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Football News: Liverpool v Watford Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Watford Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective
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Watford v Liverpool

A thoroughly professional performance last night by Liverpool. No more streaming forward to leave ourselves open to the counter, which was why they struggled to create anything at all. Watford's plan was to sit deep, draw Liverpool onto them and then hit on the counter, like so many teams have done this season. The Hornets lacked any real drive, they just looked like a team comfortable in midtable to unwilling to go that extra mile to get points.

What on earth was the referee doing? One excellent decision, to book Lucas for that embarrassing dive, was completely outweighed by the rest of his performance. He lacked the confidence in himself to make any basic decisions, constantly bottling out of decisions he should have made, other than that one booking. There were so many fouls going unpunished, such as the one that forced Coutinho off, due to him not spotting them and so many easy decisions that he messed up. Every time the ball went out he needed a conference with all his officials to decide who touched the ball last, missing a clear save by Mignolet to give a goal kick to Liverpool and that terrible and cowardly decision to award a throw in when he had clearly kept the ball in was disgraceful. He must know that he is part of the field of play, according to the laws of the game, so play should have just continued, rather than being stopped for a throw in.

Overall that was just one of those end of season games where it matters to one team but has little to motivate the opponent, so it loses any chance of being a great game. Even when Watford went behind, they showed no real desire to try and get forward and snatch a goal back, despite it being clear Liverpool were trying to invite them forward and looking for them to leave some space behind for the quick counter. Thankfully Can's goal (and what a goal!) stopped it from being an entirely forgettable bore draw.

Simon Mignolet - good performance. The recent training sessions with him and Loris Karius being bombarded with pads by the coaches while jumping to take catches has really paid off. He actually looked confident taking the crosses, even when Troy Deeney was trying to leave something on him each time. Something for John Achteberg to take credit for, as, after years of the decision to keep Achteberg in the role, finally a goalkeeper is showing genuine signs of improving under his tutelage. By the way, will that save Mignolet made, which the ref missed completely, count as a save in his stats? I believe, from what I have been told, that it does not count, which makes a mockery of them, as he should be credited with a good save there.

Nathaniel Clyne - he really is turning into a weak link, Watford clearly targeted that side of our defence, despite having a right back playing at left wing back. Clyne was really struggling to cope and offered no threat to force Janmaat to hold back. At least he tries, there is none of that Glenn Johnson strolling around with Clyne, he puts a shift in, just needs to learn how to cross and not to sell himself when we are being hit on the counter.

Joel Matip - a very mixed performance. On the ball, especially when left with space to run into, he is excellent, one of the best around. However, he is weak and was bullied by Watford's forward line on the rare occasions they bothered to attack. Against a Watford team for something to play for, he would need to be much stronger. He cannot keep allowing forwards to bully him like that. That one two as he strode forward was brilliant play, though I was not so convinced by him as a striker when Lovren was showcasing his potential future on the right wing. At 1-0 I would have preferred him haring back and letting the forwards and midfielders get in the box!

Dejan Lovren - much better. Lovren is so much happier with a physical battle. Watford played to his strengths and it showed. However, he needs to man up and show some bravery. Why does a centre back feel the need to turn from a shot, rather than face it up and take it in the face if need be? He twisted away from the ball and raised his arms, at one point, in the box. If the ball had hit his arms, that is a very genuine call for a penalty. Show some heart Dejan, it is meant to be your biggest strength but that showed a complete lack of it. It is not like these balls are like the old casies we used to play with, they are more like those fly-away plastic things in weight. If you are not willing to take that lightweight ball on the chin, you are going to cost us more goals.

James Milner - another who had a mixed game, was clearly not racing forward as early as usual, he was waiting for the space to open up, but the ball was not being switched quickly enough to exploit the gaps. As a consequence, he never really got forward enough to really influence the game and he was not put under enough pressure defensively to test him either. When he did get forward, he was able to work one-twos and triangles to create himself space, something that was missing on the right side as we seem to empty that and just look to let Clyne use his pace, rather than look for quick passing. That is probably a big part of the reason we struggle so much without Sadio Mane, we are not changing our play enough to cope with the lack of a proper winger in advance of Clyne, leaving our right side fairly toothless.

Lucas Leiva - an embarrasing dive overshadowed what was an otherwise good performance. What on earth was he thinking? Just glad that the ref saw it and gave him a booking. Hopefully he learns his lesson and never does that again. I am sure Jurgen Klopp will be hoping he does not get that far forward again! Another assist, though not so sure these kind of assists have any real value, as it was not due to the quality of the ball he played in to Can that a goal was scored. Other than that, he was able to provide a front screen to cut out passing options for Watford. It is no coincidence they struggled to get out, he did well. However, I still do not like to see a midfielder drop in the way we have them doing, it invites pressure.

Emre Can - even if you forget the goal (not sure anyone who saw it will do though, as it was a truly top class, once in a career kind of goal), Can's performance was all round good. He would have been in the running for MOTM without the goal. Got up and down, involved in almost every attack, defended well, provided a real threat on our set pieces too. One of his better games in a Liverpool shirt, then you add in THAT goal. What a hit! It was not even a particularly good feed into him, looked to be dropping a bit short of the intention to give him a header to attack or put across the box. However he just adjusted his feet and managed to hook it over his shoulder while in mid-air. A moment to savour for a lad that was, not so long ago, struggling badly to establish himself.

Giorginio Wijnaldum - decent performance, but just completely overshadowed by Can. Wijnaldum has turned into a quiet cog, someone essential to the team but goes unnoticed. He does the water carrying a lot of the time, with the odd flash of skill, but it is mostly understated.

Roberto Firmino - started on the right but shifted to the left after Coutinho went off. His usual all action game, keeping Watford from being able to take control of the ball and pick passes. He hurries the opposition and it is a really important part of the performance. Unfortunately he and Origi are not on the same wavelength quite yet.

Philippe Coutinho - I think we saw how much he is seen as a difference maker by the way he was deliberately nobbled early on, which forced him off. It was clearly a deliberate and calculated move to take a yellow card but try and frighten the Brazilian. Instead it forced him off with an injury as early as the 13th minute. He never got to have any effect on the game, not even getting a free kick for the blatant foul on him!

Divock Origi - shows some great hold up play at times, but tries to do too much. The lad is clearly trying too hard, and he has not yet built up an understanding with Firmino, which makes it difficult for him to hold up the ball and play in the Brazilian. Origi clearly has no idea what movement Firmino will make, so he ends up taking extra touches, rather than risking a pass that goes to no one. That almost always ends up in him turning the ball over anyway, so maybe he would be better making the pass he thinks is right and hoping Firmino will pick up on it and learn to work with him.


Adam Lallana - made his return from injury in the 13th minute, as he replaced the injured Coutinho. It looked like he had never been away, until the final few minutes when it was clear he was out on his feet and he got substituted. Decent game, including a very nice shot which hit the crossbar and he was unlucky not to have scored with that.

Daniel Sturridge - replaced Origi in the 84th minute and made an impact almost immediately, forcing a good save from Heurelho Gomes with his wrong foot, after leaving two defenders on their arse. Actually looked like the old Sturridge for a moment then.

Ragnar Klavan - came on in the 87th minute and provided defensive cover which enabled Lovren to live his dream of being a right winger while Matip turned into a striker looking to get on the end of his cross. Other than that, Klavan had little to do.

Written by Tris Burke May 02 2017 06:00:33