Any tweets about Liverpool hiring an open top bus to celebrate a win over Watford had to be put on hold on Sunday as Jurgen Klopp’s side fell to a 3-0 defeat away at Vicarage Road.
The latest setback for Liverpool completed a tough week for the club after the media and community of armchair supporters inevitably questioned Klopp’s decision to lead his players in thanking the fans following the 2-2 draw against West Brom.
Klopp and all Liverpool fans will be first to admit that Watford deserved everything they got from the game. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo humiliated the Liverpool defenders and ran the show from start to finish.
I’m reluctant to mention replacement goalkeeper Adam Bodgan’s mistake for the first goal, but that somewhat set the wheels in motion. Having said this, there are no excuses for the way his teammates responded.
Liverpool’s performance raised more questions than it answered. We are certainly not title contenders if the players continue to show this inconsistency. Roberto Firmino was nowhere to be seen for the first half, expressed by tweets by Reds fans who were surprised to see that the Brazilian had been on the pitch in the first place.
There is no doubt about it, he is really struggling at the moment. His movement was no better than that of Christian Benteke in previous outings nor was his application to pressing and stretching the opposition. I can’t recall Firmino or any Liverpool attackers forcing the Watford backline to run towards their own goal during the first half.
The danger became very obvious, very soon. We looked incapable of running beyond what turned out to be a solid Watford bank of four while we couldn’t afford to commit more men to achieve this due to how quickly the Watford strikers exposed the weaknesses of Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel. It was a disjointed performance against a supposedly ‘less-fashionable’ team that in fact executed a high pressing and counter attacking game perfectly.
Liverpool were abysmal in defence and almost as bad as the 6-1 defeat to Stoke last season. It is worrying that Martin Skrtel is quite possibly our best central defender given how weak he looked, especially against Ighalo for the second goal.
The defensive issues continued with it looking likely that Skrtel could be out injured for some time after withdrawing before half time. That means Klopp only has Kolo Toure as an out and out defensive partner for Sakho with Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez also injured.
Alberto Moreno also fell into the trap of once again forgetting he is a defender by leaving Almen Abdi and Allan Nyom acres of space to run into down their right hand side time and time again, which was eventually punished when substitute Valon Behrami crossed for Ighalo late on. The fullback’s performance flew the flag for the future use of the 4-4-2 formation that benefited Watford so greatly.
If the Spaniard wishes to show such impetus to attacking, he needs a partner to work with, whether it be a left sided midfielder in front of him that will cover for him or even a central midfielder. A good example of this in practice is the growing partnership of Jordan Ibe and Nathaniel Clyne down the right hand side. Speaking of Nathaniel Clyne, the former Southampton remains to be unconvincing and, like Moreno, would definitely benefit from a partner to work with.
In all honesty, the game at Vicarage Road displayed weaknesses in most areas of Liverpool’s game. Adam Lallana was his frustrating self, looking neat on the ball as per usual but failing to threaten as a goal scorer or even a creator. Even Philippe Coutinho struggled to conjure anything for his side.
The attacking trio of Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino were bullied and made Klopp’s choice of formation look pointless given how little they offered up front to compensate for their lack of defensive work. Yet again, a day to forget for Liverpool.
A few, if you search extremely hard for them. Jordan Henderson’s long range passing qualify as a positive, I suppose. He produced several Gerrard-esque cross ball passes in the first half, showing both his accuracy and ability to take advantage of space left open by the opposition.
The introduction of Divock Origi can also be looked on positively. For many, the Belgian deserved a start on Sunday, however it wasn’t to be. While he couldn’t turn the game on its head, he at least troubled Craig Cathcart and Miguel Britos by threatening with his pace in behind when he came on. He looks to be the most confident and most focused striker Klopp has fit at the moment which makes him the front runner for a start against Leicester.
I never thought I’d be scared about facing Leicester in the league. If we perform as we did on Sunday, I’m fearful of what Jamie Vardy and co might do to us. Get us back on track, Jurgen!