Three positive takeaways from Liverpool’s loss to Watford
It was a difficult defeat for fans to fathom, but sometimes the lessons from defeat can ensure we learn the lessons we would not have otherwise. It took a 4-1 humbling at Tottenham Hotspur three years ago for Klopp to fix the Liverpool defence.
It’s debatable if he would have otherwise, but the Liverpool manager has shown that he is willing to learn from his defeats as much as look to improve upon his victories.
Watford deserved their victory after completely outplaying us from start to finish. The Reds were uncharacteristically poor, but claiming that to be the reason would be doing a grave injustice to the Hornets.
It would also be a casual dismissal of the issues plaguing the team, preventing us from rectifying it to ensure thunder doesn’t strike twice. We take a look at three positives that have come out of the setback against Watford City
1. Helps to keep the hunger
The Reds have at times looked complacent. With a 22-point-lead at the top of the table, Liverpool holds all the aces in the race for the title, but have at times looked too casual rather than their razor-focused selves we are used to.
The defeat will be a wake-up call for the team and the players will not want to experience such a humiliating defeat again. It’s not usual for a team to defeat Liverpool 3-0 and deservedly so. It is now up to the players to prove that this was a one-off rather than something more sinister.
Liverpool still needs 12 more points to be certain of the title and this should serve as a warning that the job isn’t done yet. With the FA Cup clash and the Champions League second leg against Atletico Madridcoming up, Klopp’s side will do well to regain their hunger quickly.
2. Tweaking tactics to increase options
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have often been accused on falling apart when in need of a plan B. The Reds were completely shutdown by Watford who successfully managed to isolate the Reds’ front three.
Rather than try to change gears, the Merseysiders kept trying to do the same things while expecting different results. Klopp’s system places specific demands of players with each position fulfilling a certain function. The German has to his credit tweaked the way his team plays over the years,but you can’t help but see that the core belief remains the same with set patterns of play.
The team has struggled whenever the opposition has managed to stymie the German’s tactical responsibilities on certain players. For example, Jordan Henderson may not be the world’s best midfielder, but it is difficult to see the midfield overwhelmed this easily had the skipper been present.
Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain for all his talent just wasn’t able to cope with Watford’s pressure and kept making the same runs and mistakes.
Liverpool’s quality in individuals has helped the club out of a number of sticky situations, but it doesn’t necessarily work all the time and a plan B or a Plan C could be the difference between victory or defeat.
Klopp learned his lessons from 2017-18 to build a different beast the following season. This loss at Vicarage road could be just the catalyst to take Liverpool further up a level.
Liverpool’s first team is stacked with some of the world’s best players. The bench, however, does not inspire the same quality. The likes of Divock Origi are good players in their own right, but not necessarily a game-changer.
The Belgian played a key role off the bench last season and rightly deserved all the plaudits that came his way. He, however, fails to perform at a consistent level making him at best a promising option rather than a dependable one.
Klopp has insisted that the team does not require tweaking, maybe in its current XI it doesn’t. But then Liverpool should look at players who can also help the team play different systems. It shouldn’t just be a case of replacing players in a 4-3-3 where the players are substituted without changing any tactics.
Watford were very comfortable against the Liverpool tactics today, rather than swapping personnel for similar roles, having a player come on to change the system employed could have been a better solution
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Liverpool are currently one of the hottest destinations for some of the world’s best players. The club should take advantage of iit to ensure that a steady flow of talent keeps coming in.
It is a matter of debate if Timo Werner could have come on to make a difference today, but there is no doubt that the German is a better player than Origi and is more likely to have influenced the game.
The loss at Tottenham three years ago prompted Liverpool to go big on Virgil van Dijk while the heartbreak at Kyiv led to the Reds signing Alisson Becker. Here’s hoping that Vicarage Road laid the foundations for Werner.