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Watford 3 – 3 Liverpool: Match Report

Liverpool travelled to Watford on the opening weekend of the 2017/18 season, and found that the home team were prepared for them. It was never going to be their day, was it? Not after what happened on Friday.

Jurgen Klopp, unable to count on several of his favourite options, chose the following setup:

Marco Silva, taking charge of his first competitive game at Watford, decided to arrange his team thus:

That Liverpool were going to put in a lacklustre performance became rather obvious very quickly. They started on the front foot, dominating possession and pushing their hosts deeper, but just five minutes in Sadio Mane lost the ball to Daryl Janmaat in a very dangerous position. Although nothing came of it, that moment seemed to have given some strong drive to the Hornets, and just two minutes later they threatened again. Pereyra broke through and charged towards the box, and his shot was blocked and went out for a corner.

Holebas swung it in to the edge of six yards, Matip got caught between two Watford players while Firmino failed to track the run of Okaka. Mignolet beaten.

1:0.

With a quarter of an hour gone, Janmaat went down and stayed down for a while, apparently needing treatment, and even though it initially looked as if Watford right back had already started wasting time, three minutes later he was substituted by Kiko Femenia.

This was a period of the half when Liverpool started forcing themselves to lift their play, and again took control of the proceedings. Emre Can at this point started pressing higher up the pitch obviously trying to emulate the influence of the missing Adam Lallana, and he was rather good at it. Both Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren on the other hand dealt with a lot defensively, but their passes were often wayward. Watford’s Britos seemed to be trying to return that favour by badly misplacing several passes of his own.

Liverpool’s attack however looked unusually lame, and the lack of a game-controlling attacking midfielder was just becoming painfully clear when it suddenly sprang alive in the 29th minute.

Mane laid the ball off for Moreno who was coming in from the left, passed it to Can on the edge of the box and the German’s clever little flick found the continued run of Mane. The Senegalese took a marvellous first touch to set himself up and effortlessly put it past Heurelho Gomes into the net.

1:1.

For the next minute or two it looked like the whole Liverpool team would liven up and grab the game by the throat, but then a lamely conceded throw-in from Moreno and Can enabled Watford to catch their defence off guard, and Cleverley sent the ball in from the right across the box, Trent Alexander-Arnold failed to deal with it and it fell for Doucoure for an easy tap-in. The clock was showing 32 minutes.

2:1.

There are obviously still a few problems even the presence of a fully fit and loyal Philippe Coutinho wouldn’t have solved.

The Reds again responded quickly though, but Gomes was also quick to get off his line and thwart Mane’s through-ball for Mohamed Salah.

In his eagerness to swing the game back Liverpool’s way, Mane earned a booking for a late challenge.

And then, 38 minutes in, a beautiful chance was created when Firmino got the ball off Alexander-Arnold and threaded it through for Salah, but the Egyptian’s toe-poke went over the bar. In the dying minutes of the period, a corner from Firmino found Mane but his skilful header went just wide.

That was it for the first half, with the general impression that Watford had deserved their lead, fulfilling their manager’s instructions to the letter, defending in numbers and charging forward also in numbers when required. They certainly looked happier going into the dressing-room. Liverpool on the other hand overall seemed rather dejected.

But in the second half, Watford got over-confident apparently, or Liverpool simply turned their play up just a notch. Whatever it is, the Reds were suddenly the better team.

Three minutes in, another injury forced Silva to use up his second substitution, and Pereyra limped off the pitch to be replaced by the newcomer Richarlison.

In the 52nd minute, Moreno, with a bit of luck on his side, set up Mane for a cross from the left, and even though Firmino and Salah charged in to capitalize, the ball disappointingly went over them and out for a goal-kick.

But just two minutes later, Firmino and Salah took matter into their own hands and set the score level. The Brazilian employed the Egyptian beautifully, Gomes again came out, but this time he was too late and with his arms swept the feet under Salah. The referee took a second and then blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. Firmino was the executioner.

