Liverpool 2-0 Watford
Premier League, Anfield
14 December, 2019
Goals: Salah 38′ 89′
Alisson (out of 10) – 9 (Man of the Match)
One good first-half save from a low cross-shot, though it did fall straight to Ismaila Sarr – who fluffed his close-range rebound shot.
Terrific block-save soon after the break, followed up by a really good one-on-one stop against Gerard Deulofeu. Most of these stops came at key moments in the second half, with the Reds only a goal up and looking leaky. Make no mistake, these saves helped enormously in the quest for three points.
A first clean sheet of the season at Anfield for Ali and the third inside the last eight days!
Some nice deliveries from wide, as you’d expect, and always an outlet in space down the right.
Not overly involved in truth, especially compared to some games at Anfield, but the work rate and positioning was there defensively.
Didn’t always do too well against Deulofeu, fouling him and allowing the cross easily once or twice.
Joe Gomez – 8
Made a terrific and forceful block tackle midway through the half to prevent a certain Watford goal.
Started the second 45 with a good piece of one-vs.-one defending against a counter-attack and his passing was crisp, while he also made a brilliant recovery tackle inside his penalty box.
One moment of danger came from him trying to control a bouncing ball, which almost ended in an own goal from…
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Other than one moment with ten minutes left on the clock, this was a very strong and composed performance.
After Gomez lost the ball, Van Dijk attempted a back-pass to Alisson, which rolled straight past the ‘keeper and, fortunately, a yard wide.
Other than that it was mostly faultless, ushering away Watford‘s attackers with grace and power, doing well aerially and showing good pace to go against Sarr.
James Milner – 6
Solid, reliable, didn’t get too involved down the left other than a few overlaps.
Booked in the second half for a late tackle and switched into central midfield soon afterward. A little better there as he was able to spray passes both ways, but this was functional more than fantastic from full-back.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Not one of his best days, but neither was he among the worst in the team. A few misplaced passes early on, a yellow card for a pull-back and some very, very wild efforts at goal.
Against that, he worked hard to hold the fort in the centre and was quick to combat any Watford counters with some good covering runs, but we could have done with a bit more from him and his central partners on a day when the opposition were working harder than they had done all season.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7
Some very good, bustling, energetic defensive cover work, especially in the right channel.
His usual self on the ball in terms of being neat and tidy in deeper areas, and hard to knock out of possession, but in a two-man pivot he was infrequently able to surge forward and help out in the final third.
The worrying aspect, though, was the sight of him leaving the pitch holding his hamstring, shortly before the hour mark.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 6
Not really involved in the first half, with Watford quick to close him down and passes to him often being in deep areas.
Second half he started with a terrific cross which was headed in by Sadio Mane, only for the ‘goal’ to be ruled out for offside.
Hard-working and a squad member coming in for game time – can’t ask for fireworks every time!
Roberto Firmino – 5
Not quite at his sharpest right now. Missed his touch once or twice and failed to link consistently with his partners up top.
Was involved in the buildup to the opening goal, and still gets himself into good areas, but just doesn’t have the killer instinct at present.
Missed a really good chance to kill the game for the Reds on 73 minutes, hesitating with his shot to get the ball back on his right foot.
Sadio Mane – 8
A constant outlet for the Reds as usual, perhaps the team’s most important player in build-up phases.
Didn’t always quite have the right end pass in the first 45 minutes, but linked nicely with Milner and eventually freed Mo Salah for the opening goal. His fantastic header was ruled out but he was always involved in our best attacking moves.
Created the killer second in the end, racing down the right channel and pulling the ball back for Origi, who teed up Salah.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Bursts into life in short, electric spells. Playing as a striker seems to suit him this way, though he could be better at times in promising one-vs-one situations.
Finished really well on his right foot after sprinting away, cutting inside a defender and beating Ben Foster with ease.
Bustling and tricky in the box throughout and wrapped up the win with a cheeky flick in for his and the Reds’ second.
Andy Robertson (on for Wijnaldum, 58’) – 7
Some nice overlapping runs straight away, sent over a few crosses and generally upped our potential to create.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Shaqiri, 69’) – 7
Kept the width, delivered some nice balls into the area, won the ball back well.
Divock Origi (on for Firmino, 87′) – 7
Only had a couple of minutes but still got an assist: a mis-hit shot which found Salah, who scored.
Subs not used: Adrian, Williams, Keita, Lallana
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Continued his recent policy of rotation, bringing Shaqiri, Milner and Gomez amid a systemic switch to 4-2-3-1, too.
The team wasn’t at its most dynamic and the midfield in particular looked stagnant at times, but options are running a little limited there just now.
Made good subs which had an impact and the rotations should help keep most players fresh. Job done this time, rather than a fantastic job.
Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not