Salah hits the record books & full-backs excel – 5 talking points from Liverpool 5-0 Watford

Liverpool returned to winning ways in the Premier League by hammering Watford 5-0 at Anfield, a game which yielded plenty of positives for the Reds.


Liverpool 5–0 Watford

Premier League, Anfield
March 17, 2018

Goals: Salah 4′, 43′, 77′, 85′, Firmino 49′


Salah in the History Books

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 17, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Sadio Mane during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It took Mohamed Salah just a few minutes and even fewer touches to open the scoring at Anfield, via an ankle-breaking body swerve around the Watford defence.

The Egyptian was really on one, creating danger throughout the game and giving the away back line no respite with his tracking back, one-on-one dribbling and running in behind.

His first goal of the afternoon was his 25th of the season in the league, the first Reds player to reach the milestone since Luis Suarez in 2013/14, while he also became the first Premier League player to notch in 20 different matches in one season since Robin van Persie in 2012/13.

Salah was relentless, claiming four goals and an assist, and is now outright the league’s highest scorer for the campaign on 28.

His strikes late on make it 36 for the season in all competitions and he becomes the first player to hit a league treble under Jurgen Klopp.

 

Impressive Full-Back Play

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 17, 2018: Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Yet again, massive praise needs to go to Liverpool’s full-backs on both sides of the pitch.

Andrew Robertson on the left, Joe Gomez on the right: the duo were an outlet, rock-solid defensively and a real threat going forward.

The Scot produced another sublime low cross—a real hallmark of his—which was this time made the most of, Salah finishing from close range.

But his all-round game was well worth noting too, with constant challenges to prevent Watford‘s buildup play getting started.

On the opposite side, Gomez made the most of his return to the lineup with an industrious and attack-minded performance.

He raided forward with strength, linked well with Salah and almost grabbed an assist or two of his own from fantastic crosses.

 

Firmino’s Greatest Season

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 17, 2018: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Few impressive Liverpool displays would be complete without Roberto Firmino rearing his head, and so it proved on Saturday evening.

The Brazilian scored a fantastic back-heeled flick from close range to make it 3-0—and it was a milestone goal too, making it his best-ever goalscoring campaign with 23 in all competitions.

For all the calls earlier in the year that the Reds needed a 20-goal striker, Firmino is now closing in on becoming the first Liverpool No. 9 to hit 25 in a single season since Fernando Torres’ debut campaign, a decade ago.

Throughout his 75 minutes, Firmino set the tone with his harassing of Watford‘s defenders, his willingness to work hard and make challenges and his own impudent brand of magic.

 

Injuries Mounting?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 17, 2018: Liverpool's manager J¸rgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If there’s a negative to take from the game at all—other than a well below-par Jordan Henderson display—it would perhaps be on a handful of injuries hitting the Reds’ squad.

Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana were both left out of the matchday squad, with the latter really struggling for any continuous game time this term.

And, halfway through the first 45 minutes, Emre Can joined them as he departed the pitch with a back problem.

Hopefully the sidelined Reds can recuperate fully across the international break, but the midfield area in particular could start to look light if further injuries are picked up while players are away.

 

Break & Restart

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 17, 2018: Liverpool's four-goal hero, with his hat-trick match-ball after beating Watford 5-0 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The international break hits now so Liverpool, like the rest of Europe, have a two-week gap until the next club fixture.

For some it will be travel and hard work, but others can regain fitness and favour on the training ground in front of Jurgen Klopp, ready to enter the final straight of the season challenging on two fronts.

The Reds face Crystal Palace after the international break in an early Saturday kickoff—that’s three particularly worrisome factors together.

Klopp’s side have often struggled in the first game back after national team matches, while early kickoffs have not yielded a single win this term from four matches.

Palace have also been a problematic side to beat in recent campaigns.

Third place is Liverpool’s for now and they’ll want to build on that and even push for second again in the run-in—as well as building form and self-belief for the Champions League.

The games will come thick and fast after the restart of club football in two weeks and Liverpool’s season will be decided and defined in short order.

More of the same from this performance and it could be a memorable campaign indeed.

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