Watford diminish Liverpool’s invincible run in some style


Watford end Liverpool’s hopes for invincibility with a 3-0 thrashing.

Circumstance dictated the outcome for Watford. Of course there’s never a good time to play the champions elect, but with results potentially going their way, a win would be simply massive for the Hornets.

With Crystal Palace defeating Brighton at The Amex and Bournemouth dropping two points at home to Chelsea, Nigel Pearson’s men hoped to recoup the form from his arrival.

The underlying narrative for Liverpool was the Mo Salah/Luis Suarez battle. Both have 69 in a Liverpool shirt in Premier League football, with the Egyptian completing that feat in 12 less games and without the baggage of the Uruguayan’s reputation.

Liverpool’s team news provided the shock absence of Joe Gomez and Naby Keita due to knocks, with Dejan Lovren and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming in. Academy starlets Ki-Jana Hoever and Curtis Jones come on to the bench.

The hosts ensured the return of marauding full-back Kiko Femenia and record signing Ismaila Sarr, who started the match.

Watford hadn’t scored against Liverpool since August 2017 – a six goal thriller which saw Miguel Britos nab an added time equaliser. Since, the Reds have hit 15 without reply.

It was the hosts who started the game well – not in terms of possession, but chance wise.

Former Everton man Gerard Deulofeu was causing the right-sided Liverpool defenders, Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold, serious trouble. He firstly tested Alisson at his near post, to which the Brazilian passed with ease. He then misled Liverpool’s young right-back to shoot on his right, only for his effort to be centimetres over the bar.

The Reds failed to maintain any sort of flow in the opening 25 minutes. Firmino slipping like his boots had been greased, the complete over-commitment from Lovren and Alexander-Arnold.

Their blushes from Deulofeu would be shortened. The Spaniard fell awkwardly on his ankle and unfortunately was stretchered off – he was replaced by Roberto Pereyra. We wish him the best of luck – it didn’t look nice at all.

It would be interesting to see how the game would pan out after Deulofeu’s injury – it was anything but as the half progressed.

The only other chance again fell for Watford – with Alisson twice denying Troy Deeney. Watford had not only had the best chances, but they had been the better team. In a dour game. So seemingly not that much of a compliment, but Pearson’s men were level at half time – and with a cracking performance so far to boot.

They had restricted Liverpool to only one shot in the half – level with Chelsea in January 2017 as the worst in Klopp’s reign. Not forgetting this was prime Antonio Conte Chelsea, who went on to win 93 points in 2016/17. Not bad company for the Hornets.

And they very nearly made it count. A ball from Will Hughes through to Ismaila Sarr forced a well palmed save from Alisson – who had been Liverpool’s best player in the opening period.

The second half already had more promise – Virgil van Dijk threaded through Andy Robertson, whose stunned shot stung the palms of Ben Foster.

Sadio Mane was the highest profile Senegalese player on the pitch. But his compatriot, his junior, Ismaila Sarr. What a time.

After a throw-in, a duck from Dejan Lovren allowed the ball to be played back across the six yard box. Sarr arrived on the scene to tap past Alisson. The gauntlet had been thrown to Liverpool’s invincibility.

It had been thrown.

It had been launched.

Sarr. Through from Deeney, one-on-one. Stadium on tenterhooks – but as cool as you like, he lifted it over the Brazilian to make it two.

Adam Lallana had replaced Georginio Wijnaldum, and came closest for the Reds up to the point by hitting the post – but Liverpool hadn’t looked like getting one.

And they surely couldn’t lose this now – a backpass from Alexander-Arnold, who had had an absolute shocker, allowed Sarr to pick out Troy Deeney who finished expertly past Alisson.

He then came closes to his hattrick – but fired wide before being replaced by Ignacio Pussetto.

Liverpool had not pressed well, not been intense enough on second balls, not been able to break down a resilient and magnificent Watford side. They simply outplayed them in every single department.

Liverpool stay ‘only’ 22 points clear of Manchester City, with Watford climbing to 18th and on 27 points, level with Bournemouth.

Team Lineups

Watford: Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Hughes, Capoue, Doucoure (Chalobah 88), Sarr (Pussetto 84); Deulofeu (Pereyra 36), Deeney

Unused Substitutes: Gomes, Dawson,  Welbeck,, Gray, Pereyra

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Origi 65), Wijnaldum (Lallana 60); Salah, Mane, Firmino (Minamino 81)

Unused substitutes: Adrian, Hoever, Matip, Jones



About Author

Sports Journalism student, streamer at LFC Transfer Room, Anfield Agenda. Liverpool fan with a particular interest in Welsh, Youth, and African football.

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