Set pieces provide a sting in the tail for Klopp’s side once again as he fails to win on in his 100th game in charge of the Reds. It was a match that summed up Klopp’s reign thus far, devastating at times going forward yet pegged back by the same defensive failures that plagued most of the last season.
Despite a positive showing in pre-season, The Merseyside outfit failed to break out the blocks and found themselves behind with 8 minutes gone. Corner kicks have proved a significant problem for the German’s side and it was no different here. New signing Stefano Okaka unmarked cannoned his header home from point-blank range to send the Hornets into the lead. A clear fault of the zonal marking system here, Firmino was left to deal with the boisterous forward and was placed in an impossible position to prevent the Italian finding the back of the net.
The visitors seemed very one-dimensional as they sought an equaliser, direct balls onto the head of Roberto Firmino did little to worry Marko Silva’s side. However, Liverpool broke the Watford rearguard just before the half hour mark, Sadio Mane the source of creativity orchestrated the leveller. He fed the ball into the feet of Emre Can’ path, whose slightest of touches gave Mane a one on one opportunity with Gomez and he made no mistake steering the ball into the far right corner.
Watford defined the statement “You’re most vulnerable when you have just scored” three minutes later, Doucoure on the edge of the area stabbed the ball into the path of Tom Cleverly in the right hand side of the penalty, who slid a dangerous ball across the face of goal and after a comical attempt to clear it, Doucoure lashed the ball home three yards out to send the home side into the lead at the half way stage.
The Reds who won 18 points from losing positions last season were soon level after the break. Firmino funnelled the ball into Mohamed Salah who was upended in the box by the onrushing Gomez. Firmino who it appears is the resident penalty taker when Milner is not on the field sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and pulled the Reds back on level terms.
Firmino had a hand in Liverpool’s third as well, Matip sailed the ball over the Watford back four whose clever movement presented him with a goalscoring opportunity. The Brazilian’s impudent chip was helped in by the approaching Salah who tucked the ball home.
Although the visitors had been good value for their lead, it felt as if the inevitable was on its way and that came three minutes from time. Wijnaldum was uncommitted to an important header placing minimal connection on the ball, that fell to Richardson who fired his effort into the congested area, ricochetted off the bar and onto the head of Britos who nodded home from close-range.
A frustrating afternoon for Klopp, but could be a blessing in disguise for Liverpool supporters as this game highlights Liverpool’s desperate need for a leader and a strong centre half. Did anyone say Virgil Van Dijk?
Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah.
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