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.
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.
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.
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