Observations as Liverpool Continue to put the Pressure on Man City
Liverpool surged to a 3-0 win against Watford courtesy of a strong second-half performance at Vicarage Road. The fine margins of football could’ve made it a very different result had the home side gained a penalty when the scores were level after Robertson appeared to bring down Will Hughes, but a growing telepathy between the front three was enough to see Klopp’s side retain their strong start. Liverpool fans confident of victory should really have a peek at this site if they want to bet on the reds.
Mohamed Salah bagged his ninth goal of the campaign to break the deadlock before a sensational free-kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold doubled the score. Henderson’s late red card would make things tenser than they otherwise might have been, but a counter-attacking move saw the game out with a late strike from Firmino.
Here are the observations from the match.
Virgil van Dijk shines again
In his post-match comments, Klopp was keen to point out that his side rarely showed such control in proceedings last season. For all their attacking brilliance, there were occasions when Liverpool looked so self-destructive at the back you wouldn’t have bet on them seeing out a result even at two or three goals up. This season has been the opposite; marshalled by Van Dijk’s growing influence and authority, Liverpool bagged another clean sheet on Saturday, looking assured in their defensive duties.
The Dutchman, in particular, dealt brilliantly with the physical presence of Troy Deeney, restricting his influence on the game with timely interceptions and headed clearances. A result that marked the sixteenth clean sheet in 28 Premier League games since Van Dijk signed for Liverpool, the improvement he’s made to the team cannot be overstated.
Andy Robertson’s engine just keeps on running
The left-back embodied Liverpool’s sheer determination to gain maximum points at Vicarage Road, relentlessly running down the flank to provide the attacking incision that’s become consistent viewing since his £8m move.
That element to his game was perfectly epitomised by a surging counter-attacking run for Liverpool’s third of the afternoon, showing immense desire in the 89th minute to go full throttle. Being down the other end of the pitch, he produced a timely cross that led to Firmino’s strike. It’s becoming increasingly unfathomable that the Scot cost just £8million. Surely the best-left back in the league?
Roberto Firmino must be played higher up the pitch
Opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation again, Mohamed Salah led the line while Roberto Firmino dropped into a more withdrawn No.10 role as he has done for much of this season. The Brazilian would often drop off from the tip of Liverpool’s attack in 2017/18, linking play and interchanging positions with Mane and Salah, making a nuisance of himself for opponents. However, this season has seen that grow further, providing somewhat of a hindrance to the attack. Dropping deep in central midfield to get on the ball, Firmino’s influence on proceedings in the opening forty-five minutes was hugely limited. A player so pivotal to the way the team play, it’s imperative Klopp gets the best out of his main man as quickly as possible – all fingers point to a change of system in order to do so.
That was acutely evident in Mohamed Salah’s opener. The first instance where Firmino positioned himself higher up the pitch, stationed just outside the area, he produced an incisive, perfectly weighted pass in behind the defence for Sadio Mane. The forward’s driven cross would later find the feet of Salah from close range, tapping home to send Liverpool into the ascendency. A mere example of the fluency that ensues from Firmino playing higher up the pitch, it’s something Klopp would do well to think about in the coming weeks to keep up pressure on Manchester City.
Record points haul to keep up the pressure
Liverpool are now on their best points tally after 13 games of a Premier League campaign with 33. For all the dreams of more exhilarating football or rampant 5-0 wins that were a feature of last season, the club remains hot on the heel of Pep Guardiola’s side.
Much of the talk might be about the frustrations of making a record start to the season and being restricted to second place thus far, but City will be equally flabbergasted that their surreal start sees them just two points clear. It’s very much all to play for, all Liverpool can do now is continue on their path, picking up maximum points and retaining their unbeaten record to make City aware that any slip-ups will be pounced on.