I have to start at the last, because it was a moment of sheer joy – for the fans, for football, and for Mo Salah himself, who has apparently decided that pedestrian goals no longer interest him. It’s either an audacious effort on his weaker foot on a full sprint from nearly the corner flag a few days ago; or it is an even more audacious flick with his backheel behind his standing leg to nutmeg Watford’s Kabasele, whose shin hairs played Salah on, for a now traditional Kloppage time goal. This one, also with his so-called weaker foot.
I mean, at this point, does he have a weaker foot? because that made it three in a row off his “bad” one.
The other goal was also a thing of beauty, especially considering how wicked the wind was at Anfield today. Pretty much everyone was expecting Salah to go one more flick to try and set himself up with his left. This opened it up for him to try a lob into the far corner with his right, which he executed emphatically. I think at this point it’s fair to assume that this has been a training focus for Mo, seeing as opposition defenses have apparently figured out how to stop him by focusing on blocking his left-shooting options. In the end, this simply means Mo Salah is better than he was before, and with all of this clicking in, we may yet see an even more fearsome version of him than we have ever known in the coming months.
And let’s not forget one Bobby Firmino, who got on the pitch at Anfield today in the sort of mood that makes him so tricky to handle. Liverpool’s first goal was just as critically dependent on his own outrageous pass to Mane to start the counter. But it was the level of chaos he created for Watford over and again in the first half, setting the Reds on one attacking transition after another, that was in itself a joy to behold. If it were not for that wind, it could have ended up in a massacre.
Of course, if it weren’t for that very same wind, Watford could have picked up a goal or three themselves. And in one rather frightful moment when it was still only one up, it seemed like Van Dijk was so determined to score, he almost did to Allison what the Hornets failed to do by themselves. In any case, Watford acquitted themselves nicely today, facing an insurmountable task. This should give them confidence moving forward, and we may well end up with another Pearson miracle. If anything, their lads proved today that they can sting if they only set their minds to it.
In the end, it was another efficient display from Liverpool who, like last year, is seemingly unfazed by the tides of December (is that a phrase? I don’t think it’s a phrase). Another game, another 2 goals, one again in the dying moments of the game, and another 3 points. The one difference is, of course, that it was also another clean sheet, marking for an increasing thread-count of 3 in a row. A sheet made softer with the smooth finish of Egyptian cotton, and Mo is my man of the match.
One cloud that remains from this game: we can only hope that Gini’s injury isn’t a bad one. Because once he left, Liverpool became much more wobbly. This sort of defensive performance will not be enough against the Foxes.