Liverpool were dominant from the first whistle to the last as they returned to Premier League action with a 5-0 win at Watford, with Mo Salah setting the world on fire once more.
Watford 0-5 Liverpool
Premier League (8), Vicarage Road
October 16, 2021
Goals: Mane 9′, Firmino 37′, 52′, 90+1′, Salah 54′
Caoimhin Kelleher – 7 (out of 10)
A beneficiary of the farce that was the international break, Kelleher’s second appearance of the season was as an invested spectator with Watford unable to break the Reds down.
His first ‘save’, more of a catch, didn’t arrive until just before the hour mark and the sarcastic reaction of the home fans said it all.
And while it could be easy to switch off, a late fingertip save onto the post was brilliant.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9
Back after two games out and it straight into the thick of the action, with no player having more touches (70) in the first half than the right-back.
His range of passing was worthy of a showreel and Salah was left salivating at every turn.
And while the play would be offside Trent was not to know as he expertly got in Hernandez’s way to put off the shot in the first 45. His importance to the side was exemplified by his substitution in the 64th-minute.
Joel Matip – 7
Borrowing an adage that is readily used for his centre-back partner, it was a calm and composed performance that saw him step out of the line more than he dropped into it.
The duels he did have, Matip took care of business all the while continuing the progressive passes he has been known to serve up.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Heading the ball to himself was a clear indication of Van Dijk’s afternoon, with little in the way of a threat to defend from the opposition.
His early diagonal ball, in particular, was a thing of beauty and another nod to the skillset that was sorely missed last season.
Andy Robertson – 7
Didn’t put a foot wrong in what was an outing that relied more on his attacking thrust than his defensive actions, but he was notably quieter than his full-back partner.
With a healthy advantage and greater challenges to come, his withdrawal just after the hour mark spoke volumes and the Scot will now be well-rested ahead of the trip to Atletico.
Jordan Henderson – 7
In the No. 6 role in Fabinho‘s absence, the skipper was camped in Watford‘s half for the majority of proceedings and looked at ease – a few rash challenges aside.
With recycling the ball his key task it was a solid if not unspectacular performance on the whole.
James Milner – 8
It was back to a more favoured midfield role for the veteran, for an hour at least, and he was kept busy on the left as the Reds dominated the ball, recycling possession and progressing up the pitch.
His assist for Firmino was a hallmark of his game, winning the ball in the centre circle and following it on to create the overlap and an easy finish.
His name mightn’t have been in XI had injuries favoured the Reds but he was a key contributor throughout.
Naby Keita – 7
Perhaps not initially as sharp as his teammates but Keita certainly grew into the game, settling into Liverpool’s dominance and playing more than a handful of incisive passes.
Importantly, it was 90 minutes in the bank without issue for the first time this season and only the second time in 2021. Liverpool needs him to be a consistent option and this was a good start.
Mohamed Salah – 10 (Man of the Match)
The in-form Salah was formidable from the first whistle to the last and it left Danny Rose nervously sweating on his every move.
And he was helpless as a combination of strength, awareness and perfection personified saw the Egyptian set up Mane with an exquisite pass with the outside of his left boot.
But his relentless nature then delivered another jaw-dropping goal with his mesmerising footwork leaving Watford for dead and Liverpool fans calling for the club to give him everything he wants.
That’s eight games in a row he’s been on the scoresheet now in what was another world-class performance.
Sadio Mane – 8
There was a welcome show of confidence as a composed first touch for his 100th Premier League goal showed, but perhaps then showed a little too much with a needless backheel that sent Watford forward.
But the No. 10 was heavily involved and was ready to pounce on the numerous mistakes from the home side and could have easily finished the day with more than one goal to his name.
Roberto Firmino – 9
The first touch was closer to the level one expects of the No. 9 but in turn, it was compensated by a number of under-hit and overhit passes that halted attacking momentum.
In his first start since the end of August, Firmino’s name on the scoresheet with three tap ins was the perfect cherry on top of the cake with Liverpool needing their forward line fit and firing.
A welcome confidence booster and we’ll have more of that please, Bobby.
Kostas Tsimikas (on for Robertson, 64′) – 7 –
Injected fresh energy to the left and his late charge to follow the ball, harshly punished, was akin to that readily seen by his fellow left-back.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Alexander-Arnold, 64′) – 6 –
Showed an eagerness to make a mark, his chances were limited but did play a role in the fifth goal.
Neco Williams (on for Milner, 83′) – 6 –
A late cameo and he ended it with an assist, couldn’t ask for more.
Subs not used:
Jurgen Klopp – 9
The preparation was far from ideal with injuries and players forced to miss out due to the farce that was the international break, but Klopp and his team got the job done and in style.
There was no indication that the team had only a couple of days to prepare after jetting off around the world, and the unbeaten run now stretches to eight this season.
Liverpool look in formidable form and with six games to come in the next 21 days the 5-0 win offers the perfect foundations on which to build on to continue a strong start.
Salah’s goal was another nod to the rich vein of form he is in and it’s a scary prospect for any opposition, domestically or in Europe.
Now for Atletico. Bring it on.