WATFORD 3-0 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool suffer their 5th defeat of the Premier League season as Watford manage to get victory against us for the first time since August of 1999.
Liverpool have been the victor or at least drawing our fixtures between these two clubs for the last 16 years. There were a few things to explain why we wouldn’t continue our successful run of positive results against Watford, so lets take a look at how the streak was broken.
Firstly, you may notice as soon as you start reading the Liverpool lineup for this fixture, that Simon Mignolet’s name does not appear. He currently has been added to the rather large injury list, after he had sustained a tight hamstring recently. Adam Bogdan would be given a chance to show what he could do in a Premier League fixture, having only been a part of a league cup game already this season. Liverpool would be forced to use a goalkeeper whose record of clean sheets is not as impressive as Mignolet’s record.
We also had to use (usually “second choice”) Mamadou Sakho in central defence as Dejan Lovren sustained a serious injury in our fixture with West Brom. The “strikers” we had in our starting lineup for this game were players which we usually have in our midfield while Divock Origi and Christian Benteke (natural strikers) sat on the substitute bench at the start of the game. The manager would use them eventually, but it was really too late by then, the damage had been done already from early on in the game.
It would only be about two minutes before Watford would take a lead.
Nathaniel Clyne had cleared the ball out for a corner. No big deal usually, Liverpool can defend against set pieces quite easily most of the time. However, this corner was taken and our goalkeeper had difficulty holding the ball as he went to catch it in the air. I don’t know if he just had been very nervous about appearing in his first Premier League fixture for Liverpool but he did not catch the ball first time. It was dropped further down to his lower body and it seemed like he had caught it, but very soon after the ball was in his hands Nathan Aké would actually kick the ball out of his hands and into the net.
Normally, kicking a ball out of a goalkeeper’s hands once it’s been caught would officially constitute a foul and it’d be a free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. However it all happened so fast that the referee may not have even noticed the ball was properly caught (which would mean no foul had been committed if the referee thinks the ball was just in mid-air) before the ball was stuck by Aké and the goal counted for our opponents, making the score Watford 1-0 Liverpool.
This first goal conceded could be counted as bad luck and maybe a case of nerves from our inexperienced goalkeeper, but the next goal was just good attacking and a very accurately placed shot from Watford’s player.
In the 14th minute, Watford made an attacking move towards Liverpool’s penalty area. Martin Skrtel would run back with the player who had the ball but upon attempting to tackle and win the ball, Odion Ighalo’s right footed shot from the right side of the box went under Martin Skrtel’s leg and into the bottom left corner of our net… there wasn’t anything our defender or goalkeeper could do to stop it from becoming Watford 2-0 Liverpool.
So, now Liverpool were losing by a two goal lead and only quarter of an hour of the first half had passed. It just didn’t seem like it was going to be our day, even from quite early on. Liverpool continued to struggle as we attacked, often being dispossessed as we tried our luck going towards their penalty area. There were a surprising amount of high balls played into the air and to be honest, we didn’t even have our best header of the ball (Christian Benteke) on the pitch for much of the game and we often lost out the aerial battles to Watford, who would claim the ball and then counter attack.
By the end of the first half, the only major event that happened for Liverpool was that Martin Skrtel would get injured (YES, another injury I am sorry to report) and Divock Origi would replace him around the 40th minute. The only positive we can take from this is that Skrtel is a really tough player who will without a doubt attempt to return to first team football as soon as he possibly can. Of that we can be sure.
The first half would end with Watford leading 2-0 as the teams went in for the break.
Liverpool have made comebacks before, though we never really looked like making one in this game. Already two goals conceded, we’d have had to come out in the 2nd half and score at least 1 goal fairly quickly to be seen as having any hope of a comeback. Then maybe a second goal could be scored by the end of the 2nd half and that would have been “how Liverpool salvaged a point” (from a 2-2 draw), but this kind of thing just did not happen.
I don’t know exactly why our attacking players who are known goalscorers for our club did not manage to put the ball in the net even once.
It was certainly not a managerial error, the players Klopp had chosen could have provided goals just as they had done in games before. Divock Origi has even scored a hat trick this season (and I’d hoped he’d do it again in this game), but couldn’t even get 1 goal in this fixture. We were just shut down by Watford, really. Not so much mistakes made by Liverpool but more great defensive play by Watford, which cost us all the points we could have possibly gained.
There would only be one more goal in the rest of the game and it would be another for Watford as Odion Ighalo claimed his second goal. Around the 85th minute, Valon Behrami (who had only been brought on to replace Almen Abdi 5 minutes earlier) crossed over the ball for Ighalo to head home the final goal (or “nail in Liverpool’s coffin”), making it Watford 3-0 Liverpool. With only 5 more minutes left to play (and a bit of injury time), we were never going to make any kind of comeback from three goals down. It was all over and Liverpool have to move forward in their fixture list on the back of a defeat.
Liverpool’s next game to play will now be when we face the current Premier League leaders Leicester City, at Anfield on “boxing day” (December 26th).
Until then, walk on with hope in your heart. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
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 (about 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.