2:2.

As mentioned before, Lovren’s passing seemed rather poor in the first half, but two minutes after Firmino’s penalty the Croatian centre-back produced a fabulous long ball over Watford’s defensive line. Firmino was the player looking for it, and it got him through on goal. Gomes came out, Firmino sent a lob over him, and just as it was going to end up slightly wide of the mark, Salah made use of his speed and tapped it in.

2:3

For a relatively short period that followed, we were again seeing the same devastating Liverpool that put six past Watford last season at Anfield.

In quick succession, Trent set up Salah for another chance, Moreno produced a blast to the near top corner that Gomes barely managed to tip over and Matip’s header hit the bar from the resulting corner.

Just after an hour’s play, Silva made his final substitution and decided on the pace of Andre Gray over the strength of Okaka.

73 minutes in, a communication breakdown between Lovren and Mignolet reminded everybody that the game was not decided yet, even though Liverpool goalkeeper eventually dealt with it.

Still, a little later Mane engaged Salah again but Salah’s shot went wide again.

10 minutes from time, Klopp made his first substitution by withdrawing Firmino and introducing Divock Origi.

Salah then found himself in a goalscoring opportunity again, courtesy of a pass from Emre Can, but Gomes was the winner of that race. Right after that, Gini Wijnaldum had the best chance to put the game to bed, but trying to hit Mane’s cross from the left first time, he had a miskick and it went considerably wide. He was unmarked, unblocked, centre of the goal, about 13-14 yards out.

Then Salah went off and James Milner came on, followed by Mignolet getting booked for time-wasting. And as much as a goalkeeper getting booked for the cause three minutes from time rarely has consequences, the fact that Liverpool resorted to that piece of tactics against Watford seems alarming in itself.

Just as the 90th minute ran out and the fourth official signalled there would be five additional minutes, Klopp sent Joe Gomez in instead of Trent, probably with the idea of improving the team’s aerial ability towards the end.

But just as such a change failed to make desired impact last season at home against Bournemouth, so it failed again.

Three minutes of added time were gone, when a corner was swung in from the right by Holebas again. It was relatively low, directed to the near post. Wijnaldum tried to clear with a header from five yards out, but he hit Richarlison at very close range. Watford’s new winger took a shot straight away, Mignolet stretched his arm out and parried it upwards, it fell on the goal-line itself from where it was impossible for Britos’ header to miss.

3:3.

This game was very far from what we had been hoping to see in the Premier League season opener, but with the events of the previous day taken into consideration, blaming anybody seems harsh. Let’s not dwell too much on this game but hold our heads up high, and walk on. Walk on, to Hoffenheim, and to the Champions League.

 

mm
Veselin Trajkovic
A sports enthusiast, Liverpool FC fan, writing for several blogs, likes to focus on football for what it is, rather than stats or bias. Writing for FOAR since its inception.
  • KeithSA

    OK guys we drew the first game of the season a game we should have won expect for a bad decision. Yes a very tepid and average first half performance were we got bullied, but he second half we played decent enough to win. It certainly not razor blade time and its certainly not a disaster. Disappointing we chucked away 2 points but really its early days. Chelsea had a disastrous start last year and still went on to win to lets have a reality check.

    For me Gini had one of his worst performances in a red shirt and Migs needs to command his box more and without overreacting Karius for me is still the better option in goal, time will tell.

    The midfield did not click today and that is a concern but a fixable one so hysteria is certainly not the way to go.

    If Klopp feels he will get more out of a Meyer and Insigne which are today’s rumors I am happy for Phil to fuck off into the sunset as long as we get 120 plus mill for him I am over him already. I dont want a player who does not want to be here. If he stays with the promise that he can go next year like Saurez so be it, he can fuck off next year as long as he produces like Saurez did.

