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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Win over Watford

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We take a closer look at what was a more routine win than the narrative would have you believe.

Liverpool FC v Watford FC - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The tense mood at Anfield might not have done a good job of showing it on the day, but the Reds won again this afternoon, taking their points tally on the season to a staggering 49 out of 51 possible points, having won 25 of their last 26 games in the Premier League. They weren’t at their explosive best today, but a win is a win is a win, and this side barely ever does anything but that.


Winners

Alisson Becker: Beyond the ability to use your feet better than your average stopper, playing as a goalkeeper for a side that gives up as few shots as Liverpool comes with its own challenges. Sure, you rarely have to stand on your head for extended periods of time to save your side, but maintaining your concentration on the few occasions you have to step in after long periods of inactivity is not much easier.

Alisson Becker was the world’s most expensive goalkeeper for a week or two last summer, and has, without a shadow of a doubt, proven to be worth every single one of the 70 million Euros the Reds paid for him. The Brazilian averages only two saves per match, and did exactly that again today, but against Watford, the saves were not only massively important, but also of the highest quality.

It was a third consecutive clean sheet for the 27-year old following his return to the side after getting sent off against Brighton, and if the Reds are about to find a way back to their shutdown defensive prowess from last season, their lead at the top of the table will begin to look all but unassailable.

Mohamed Salah: It may not be part of the main narrative around the Reds this year, but Liverpool’s Egyptian king is quietly having a great season. With 13 goals and six assists across the Premier and Champions League, the former Roma man is directly involved in a goal every 91 minutes, more often than any other player in the Reds’ squad.

Having half as many assists again as goals should really put paid to the idea that the 27-year old is a selfish element on the pitch, and he remains on pace to beat his goals total from last season, in which — despite not living up to his explosive debut season — he did win the Premier League’s top scorer title alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sadio Mané.

Mo is just fine, is the point. He is in fact doing really fucking well.

Losers

The Home Crowd: For a team that is leading the Premier League with eight points, and sitting 14 ahead of their most likely rivals, Liverpool’s home crowd certainly seemed nervous on Saturday. Sure, the Reds only took four shots in the first half and were only up by a goal at half time — temporarily taking their lead to 11 and 17 points over Leicester and Manchester City, respectively — and sure, Watford had two good chances to even the score at the start of the second half, but given the home side’s proclivity for fighting back from much harder spots than leading by a goal, the anxiety among the Anfield faithful seemed excessive.

We understand that years of conditioning has made Liverpool fans apprehensive of fully believing good things can happen, hell, we’re still learning how to accept that ourselves, but at this point, perhaps the players have proven that we can afford them a little more trust than fearing the worst when leading the league’s bottom side by a goal at home.

Hamstrings: Dejan Lovren was substituted twice with hamstring trouble in the past week, and was replaced by Joe Gomez today, and in the 60th minute against Watford, Georginio Wijnaldum was forced off with what looked like a hamstring issue. The Reds certainly have midfield depth to cover for the Dutchman for a while, particularly with Naby Keïta finding his form in recent weeks, but with Fabinho already ruled out until at least the new year, and with the fixture list not looking any less congested in the immediate future, Klopp will be hoping this is the last midfielder that will hobble off the pitch in 2019.

The English winter is undoubtedly doing its part in contributing to these recent injury travails, and hopefully, the upcoming trip to warmer climates will be a boon for aching muscles.


What Happens Next

Speaking of which, the Reds are going on an adventure! Tomorrow, Jürgen Klopp and his charges travel to Qatar (Booo!) in an attempt to win the Club World Cup for the first time in the club’s history. Many fans have entirely rightful apprehensions about traveling to and competing in a competition held in such a human rights nightmare of a country, and some would even have appreciated the club boycotting the contest entirely, but given that they are in fact going, Reds everywhere will be united in the hope that Klopp can add to the club’s trophy cabinet yet again.

In Qatar, the Reds will face the winner of the quarter finals match between local champions Al Sadd and CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey on Wednesday night, before hopefully taking on the winner of Flamengo and Al-Hilal in the final on Saturday.

Oh and a couple hours before all this the Liverpool U23s will play Aston Villa in the Carabo Cup. We are all heavily invested.