LIVERPOOL 6-1 Watford

Liverpool go top of the Premier League after an emphatic win against Watford.

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Klopp made choices consistent with other Premier League games we’d had recently, though Moreno was officially “dropped” again and replaced with Milner once more. Milner hadn’t played the last fixture due to a short sickness. Moreno was just the next best choice while our key player and set piece taker wasn’t well enough for football. Milner got better and went straight into the starting 11, which he has deserved to play in from early in the season. He’s earned that with decent contributions to our results both indirectly and directly. Sturridge would not make the starting 11 despite being a key player and goalscorer in our League Cup games.

The game started off with Liverpool trying their luck and seeing how much pressure they could “pour on” before Watford started fighting back at all. It was a lot of pressure Liverpool put on, too. They built up passes and pushed the ball around, getting further and further up the pitch towards Watford’s goalkeeper and took shots when they could. Watford were left rather helpless with a constant flow of attack being forced upon them at Anfield.
They would not trouble Karius very much at all when Liverpool were on the defence.

It took 27 minutes of pressure and consistent attack for Liverpool to finally put the ball in the net. I say “finally” because it could have happened earlier, with some previous shots and chances coming incredibly close. It would be a header by Sadio Mané that saw Liverpool take a lead. He met Coutinho’s cross in the air and headed his shot right into the corner of the net. Liverpool 1-0 Watford

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3 minutes later, Liverpool had another goal. Coutinho was involved again but this time, he was not assisting – he was scoring.

Firmino had been one of the attackers constantly pushing forwards and would put a pass to his fellow Brazilian teammate for the second goal of the game. Coutinho would take Firmino’s pass, move past Watford defenders with his usual pace (he makes it look so easy!) and then strike the ball from around 20 yards with his right foot and it went sailing past the goalkeeper and into the net. Liverpool 2-0 Watford

At the time of the goal, Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had looked like he really stretched further than he should have or further than his body was capable of stretching to save Coutinho’s shot. It was too much for him, he was hurt and perhaps crashing down from the air to the pitch didn’t help either. By the time Liverpool were done celebrating the goal, Gomes was still lying down on the ground in the penalty area and not looking like he could continue any further in the game. Costel Pantilimon would be substituted on as the referee started up the game again. To be honest, Pantilimon was not equal or better in skill than Gomes, there would still be a further goal conceded in the first half. Two goalkeepers chosen to play and neither had kept a clean sheet for Watford.

Pantilimon has to replace Gomes after Watford's goalkeeper got injured attempting to save Coutinho's shot which ended up being a goal.

Pantilimon has to replace Gomes after Watford’s first choice goalkeeper got injured attempting to save Coutinho’s shot which ended up being a goal.

This third goal was around ten minutes later. Coming to the end of the first half, really. 43 minutes in, Adam Lallana would cross over a wonderfully placed ball that Emre Can rushed towards (feet still on the ground) and headed right into the bottom right corner of the net. It was smooth, from start to finish. The cross by Lallana had been accurately put into a position where Can could meet it without even jumping into the air and the accuracy of the header itself was enough to make sure it was a memorable goal at Anfield for Can and his supporters. The Can fans will remember this one for a long time. Liverpool 3-0 Watford

So it was just about half time now. Liverpool had a three goal lead at the break.

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After the break, not much seemed to have changed. The tempo of the game in the second half was just as fast, with Liverpool consistently attacking so much that we didn’t need to spend much time on defence.

I sat in the upper Anfield Road stand, just above the Watford fans and they were all in good spirits throughout the entire game considering that their team had been losing since around the first half hour of the game. Here’s a few pictures of Anfield I took personally for you, too.

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So, this was game in which Liverpool scored 6 goals was continuing and three more were on the way.

Around the 56th minute, A yellow card shown to Watford’s José Holebas gave Liverpool a free kick. We would not score directly from the free kick but Adam Lallana (yet again) crossed over to assist a goal which Roberto Firmino would claim as he stretched a foot out inside the 6 yard box and hit home to score Liverpool’s 4th of the game from close range. Liverpool 4-0 Watford

Firmino would score Liverpool's 4th goal

Firmino would score Liverpool’s 4th goal against Watford

Firmino wasn’t done just yet, either. About 3 minutes later the Brazilian pressed the attack, pushed a throughball to Sadio Mané and Mané scored a nicely placed right footed shot down in the middle of the goal. What’s the score now? Oh, Liverpool 5-0 Watford.

The game had seen two goals from Mané but around the 63rd minute, Klopp had chosen to make a substution. He’d take Mané off the pitch to replace him with Wijnaldum. I love Wijnaldum and want to see him play regularly but shouldn’t Mané have been given the chance to try and complete a hat trick? I know I heard these feelings expressed by fans inside of Anfield. The substitution would not be warmly received – all we could do is clap Mané off the field as reward for his hard work and impressive contribution including goalscoring (twice). Mané felt the love and appreciation from the whole of Anfield as he left the pitch.

By the 71st minute, Adam Lallana would also be replaced by Daniel Sturridge. Again, I love this player who was coming on to the pitch but Lallana had assisted two goals in the game was playing at really high levels of performance. Don’t you want to keep players like that around, to provide more goals? I suppose the decision is very hard for the manager, which often isn’t acknowledged (we comment so freely on our managers decisions but not really much about how hard it was for him to make them). Who else could have been taken off? Firmino, who had scored a goal? Coutinho, who had scored a goal? Our attackers had done so well, that no matter who was going to be replaced so that Sturridge could be brought on, it was going to be someone who had contributed so well that we’d want to see more of them and feel kind of bad about them leaving the pitch. Sturridge really deserves to play as much as he gets to at the moment though. I’ve  suggested that he deserves more than being a substitute – a full 90 minutes for him would make me happy too. He hasn’t gotten that much play time but he’s still playing as I’d like to see him do.