    One man does not make a team and certainly young Phil does have some great moments of sheer brilliance but does not grab the game by the scruff of the neck like a Gerrard, Suarez or a Messi and has gone missing in plenty of games as well. I certainly would be pissed off if we bought him for 100 mill plus there are better players out there for that price.

    Again a gae we started shit but still would have won except for a ref blunder. and we had some really good moments to build on, disappointing but far from a disaster some people are screaming about. Bright note Moreno and Tent looked the business as did Salah and they will grow in confidence from here. .

    • Drewster

      Good post, it’s still very annoying that decisions like that final one are not reviewed so the correct decision is made. Doesn’t matter that we were poor and our defending was woeful, the goal shouldn’t stand and we were robbed of two points. People saying we didn’t deserve to win, also make no sense as we have won many games that we didn’t deserve to win and we have lost games we didn’t deserve to lose, that’s how football works. However it’s still stuck in the dark ages with regards to the use of technology. Every other sport on the planet uses it, but football can’t. It makes no sense

      Edit: what if we were to come second in the league by one point, would we still be saying we didn’t deserve to win?

    • Kylian Mmmbopp

      We will play like this shitty every week and midweek. Dont see how a lineup with Mignolet and Lovren at the back can alter the same bolloxs every season

      • KeithSA

        The same lineup that beat all the other top contenders last year?

        • Kylian Mmmbopp

          Sure. What did we get again? A title or a tittiy

          • KeithSA

            CL qualification

  • special siren

    Coutinho image removed from club shop 😔

    • gegenpressing

      ????

      • special siren

        The club shop in Williamson square, there was a massive pic of phil in the window and someone filmed a staff member removing it yesterday. The video is doing the rounds on twitter. Some are saying it’s because of the shirt sleeve sponsor though, and they’re just updating.

        • gegenpressing

          This is the problem with social media…Everything must mean something…Guess we’ll find out soon enough…

          • special siren

            I know, that’s true. But for all anyone knows, they could have removed all the images but because it’s phil on the video it means he is going.

          • gegenpressing

            When you look hard enough for a sign, you’ll find something…Think FSG know the impact that selling Phil will have on the fanbase…

          • special siren

            Yes but I think phil is trying very hard to burn his bridges. His supposed family member, who I suspect is really his agent, has said he’s unhappy with klopp and their relationship has been on the slide for 6 months. Coincidence that it only went on the slide and he’s unhappy after he signed a 5 year contract. Then yesterday again, sources close to philippe have said liverpool players sympathise with him. Really, he put a request in a day before our game and the players feel sorry for him. That’s rich. But anyhow I don’t think klopp will like all this. We really didn’t need the circus that’s surrounding us at the minute.

          • gegenpressing

            Yeah…if he !makes his position untenable and cannot be reintegrated into the team, they have to let him go. The opposite of Sakho…

    • Kylian Mmmbopp

      I would remove his brain and knee caps right now.

      And i will do the same to Origi as well. Utter useless waste

  • Stromdiddily

    If FSGs opinion for this season is fuck it, which based on the glaring needs still apparent in the squad, it is. Then it’s probably best for my health if I adopt the same mentality.

    We’ve all seen what this squad can and can’t do. The single addition of Salah into the 11 still leaves a lot to be desired for the window. Here’s hoping Klopp is a managerial God and can conjure up a miracle. If not, consider the expectations reset and let’s just enjoy the ride.

  • Pierre Levert

    Not seen or heard any of today’s football, chaos at the moment between the move back to the UK, was the performance as bad as the posts are suggesting?

    • OldFlaky

      Yes 🙁

    • gegenpressing

      Don’t think it was that the performance was bad (we saw Liverpool play worse quite a few times last season), it was more that it was deflating and in line with what we already knew about the team (making it hard to believe that things will improve). With Klopp maintaining that the team is good enough and a perceived lack of activity in the transfer window, a lot of fans believe they already know how this will turn out…That defense (back 4 and keeper) looks nothing like that of any title winning side I have seen…

      • Pierre Levert

        Your last sentence is straight to the point, everyone expected defensive additions to try and sort this problem out, maybe there is still time, though not much…

  • On a bright side, Chelsea lost a game and their captain for a game vs Spurs.

