Liverpool Back On Track
Liverpool and Mo Salah humiliated Watford on Saturday beating them 5-0. Mo Salah was easily the Man of the Match scoring a career high 4 goals and adding an assist on the evening. It was a blustery cold night at Anfield but the performance on the pitch probably kept the fans warmer than a nice glass of Bourbon could. This was the Salah show right from the beginning of the match. Salah opened the scoring in the 4th minute with some slick moves and a nice interchange with Sadio Mane. At this point no one knew what was in store for this night.
Especially around the midway point of the first half as the Reds struggled with the Watford press. Watford had been getting outnumbered in the midfield. The Reds midfield 3 of Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, and Emre Can were giving the Watford midfield of Abodoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue which is really the strength of their team fits getting through the midfield. At this point Liverpool was dominating the game just moving the ball around and forcing Watford to sit deep. Watford manager Javi Garcia was forced to change something up or this game was going to get ugly in a hurry. He had his team press higher up the pitch and this press gave Liverpool some fits, especially Jordan Henderson who was very sloppy with his passing and they started to turn the ball over which gave Watford something to feel optimistic about. They were even growing into the game more and more as the half went on, but Liverpool dealt with it and were able to get on the counter. The second eventually came before the end of the half, even though we didn’t know it at the time this was the death blow for Watford. The play started with a nice little interchange by fullback Andrew Robertson who bombed up the left wing and Sadio Mane. Robertson to Mane to Robertson who then played a perfect cross across the box to Salah for a tap in and his second.
For the half Liverpool outshot Watford 4-1 with a 63-37% possession advantage. Like I said the first 20 minutes was good, it was all Liverpool, but as the half went on Liverpool became sloppy, but the second goal was really a dagger it was like Watford was done at that point.
Robert FIrmino got on the board early in the second as Salah chased down a loose ball on the end line and sent a magnificent cross to Firmino who finished with a no look back-heel in the 49th minute to send Watford to the showers basically. Firmino only likes scoring no look goals I think. At this point Watford really had no fight. They had one half chance the rest of the way Roberto Pereya hit the woodwork from a bad angle on a free kick right outside the box. From that point forward Watford laid down like the good boy they were and let Liverpool rub their belly.
Salah added a 3rd and 4th. His third may have been his best individual goal of the season. He somehow juked around 3 to 4 defenders before firing the perfect strike home to give Liverpool a 4th in the 77th minute and then in the 85th minute he added salt to the wound by firing home a rebound as Danny Ings was robbed from opening his account this season.
What else can be said about this man that hasn’t already been said. He has been if not the best one of the best transfer pickups Liverpool has ever had and I don’t even want to print the price out of lack of respect for his former club Roma. Spoiler alert we stole him. He now has 36 goals in all comps and 28 goals in the league. He takes a 4 goal lead on Spurs forward Harry Kane for the golden boot award and with Kane’s ankle injury having him out at least for the rest of the month and some real uncertainty as to when he will return it seems like a lock that Salah will win this prestigious award as a winger in his first season in a Liverpool shirt. Which is really incredible. This is the type of performance that they needed from him today in which was really a must win for the Reds. The manner he scored his goals today showed his sheer skill. He is a guy who is always in the right place at the right time, has the ability to time his run perfectly and has the skill to beat not one but multiple guys one on one to score.
Mo Salah isn’t the only Red in his first season with the club that has the fan-base falling for him. Andrew Robertson has totally sold me and Reds fans everywhere with his play at left back and especially that motor of his that doesn’t stop. Ever since he took over from Alberto Moreno there was no looking back. I was saying all season even after only seeing Robertson a handful of times in a Red shirt that despite Moreno’s good play that Robertson needed to take over, sure Moreno had been playing well give him credit for it, but at the same time Robertson has a much higher ceiling and we have been seeing it game in and game out. Like I said this guy could seriously run all day without getting tired. I get tired watching him he never stops. Today he was his normal self getting up and down the wing and luckily for the Reds any time Watford seemed to be threatening the ball ended up on his side of the pitch and he dealt with it quickly and got the Reds out of trouble. The one area maybe where we would have liked to have seen more from him is with his crossing and as we know he got the right with the perfect ball to Mo Salah for his second. Robertson has been a beautiful pickup and looks like he will be manning that left side for years to come.
As a team this was a nice bounce-back, knowing they couldn’t come out here and drop points against mid-table Watford who plays a style that usually when the Reds face a team playing this style they destroy them. It was a professional performance that was needed on this day. Good teams bounce back after tough losses and this is what this team did today. Pretty much everyone had a good day. The only real complaint I have is that Jordan Henderson was a little sloppy with the ball dealing with the Watford press late in the first half and Joe Gomez still has this weird thing with mis judging balls played in his neighborhood. Those two were the only two Reds that I may have a complaint about the rest of the lads I am more than pleased with including manager Jurgen Klopp who got everything right today.
The front three is just lethal and when they get out on the counter with space there is really no stopping them. They move into 3rd after the win today. They are 2 points behind Manchester United for second a, 2 points ahead of Tottenham for third, and 7 points ahead of Chelsea for 4th. The 5-0 win can only help with goal differential which can only help with a race this tight. The only thing is that United, Spurs, and Chelsea have a game in hand on the Reds, but with Tottenham and Chelsea playing each other soon the Reds are positioned in a nice place with 7 games to go. They’ll have to take care of business, but still is a real good position to be in at this point.
One last note on Watford. I said before the game I thought they were fine to survive and I still think they are to be honest this break should do nothing but help them. Getting away for 2 weeks is probably a good thing after getting humiliated like this. This is the type of loss that can put a team in a hole and a free fall could happen because of it. They still have 8 points to play with so they should be okay, but they need to forget about this in a hurry and figure out a way to not be so bad away from home. They have 1 point in their last nine games away from home and I think they are going to have to figure that out or survival is no longer a certainty for them.
I personally hate international breaks but it is nice to go on the break with a 5-0 win. Here’s to staying healthy for our players who are involved in friendlies over the next two weeks. And hopefully the two weeks will help Emre Can not miss too much time. He left the game today in the 27th minute with an apparent back injury which is the only real negative to come from Anfield today. Next up is going to be a bit tougher. We face Crystal Palace for the early keep off on March 31 coming back from the break. The game is at Sellhurst Park which is a place that the Reds are always in a fight regardless of the standings. Palace got themselves to safety by snapping their losing streak by getting a huge win at Huddersfield, but they know they still have a lot of work to do and will be motivated to face the Reds so the Reds better no come back from break sluggish they need to be ready to go.