It was arguably closer than it should’ve been, but Liverpool managed to fend off bottom side Watford 2-0 to open up an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. A goal in each half from the resurgent Mohamed Salah was enough to see off a game showing by the visitors experiencing (another) new manager bounce in Nigel Pearson’s first game in charge.
Rather than a routine win, the Anfield faithful were forced to wait until the final minute of normal time to assure themselves of the points as missed chances from both sides kept things interesting right up until Salah’s cheeky backheel finish saw the Hornets off.
Regardless of the manner of victory, it still saw the Reds keep the winning streak going in this hectic holiday period, including their third consecutive clean sheet.
“I have no problem with that [ugly win],” manager Jürgen Klopp said speaking to BT Sport after the game. “The most important thing you have to show in this period of the season is resilience.”
“[Watford] had their chances but we had [Alisson] and then we scored our goals. Apart from that of course we had to fight. Could the game have been easier? Of course, yes if we keep the ball smarter and pass it around a bit faster but that’s how it is.”
Of primary concern to Liverpool supporters, however will have been the sight of another one of their players going off with a knock as Gini Wijnaldum had to be withdrawn with what appeared to be hamstring concern. The Dutch midfielder joins Dejan Lovren, Joël Matip and Fabinho as key members of the squad missing through injury just as things keep hotting up on the fixture front.
“The boys are not tired but it is intense,” Klopp insisted. “We have to defend in some moments with passion instead of organization because it was not always perfect. But we did do that and in the moments when we didn’t do it, Ali was there.”
“It feels like each game we lose one player so that’s not too cool. That is of course our main problem. Losing the players in these sorts of situations is not good. We will deal with it but it makes not easy. At the end it’s a question of being sensible from time to time.”
The challenge only grows as the team will now split up this week to compete in both the Club World Cup in Qatar and the League Cup.