    • GOLDEN family <3

      If they lose that to watch Conte change his formation and go on to win the title.

      • they looked shite with 4 at the back mate, relegation material 🙂

  • jolive

    have to laugh, every year it’s ‘prem is white elitist when it comes to managers, look at Chrissy Hughton, top manager and he never get’s a look-in’. No, he isn’t shit coz he’s not white, he’s shit coz he’s shit

    • OldFlaky

      Shit is shit, shit don’t have any other color then shit.

      • GOLDEN family <3

        Your perception of shit colour will change after you have some 2 dozen different Indian food. Your shit will be as colourful as our festivals 😂.

  • OldFlaky

    Fucking sheik-city, changing attention to baps and music, cheers!

  • OldFlaky

    Shrek scored I see, fucking scumbag!

  • Boy, reading this report of mine, I’ve made more typos than Moreno defensive mistakes. Yikes. I hope I got them all now.

    • OldFlaky

      Just had my first customerchat on WhatsApp after gazillion beers, that was a challenge!

    • GOLDEN family <3

      You write match reports where you can’t do fuck this shit like Eric. You have the most difficult job. Nobody would write report after watching performance like that.

      • I can, but Eric is the perfect counter-balance for me being uptight 🙂

        • GOLDEN family <3

          And we love that.

  • globalcockup

    Same old same old no wonder couts wants to leave! (disclaimer: I didn’t even get a chance to watch the game)so I suck as a fan also 🙂

  • OldFlaky

    No BTSports, that was a deliberate handball!

  • OldFlaky
  • Stan Dinaround

    I tell you, Klopp has learnt fuck all from the last couple of season.. He still has a woefully thin squad, he still plays exactly the same way expecting something different, and he still fucking wastes perfectly good opportunities top change things in a proactive manner with his subs.. What the fuck are they supposed to do for us in the 85th minute… Its starting to really annoy me.. How is it Liverpool always end up in these situations.. We so friggin smart, we can do things differently attitude, yet still looking shite. Brilliant.

    • jolive

      on the bright side, we’ve still only ever lost one game when Lov/Mat have started so there’s 35 points right there.

      • Koma

        On the brighter side, we have the PL Asia cup.

      • Stan Dinaround

        You high again?

        • jolive

          maybe i should’ve put a winkey/smiley face after

        • globalcockup

          I heard a rumour jovie is addicted to pain Killers

          • Stan Dinaround

            Hey, he seems happy, and thats all that matters.. Besides, he said I can have some…

          • jolive

            ye Purplehazamol

    • MightyDiego

      Brendan would have been crucified for such a performance. On balance (and given the turmoil and distractions), I’d say BR’s reign was pretty damned good.

      • Riiseandshine

        What the fuck has Brendan Rodgers got to do with any of this? He got sacked two years ago..get the fuck over it!

        • MightyDiego

          It’s the lessons that should be learned from that matter. The unfair vilification and how nothing has changed. You are part of the problem. A man-clown with nothing meaningful to contribute. But putting all that aside, how are things? It’s been a while.

    • GOLDEN family <3

      Don’t know why Grujic didn’t came. We needed more height as we know they will rain down crosses but we bring Milner.

    • Kylian Mmmbopp

      Cant agree more. When he first arrived, he said we needed to sort out the defence before anything else. On this woeful first game, he has learned fuckall. To borrow your line. Fuckall

  • Ste

    Tepid..

    • Brighton Red

      putrid ~ are Hoffenheim better than Watford ?? ~ if they are we might be out of CL before it starts.

      • GOLDEN family <3

        They lost just 4 games in entire season. None at home.

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