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The best of 5, the positives and Atletico XI – Last word on Watford 0-5 Liverpool

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It was another utterly dominant display from Liverpool as they dispatched Watford to the tune of 5-0, with plenty of positives emerging from the lastest league victory.

There was to be no new manager bounce, instead, it was another clinic from Mohamed Salah and the Reds as they stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 20 games.

A Sadio Mane strike and Roberto Firmino hat-trick made it a five-star performance as Liverpool excelled across the pitch to restart their season after the international break in style.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by David Comerford (@Dave_Comerford) to discuss the best of the five, the positives and Atletico Madrid.

 

The best of the five goals, an easy choice?

WATFORDF, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores 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)

DAVID: Of course. For me, Salah’s goal is all about the reactions. Nobody could quite believe it. It’s the sheer audacity to do it in back-to-back games. I think the line from Peter Drury just before he took the shot sums it up: ‘He wouldn’t do it again, would he?’

When you watch it back, as we’ve all done countless times, you can hear the volume gradually rise in the away end as they start to comprehend what’s about to happen. I love the palpable anticipation. And then when it goes in you don’t really cheer, per se. You sort of lose control of your mouth and limbs. I reached a pitch I didn’t think I was capable of!

Klopp’s expression was priceless too, meanwhile, Salah just stands there going ‘yep’.

JOANNA: It just has to be Salah’s goal, doesn’t it? The sheer genius of the moment and the ability to work the space was incredible.

WATFORD, 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)

The emotion it evoked was different to that of Man City such was the stakes at the time and this one I just couldn’t help but laugh in disbelief, how he does it time and time again is unbelievable.

And I have to echo you there David on the noise when you watch it back, the travelling fans are with him throughout the entire journey and the anticipation and wonder is as clear as day.

He’s looking at 35+ goals easily here. We’re watching a living legend.

DAVID: But seriously, I can’t recall him playing with this level of confidence and I genuinely think, in this form, those historic 2017/18 numbers could come under threat.

 

Plenty of positives across the board though…

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: Liverpool put on a show. It’s as simple as that. But I was particularly impressed with the passing range Trent showed off, it was a joke at times.

After two games out he settled back into it with ease and you could tell Salah was just waiting to pounce every time Trent got near the ball. It’s easy to forget he’s still only 23.

Also, his reactions to Salah’s goal was exactly what you’d expect from a fan and it was brilliant.

DAVID: Salah’s pass for the opening goal was sublime, and Mane, to his credit, produced one of the most confident finishes I’ve seen from him in recent times.

The thing is, Mo has that in his locker. I remember he came up with a similar assist for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at West Ham the year we won the league.

I don’t think we fully appreciate his chance creation. Maybe it’s because of the narrative that he’s totally consumed with scoring goals, but he’s racked up 45 assists since he joined now and he’s capable of playing passes that cut opposition defences open.

WATFORDF, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher (L) and Trent Alexander-Arnold before the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: Agree with you there, David. It’s an area of Salah’s game that is overlooked but it was more than worthy of the praise he received at Vicarage Road.

The pass itself was sublime but the movement beforehand to leave Danny Rose in his dust was just as, if not more, impressive, and it was a lesson in how a world-class player operates.

DAVID: Another moment I really enjoyed was Kelleher’s outstanding save from Sarr. He took a leaf out of Alisson‘s book – producing some late heroics to deny the other team a consolation and preserve a clean sheet. It was the only time he had to exert himself all day.

His stock’s growing with every game he plays. He looks a really solid No. 2.

 

And the Reds XI at Atletico?

PORTO, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, September 28, 2021: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 2 game between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at the Estádio do Dragão. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: It’s an interesting one because it’s the most difficult game of the group, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win. The fact that we don’t play United until Sunday means the need for rotation is reduced, but I’m not sure Klopp will go completely full-strength.

That said, I’d probably go with four of the strongest back five, with Konate or Gomez coming in alongside Van Dijk. In midfield, Fabinho returns, Henderson plays and then Jones gets the final slot if he’s fit, for me. If not, I’d play Milner to protect Keita for Sunday.

The sensible move with the front three would be to swap Firmino out for Jota, who was an unused substitute yesterday. Usually, if you were in that position you would throw on one of your backup attackers for some minutes, so I do wonder if Klopp was holding them back for a reason or whether it was just a case of Trent and Robertson needing the rest more.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 3, 2021: Liverpool's substitute Roberto Firmino (L) replaces Diogo Jota during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: I’m on the other side of the Firmino-Jota pick, David. I’d keep Bobby in the XI, he’s high on confidence and Jota could perhaps do with a little longer with the minor fitness issue he’s been carrying.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Alisson and Fabinho in and just Kelleher and Milner out with a healthy enough gap to keep rotation to a minimum between the Watford trip and United, which is then just less than five days later.

The five substitutions do then offer some flexibility and while it’s an important game, returning with a draw would be far from the end of the world in this one.

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