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Just a couple of minutes after the Lallana-Sturridge substitution, Watford pressed forwards down towards the Anfield Road end of the stadium (which Liverpool were now defending). A scrappy bit of attacking (by Watford), defending (by Liverpool) and counter attacking by Watford saw our opponents break through the back line of defence and manage to direct a shot at goal, which curled past Karius at close range. Liverpool 5-1 Watford
Had we gotten a little complacent with a five goal lead or could Karius genuinely not do anything about this shot getting past him and into the goal? It didn’t look so hard to save from the stands at Anfield.
This for me, made me start to question our manager’s choice of goalkeeper. He’s been involved in some great results, win after win after win but you know what? He hasn’t managed to consistently put together any runs of clean sheets. Simon Mignolet may have been a part of some results that weren’t victories but at least he knows how to consistently keep goals from being conceded.

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In the 2015-2016 season, Simon Mignolet was officially becoming the best Premier League goalkeeper, based on how many clean sheets were kept in that season. Although Karius hasn’t been given a full season yet to show how well he can repeat or improve on this record, he’s not looking in a good position to even equal what Mignolet has done for Liverpool.  I’m worried that Klopp is preferring to use his “new signing” (Karius) more often than he should, based on reasons that may not include performances and clean sheets kept. He probably just doesn’t want to have “wasted” the £4.7M transfer fee which was paid for Karius but does that truly justify using him, when your other goalkeeper’s record is of a considerably high standard that would see no goals condeded often? Mignolet was previously a consistent first choice goalkeeper and deserved his place in the starting 11 despite the fact that we had some decent competition for him including a Welsh international (Danny Ward) and a Hungarian international (Adam Bogdan) available. Now he’s being pushed to the substitute bench and I’m still of the opinion that he’d deserve a starting 11 place as Liverpool goalkeeper. I think, until the time when we start suffering draws and defeats because of goals conceded by Karius I can save my outrage at Mignolet not being used as much as I’d like. If we’re winning (while conceding) I should be happy that at least we saw victory. The standard for a Liverpool goalkeeper is high, though. I simply want to know that we definitely are using the best players available in our squad.

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Perhaps Klopp does consider Karius to be even better than Mignolet. The former Mainz goalkeeper would have had Klopp’s eye on him for a long time and he knows him well, from the German Bundesliga where Klopp had managed before arriving in Liverpool. I trust in Klopp’s eye for talent. I’m happy when we win. Karius is a part of consistent wins for Liverpool. Even if we concede, the results may matter more than clean sheets. This is what I’ve found to justify making Karius our first choice goalkeeper. I’ll always love to see Mignolet play, though. I haven’t enjoyed seeing a goalkeeper like him since Jerzy Dudek and his Champions League Final winning efforts. Pepe Reina was a fan favourite too. It was very difficult for Mignolet to come in after these players – he had a lot to live up to, as does Karius. The legends of Liverpool are what new players should aspire to become.

BACK TO THE GAME… 

Liverpool had conceded, but we weren’t done scoring either. Around the 88th minute, Liverpool were pushing forward and Wijnaldum was challenging Watford’s players so hard for the ball that he’d get himself booked. It showed passion, though. It showed determination and desire to get the ball from our opponents, then move up and attack. It’d pay off eventually, even after his booking. From a 91st minute attack, Wijnaldum would move with the ball around the penalty spot area and find enough space to take a left footed shot, which powered from this close range past Watford’s goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner of the net.

Wijnaldum celebrates his first goal for Liverpool

Wijnaldum celebrates his first goal for Liverpool

With that late goal, the score was Liverpool 6-1 Watford and it wasn’t long before the referee blew his whistle for full time.

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As mentioned previously, Liverpool’s win threw them up to the top of the Premier League since Arsenal could only draw 1-1 with Tottenham in their 11th leauge game of the season and they wouldn’t be able to keep Liverpool from earning their place above them as we won.

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It’s taken 11 fixtures for Liverpool to be outright first place. We had previously been in “joint first” place. We’d had 23 points just like Arsenal and Manchester City but had a lower goal difference which technically put us lower in the table on goal difference alone. We struggled to take first place as we won and conceded against West Brom, when Arsenal were winning too.
We’ve just gained a +5 goal difference from this win and that should help as we continue to keep our position by any means necessary. Currently, only Chelsea have a better goal difference than Liverpool and we’ve already beaten them once this season. It’s unlikely to be goal difference that keeps Liverpool and Chelsea apart in the league table. One team will surely win the next fixture we have against each other and I’m confident we can make ourselves the winners for the second time this season with some hard work.

Man Of the Match?

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Sadio Mané worked hard up until the point when he was substituted off the pitch in the second half and I had really wanted him to get a hat trick. I don’t often question Klopp’s tactics because they all generally work very well but bringing Mané off was… a mistake. He’d shown what he could do and scored twice in the game. Just as Sturridge had recently scored twice and been pushed to the substitution bench for the very next fixture, Mané had to endure the manager’s tactical changes to the team. I feel bad for certain players who go through this at times. I’ve always believed in a performance based reward system that should see players rewarded by being given places in the starting 11 or at least not brought off when they’re obviously ready to keep on scoring more goals if you just let them keep playing. Of course, I’m not the manager and don’t get to make these decisions. Mané deserved every bit of love we showed to him at Anfield as he headed for the substitute bench though.

What’s next?

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Liverpool have multiple former Southampton players who will be headed back to their previous club’s stadium for more Premier League action.

Until then, walk on with hope in your heart. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.

[written by] Stuart Drewery.

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I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

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