The starting eleven shuts up the doubters
There were several surprises when the lineup was announced. Having Milner and Origi in the lineup with Keita and Shaqiri not on the field was a surprise to most, especially for those who continue to think that you win by having as many attack-minded players as possible. Right from the start, the team on the field gave the answer. Milner’s pressing run to Foster in the initial minutes of the game showed what Klopp was after in this game; high energy play throughout the field that would suffocate Watford and caused immense pressure wave after wave.
Liverpool was at their best with chasing the ball with 2-3 players everywhere on the field and did not give a chance for Watford to get settled. In return, Watford played scared and panicked, further adding to their problems. If Liverpool can play with at this level at home against the rest of their opponents, 3 points from every game is very realistic. This was a Watford team with quality midfield players like Capoue, Doucoure, and Pereyra. In the end, they were all left frustrated with lack of time on the ball and being able to string passes together.
Origi has moved Sturridge further down the pecking order
I was happy to see Origi get the nod over Sturridge when I saw the lineup. Origi might not be the better player yet(even though at this stage in their careers, it would be a good debate) but he plays hungry and with energy. He tracked the runner down his flank several times, defending, winning back possession while using his size and speed to cause problems for Watford. I could not envision Sturridge doing the same.
Even without the goal, his performance was to be applauded due to the effort he gave today. The goal was an icing on the cake to a good performance. Liverpool will need more of these performances from Divock and if he can make Klopp look good with his performances, he will secure a roster spot for next year as well.
Watford will have nightmares for days
Rarely do you see a defense this scared in the premier league. The entire Watford backline kept back paddling every time Salah and Mane were coming at them with the ball. They looked scared and had no answers. They were afraid to be too aggressive and give away fouls or penalties which caused them to play very timid.
To their credit… The Reds took advantage and continued to bully them especially through Salah. Salah really wanted that goal today and even though the stats will not show his contribution to the scoreline via assists or goals, the terror he stirred in Watford defense kept opening up a ton of space for the midfielders to step into and allowed Trent to have more time on the ball
The offense goes as far as the fullbacks will take them
Liverpool does not have a true number 9 to bring the ball down or be a threat in the box for crosses. It is just not the style we play with at this time so the balls into the box have to be more accurate and have enough pace on them to allow our players to get in between the defenders to take advantage. It is easy to criticize the attacking players when the team cannot score but one cannot ignore the importance of the quality of balls delivered to these players as the key to success.
Trent shows why he was missed during our spell of lost points. His presence and crosses are crucial to our attack. His chemistry with Salah also elevates Mo’s game and makes that wing very difficult to defend. Opposing defenses shifting more to that wing also helps Robertson on the opposite side like it did today where quick switches of the ball between the wings enabled Robertson to have a ton of space to make runs into.
I strongly believe that the loss of Trent cost us points against Leicester and West Ham. He is a great home grown talent this team has and it feels like we have both him and Robertson for a long time. The Reds will have to make sure that we get players to step in when these two are not available and need a rest. Moreno at LB and Milner at RB are serviceable at best but are far from ideal.
Today was just what this team needed
The only negative of a great day was City escaping with a penalty goal to stay behind. The Reds have 10 more games to protect this lead and today was a huge step in getting back the swagger and mojo this team needed to go on this last sprint.
We have to take it one game at a time but the confidence this team will get from this win will help our performance this weekend against Everton and the games to follow. Perhaps more than the team, it will help blow away the grey clouds above the fans that were in a panic mode when we only came back with one point at Old Trafford. This team needs a good run to extend the point lead they have on City over the next few weeks and this was definitely a great start to that. YNWA!