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In-depth Match Report: Toothless Liverpool Outplayed By A Dynamic Watford Side



Watford vs Liverpool: Match Report

Liverpool succumbed to a 3-0 loss against Watford in an embarrassing performance. Having said that, nothing, absolutely nothing can be taken away from Watford. The newly promoted side has been playing wonderfully this season. Perhaps Leicester being the surprise package of the season has taken away some deserved attention and praise from Watford, where the work of new manager Quique Flores and the owners is quite clearly paying dividends.

The visitors went into this game at the back of two draws and a loss. This game needed to be won. Klopp set out his team without a striker and hoped the front three of Lallana, Firmino and Coutinho could do damage similar to the games against Manchester City and Chelsea. It became pretty clear soon afterwards that not having a recognized striker on the pitch wasn’t going to work and Martin Skrtel’s injury saw Divock Origi coming on with Lucas going back to play in the defence alongside Mamadou Sakho, who was woeful. In his defence, Sakho clearly looked like he was rushed into playing because of Dejan Lovren’s injury.

It was a nightmare Premier League debut for Adam Bogdan who couldn’t latch onto the ball comfortably and Nathan Ake capitalized on the mistake and gave Watford an early lead. Again, in Bogdan’s defence, the goal shouldn’t have stood. However, like Klopp said, the goalkeeper shouldn’t have dropped the ball in the first place. Going a goal down just four minutes into the match put Watford in the driving seat and Liverpool didn’t look like they could ever turn it around in the first half. Watford’s second goal was scored by the Odion Ighalo and the damage was complete when he scored his second goal in the second half which ensured Watford’s win. It’s now a winless four-game run, where the Reds have failed to score in three of those games and have conceded seven goals in total.

Klopp spoke of his disappointment at the lack of reaction following the quick setback and later all the goals and he was absolutely right. His honeymoon period at the club is well and truly over – one point from the last available makes for an uncomfortable read – and the German said that he hoped this was his worst moment at the club. This was Liverpool’s worst performance all season, including Rodgers’ time at the club.

The players didn’t look like they were in the game. Only Jordan Henderson, and later Divock Origi showed some desire in the game. The rest of them looked passionless. It’s unfathomable how the same bunch scored six against Southampton and four against Manchester City.

Perhaps Klopp should have started with a striker, and now Divock Origi gives him a good case to. The Belgian has played well in the last few games and given Christian Benteke seems to be a squad player – for now – young Origi might lead the line in the upcoming games. Certainly, playing without a striker and hoping Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino will do the trick as they did against Manchester City didn’t work out for Klopp. In fact, the trio was extremely under-par for most parts of the game and only once or twice did they show any flashes of brilliance – unacceptable.

The game also illustrated how despite having two back-ups available, and one which cost the club 32.5GBP, Daniel Sturridge remains the club’s best striker and arguably the best player. Sturridge’s ability to stretch the defence is unparalleled among the strikers at Liverpool. He drifts out wide, cuts inside and when fit, is arguably the second best striker in the league, next only to Aguero. Origi is young, Ings is injured and perhaps if he was fit, he could have done the job since he started the season ever so well; and Benteke has been very static in the last few games which resulted in him being on the bench. With four striking options, it seems strange that Klopp would buy a new one in the winter. The best Liverpool could hope for is that Sturridge returns in the next couple of weeks and stays fit, which looks unimaginable given his injury record.

Needless to say, if Klopp was certain he wasn’t going to spend in the winter, this game would have changed his opinion. FSG are said to be open to give him funds and Liverpool definitely require a goalkeeper and a centre-back with urgency as the other spots can be still taken care of without reinforcements. Mamadou Sakho was rushed into the game, Martin Skrtel was rushed out of the game and Dejan Lovren who was playing his best games suffered an unfortunate injury in the previous game. This means Liverpool only have Kolo Toure as a fully fit option, who cannot play every game. At the moment, Joe Gomez’s injury seems even more unfortunate.

If there is one upside to the game, it’s that Klopp in just 90 minutes would have seen everything that could possibly go wrong in Liverpool’s matches. Sometimes the defence can go missing, sometimes there can be no impetus from the midfield, sometimes you can be out pressed by a team, sometimes your goalkeepers can have nightmares and sometimes your attackers just don’t do enough. It felt like a 90-minute compilation of all the worst moments of the Liverpool team in the last 18 months.

With a busy run of fixtures now coming in, it’s up to the German to rectify the problems. This Premier League season is extremely open and it seems like the top 4 race will go right down to the wire. Therefore, picking up just one point out of the last available nine might not affect the team as it would have some other time. It’s best for Klopp and the Liverpool team to chin up, rectify the problems of the last four games and approach the festive period with confidence that could propel them to better things.