of Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg in the summer as the club look to build upon an era of continued success

More Liverpool News

Jurgen Klopp will not sell any first-team players this January
Liverpool enquire about ‘the new Andrea Pirlo’ Sandro Tonali
Liverpool to recall striker Taiwo Awoniyi from Mainz loan

The Reds have so far signed Takumi Minamino and Joe Hardy in the January transfer window. Minamino will add much-needed quality in depth to the first team whereas Hardy has been placed in the Liverpool reserves.

Hardy scored twice on his Liverpool Under-23 debut in the 5-0 victory over Southampton Under-23s.

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Liverpool’s Champions League hero linked with move to join PL rivals

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Divock Origi

Wolverhampton Wanderers are interested in Divock Origi

Liverpool striker Divock Origi has emerged as a transfer target for Wolverhampton Wanderers. (h/t Liverpool Echo)

The Belgian international joined the Reds from Lille in 2014. He has established himself as a cult hero following his Champions League heroics against Barcelona and Tottenham last season.

Origi has made 26 appearances for Liverpool this season, with the majority of them coming off the bench. The striker has scored 5 goals and 1 assist so far this season. (h/t Whoscored)

divock origi

Wolves are currently 7th in the English Premier League and look set to qualify for the Europa League next season. They can also consider themselves to have an outside chance of finishing top four if things go their way.

Raul Jimenez has established himself as the first-choice striker. The addition of Origi will add another effective threat to a free-flowing Wolves team as they look to climb up the table.

Origi stepped up for Liverpool numerous times last season. His winners against Everton and Newcastle coupled with his performances against Barcelona and Tottenham will live long in Reds folklore.

The striker scored a last-minute equalizer against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup this season as Liverpool went on to win the match on penalties.

The 24-year-old has made 125 appearances for Liverpool and has scored 33 goals. (h/t Whoscored)

More Liverpool News

Jurgen Klopp will not sell any first-team players this January
Liverpool enquire about ‘the new Andrea Pirlo’ Sandro Tonali
Liverpool to recall striker Taiwo Awoniyi from Mainz loan

Origi has proved himself to be a dependable player for Klopp to call on and is unlikely to leave the club this January.

Jurgen Klopp has already stated that no first-team players will be sold this month as Liverpool chase a first league title in 30 years.

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