Talking Points: Liverpool 5, Watford 0

Salah (4′, 43′, 77′, 85′), Firmino (49′)

Mo Salah’s first Liverpool hat-trick helped his side thrash Watford at Anfield yet again and move back up to third in the table. The Egyptian scored four goals in the end, and also set up Roberto Firmino for the Reds’ other goal. Here’s The Anfield Talk’s Lewis (@TizTaz99) with the Talking Points from our big win this Saturday. 

Sensational Salah moving beyond Suarez 13/14 standards…

36 goals in all competitions now for the Egyptian King, with 28 of those coming in the Premier League. Extraordinary. The last time a Liverpool player was causing this much destruction and putting so much fear into opposition defenders was when a certain Uruguayan striker scored 31 goals in the 13/14 League season. We all remember how good Luis Suarez was that season, but it is now easily possible that Salah is having an even better season and playing at even higher levels. There are just so many astonishing things about Salah, from his ridiculous consistency and ability to score in nearly every game he plays to the way he manoeuvres the ball and how it sticks to his feet. Salah’s first goal was so reminiscent of Lionel Messi’s goal against Bayern when he sat Jerome Boateng on his backside before slotting past the keeper. You cannot ignore the fact, Salah is the closest thing to Messi as an attacker out there, and is playing just as well this season. With seven games to go, Salah only needs an easily achievable four goals to overtake Suarez’s tally, and the Egyptian looks the front-runner to win the Golden Boot and Player of the Season. Brilliant.

Reds learn lesson about tempo while trying to control game…

It was the perfect start for J├╝rgen Klopp’s men as Salah gave them the lead after just four minutes, thus giving them a good platform to control the game from. It is clear to see that in the last couple of months Liverpool have worked hard on being able to control games better and modifying their tactics to know when to sit off and slow things down. Watford were more than happy to get everyone behind the ball even at 1-0 down, but around the half-hour mark the Reds had slowed the tempo of the game down too much, and some mistakes from Jordan Henderson especially let the Hornets get back into the game. Fortunately, the visitors didn’t possess much quality in attack and barely troubled Loris Karius in this period, but against a better side, this could be different. Slowing the game down can be useful, but too slow and players lose concentration and mistakes occur. Even when playing in a more controlled manner, Liverpool need to ensure they are still creating chances and giving their opponent something to worry about.

Henderson stands out as poor performer…

Most Liverpool players put in good performances against Watford, with the likes of Salah, Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane the standouts. But Henderson, on his return to the starting XI after being left out against Manchester United last weekend, was rather poor. As stated earlier, it was Henderson’s sloppy passes and poor touches that presented Watford with their rare chances in the first-half, mistakes that are really not helpful when you’re only 1-0 up. The role of a deep-lying playmaker is crucial when playing against a deep block, and too often Henderson surrendered possession before he could think about passing forwards. And sadly when the Englishman was passing, it wasn’t incisive as the passing by his fellow midfielders like Gini Wijnaldum. Even Virgil Van Dijk was switching play better. Henderson will always be a highly debated player at Liverpool, and often has good games that he doesn’t get credit for, but against Watford he was not at the required levels.

Increasing tally of clean sheets proving that Klopp’s side can indeed defend…

The game against United showed that Liverpool still of course have things to work on defensively, but as part of their ‘learn how to control and see out games better’ mission, recent matches have shown a pleasing improvement in the number of goals conceded and clean sheets recorded. The arrival of Van Dijk and form of Karius have massively helped, and since the Dutchman’s arrival, six clean sheets have been kept in 11 games, with only three goals conceded in the last seven games in all competitions. The statement that Liverpool ‘cannot defend’ is a lazy and incorrect one and is just people jumping on a stupid bandwagon. These improved defensive displays will only increase in frequency with further training and investment, and are helping Klopp’s side on their way to becoming a well-rounded unit.

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