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Reds “close to perfect” as front-three run riot – Media on Watford 0-5 Liverpool

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Mohamed Salah was again the talk of the town after a stunning display for Liverpool at Watford, with the media revelling in the manner of the 5-0 win.

The Reds were at their irrepressible best at Vicarage Road on Saturday, producing their most complete performance of the season so far – albeit against an inferior Watford side.

Roberto Firmino bagged a hat-trick and there were further efforts from Sadio Mane and Salah, as Liverpool ran riot in Claudio Ranieri’s first match in charge.

The win took Jurgen Klopp‘s team (temporarily) to the top of the Premier League, on a perfect afternoon for anyone of a Reds persuasion.

Here’s a look at how the media reacted to Liverpool’s victory.

 

The performance was magnificent, with no post-international break hangover on show…

WATFORDF, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (L) celebrates with team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo‘s Paul Gorst hailed a “perfect” outing for the visitors at Vicarage Road:

“A beaming Jurgen Klopp will rarely have enjoyed a 12.30 kick-off as much. The Liverpool boss has made no bones about his distaste for the first slot of the weekend’s fixtures upon the return from international football over his six years at Anfield.

[…]

“As the hosts prepared to begin the Claudio Ranieri era, the plucky underdogs with the ‘new manager bounce’ narratives were ready to be written by some.

“But all that angst on display in Friday’s terse pre-match press conference was washed away at Vicarage Road as Liverpool turned in an utterly dominant display to regain top spot in the Premier League, if only perhaps temporarily.

“At times of this 5-0 rout, it was free-flowing and breath-taking. It was as close to perfect as it is likely to be all season.”

The Telegraph‘s Jim White was hugely impressed by the Reds’ dominant showing:

“‘For a new manager, a first game against one of the best teams in the world, it is never easy,” said Rainieri. “I am a very positive man. I watch the players and I know now what we have to do. Now we have to improve everything.’

“That might be the understatement of the season. Though the central question of this encounter was this: were his team a shambles because Liverpool were so slick and efficient, or were Liverpool able to dominate because Watford were such an exemplar of nervy panic?

“Whatever the root cause, rarely in the Premier League is such dominance encountered. The Liverpool fans must have gone back to Merseyside with sore palms from the amount of applause they got through, acknowledging the excellence of their side.

“From Virgil Van Dijk, smooth and unflustered at the back, through the veteran midfield pairing of Jordan Henderson and James Milner, to Salah up front, everywhere they were at ease, everywhere were they in control, everywhere they were brilliant.”

The Daily Mail‘s Rob Draper highlighted just how dominant Liverpool were:

“The concept of new-manager bounce doesn’t really work when you have Liverpool for the opening game. Perhaps it would be better to judge them away at Everton and home to Southampton.

“From the moment Salah cracked his shot against the upright in the first minute, a strike belatedly ruled offside, it didn’t look good for Watford, especially for those left sided players detailed to stop Salah.

“Danny Rose started in a back three and had back up in Adam Masina as a wing back. But Masina proved a distinctly lightweight security detail, shoved off the ball by Salah in the build up to the opening goal.

[…]

“It really was that embarrassingly one-sided, like an FA Cup tie against a League One side, except that a lower league team, buoyed by the occasion, usually put up more of a fight.”

 

It was impossible for Salah not be focused on once again…

WATFORDF, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the fourth goal, the eighth consecutive game he's scored in, during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo was left stunned by the quality of the Egyptian’s goal:

“Not content with cementing his position as undoubtedly the greatest player in the world right now, the Liverpool forward has evidently taken it upon himself to make the goal of the month award his own concern by scoring the perfect Premier League strike.

“You’d have thought Salah would have been satisfied enough with his astonishing effort against Manchester City a fortnight ago that staked a genuine claim for the honour.

“But no. Here at Watford – where it all started with Liverpool back in August 2017 – the Egyptian managed to arguably go one better.

“His strike, having accepted a pass from Roberto Firmino just inside the area, had everything.”

Draper compared Salah to Lionel Messi, which seems to be a regular occurrence now:

“It feels a little like 2019. Crowds are back in stadia. A degree of normality has returned to life. And Liverpool look invincible. Specifically, Mohamed Salah look as though he can do just whatever he wants with the ball, score when he pleases like the best kid in a school game.

“In a game in which Roberto Firmino scored a superb poacher’s hat-trick, still it was Salah who provided the outstanding moments.

“As Lionel Messi possibly begins his long goodbye from the game, it as though Salah has picked up the gauntlet for scoring inconceivable goals that make opponents look like children. Two weeks ago he put down a marker for goal of the season by dribbling past four players against Manchester City.

“Here he upped the ante, giving the judges another contender to consider.”

Jamie Braidwood of the Independent was another who was left in awe of Liverpool’s No.11:

“Imagine scoring not one, but two goal of the season contenders in a single month? Mohamed Salah continued his stunning form for Liverpool with another goal that will be remembered around Anfield for some time.

“The control of his dribbling as he danced his way around Watford defenders and the finish that followed left little doubt that the Liverpool star is the best player in the Premier League right now, if not the world.

“The Egyptian thrived in the space between Danny Rose and Adam Masina that was presented by Watford’s ineffective, lop-sided system and produced another quality display.

“Rose, in particular, was given a torrid time by Salah, who had the beating of the left-back at every opportunity. When Rose dropped off, Salah was able to knock the ball around him. When the former Tottenham defender got tight, Salah used his strength to roll him, which is what he was able to do for Liverpool’s opening goal.”

 

Other positives were also touched upon, ahead of a pivotal week of action…

WATFORDF, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the fifth goal, his third completing his hat-trick, during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This Is Anfield hailed Firmino’s new-found eye for goal, comparing it to last season’s struggles:

“Give the ball to Bobby and he will score! More often than last season, anyway.

“He scored nine in 48 last term, but has six in seven already this term. So assuming he plays the same number of games, we can look forward to a 41-goal haul this season. That’s how it works.

“Perhaps not, but there’s no doubt Firmino is getting himself into those most advanced positions of all more in 2021/22 than he did for an awful lot of last year.”

Braidwood focused on a key duo being well-rested in the second half, as well as another pair returning to the fold:

“With a tough week ahead, this really couldn’t have gone much better for Liverpool. Three points felt safe as soon as Liverpool went a goal up, a position that was consolidated at half time and then all-but secured by the hour mark.

“It allowed Jurgen Klopp to rest both Trent Alexander-Arnold, who looked good on his return from injury, and Andrew Robertson ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Atletico Madrid and Sunday’s clash against Manchester United.

Alisson and Fabinho will be available for both fixtures, and Liverpool are in good shape ahead of a crucial week in their season.”

Finally, Gorst felt it was important not to ignore Mane and Firmino’s input on the day:

“For all the deserved spotlights and headlines that have been aimed in the direction of Salah so far, Firmino and Mane look like they are finally at least in the same postcode as the sort of form that has helped make the pair modern-day Anfield greats.

“With a dozen now between them, their output will be much welcomed by Klopp who is keen to stave off an over-reliance of top scorer, Salah.

[…]

“Firmino looked like he had benefited hugely from a full week of training at the AXA Centre while his colleagues Alisson and Fabinho were with the Selecao and having to divert straight to Madrid as a result.

“On this form, he could yet earn a recall in next month’s international break, but Klopp will be quietly hoping head coach Tite ignores the growing claims of Liverpool’s No.9.”

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