Persistence in “gutsy triumph” fuels belief Reds can go the distance – Media on Watford 0-3 Liverpool

25 November 2018

The media praised Liverpool’s persistence in chasing victory and the defensive performance in the 3-0 win over Watford at Vicarage Road.


Jurgen Klopp’s side delivered a clinical away performance to record what is now the Reds’ best ever return from the first 13 games of a Premier League season.

Three second-half goals earned all three points, with Mohamed Salah’s sharp finish, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s brilliant free-kick and Roberto Firmino’s close-range header doing the damage.

This is a great win for the Reds in a potentially tricky fixture after international disruption, and Klopp will be delighted with his side’s professionalism and clinic edge.

Here’s how the media assessed the victory at Vicarage Road.

The media felt it was a vital win and praised Liverpool’s persistence in finding victory and chasing Man City

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 24, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce assessed the victory as the sort of result that will provide belief that the Reds can “truly go the distance” this season:

They remain in hot pursuit of Manchester City and this is the kind of gutsy triumph which will fuel the belief that Klopp’s men can truly go the distance.

The Mail’s Riath Al-Samarrai lauded the victory, praising Liverpool for winning so convincingly at a tricky opponent even after international disruption:

That is an important context for this win – Watford are a good side.

Beating them here hasn’t been easy for anyone and yet Liverpool did them for three after only one day of preparation following the end of the international break.

Writing for Goal.com, Neil Jones praised the Reds’ resilience and tenacity to continue grinding out wins to stay on Man City’s tails:

What must they make of Klopp’s men over at the Etihad, one wonders?

As Pep Guardiola’s City run through their obstacles with ease, routing West Ham 4-0 at the London Stadium on Saturday, Liverpool stutter and get their feet caught and yet still find a way to drag themselves over the line, week after week.

On a similar train of thought, Pearce rightly commented that Klopp’s side can only keep doing their job to stay within touching distance of Pep Guardiola’s side:

Liverpool must simply take care of their own business to ensure they are still in touch when the clubs meet at the Etihad on January 3.

The watching journalists were impressed by Liverpool’s defensive display and control in performance

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 24, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First of all, our own Henry Jackson felt the “winning mentality” Klopp has instilled in the team shone through:

There is a winning mentality that Klopp has created as his tenure has gone on, and to use a good old cliche, Saturday’s victory was the ‘stuff of champions’.

Pearce labelled the defensive performance “outstanding” and singled out Andy Robertson for praise:

The soft centre which Klopp inherited has been well and truly addressed. Defensively, the Reds were outstanding once again.

[…]

But Andy Robertson was the pick of the bunch. The Scot epitomises Liverpool’s heady mix of combative edge and attacking invention. The Reds left-back won battles all afternoon and was relentless down the left flank.

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe was particularly impressed by how Liverpool stepped it up after half-time and labelled the second-half performance the “most complete showing this season”:

The patience and maturity made the second half their most complete showing this season.

Reporters weren’t all completely sold on Klopp’s tactics despite the victory

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 24, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ESPN’s Glenn Price praised Klopp for being bold deploying the attacking 4-2-3-1 set-up away from home and felt that the Reds still retained a good balance:

Jurgen Klopp made the brave call to use his 4-2-3-1 system for the first time away from Anfield this season. There was some very good intricate play between the four attackers.

Despite having so much firepower on the pitch, Liverpool looked more balanced and controlled midfield — a sharp contrast to the matches prior to the international break.

However, Jackson thinks there are still lingering concerns with the 4-2-3-1 formation and questioned Klopp’s decision in switching Salah and Firmino’s roles in particular:

Although Liverpool ended up getting all three points away to a good Watford team, there are lingering concerns about the manager’s choice of system.

[…]

Salah enjoyed one of the all-time great Liverpool seasons by an individual and Firmino enjoyed his record goal tally – is it really worth suddenly switching things up?

Oppositely, Jones feels Salah’s shift to a central striker has enabled the Egyptian to hit top form, and lauded him for delivering another decisive contribution:

Salah’s shift from a right-sided forward to a more central striker has been notable in recent weeks, but it has coincided with a return to something like full sharpness.

Here, he was lively even when his team were not, and his ability to provide decisive contributions at key moments make him indispensable.

And looking at where the game was won, the BBC’s Steve Sutcliffe felt Liverpool’s full-backs were key as they continually moved forward and stretched Watford’s defence:

However, Alexander-Arnold and left-back Robertson both came to the fore – though the latter was fortunate not to concede a penalty.

Both players enjoyed more touches than Liverpool’s celebrated front three of Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Meanwhile, our man Joel Rabinowitz noted Klopp’s wise use of subs in introducing James Milner for Xherdan Shaqiri to see the game out:

His patience paid off, though, making no changes at half-time and then bringing on Milner for Shaqiri to kill the game once Liverpool got themselves in front.

The media gave verdicts on which Reds impressed and struggled at Vicarage Road

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 24, 2018: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jackson lauded Virgil van Dijk’s performance and believes the Dutchman is the best centre-back in the world currently:

Virgil van Dijk was immaculate at the heart of the defence, taming the physical Troy Deeney, making crucial tackles and winning everything in the air.

[…]

Football supporters will forever be biased, but there is none involved when suggesting Van Dijk is the world’s best centre-back currently. He simply is.

Price was impressed again by Xherdan Shaqiri and feels the “elite” attacker is becoming an “un-droppable” player for Klopp:

Salah keeps on scoring and Xherdan Shaqiri‘s performances are making him become virtually un-droppable.

Liverpool appear to have secured an elite starting forward for just £13 million.

ESPN’s Nick Miller saw positive signs of Firmino finding form again and he thinks this could be essential to Liverpool rediscovering their best attacking play:

But generally speaking, when Firmino plays well, Liverpool’s front three plays well. This might be why they haven’t hit the attacking heights of last season, as for much of this term he’s been a yard or so short of his best form.

[…]

If Firmino can build on how he played in the second half here, they will be much more confident about how things will pan out.

It wasn’t all good though – the Evening Standard’s David Lynch felt Jordan Henderson failed to repay Klopp’s faith and was critical of the captain’s performance, in particular for getting sent off:

However, the midfielder did not perhaps reward that show of faith as he endured a mixed afternoon at Vicarage Road.

The Englishman’s limitations in possession were regularly exposed by Watford’s decision to sit deep and try and close space in more dangerous areas. And his decision to go in for a late challenge on Etienne Capoue having narrowly avoided a second booking moments before was inexplicable.

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