Liverpool produced one of their best performances of the season as they thrashed Watford 5-0 on Wednesday night. Braces from Sadio Mane and Virgil Van Dijk bookended a Divock Origi strike as Jürgen Klopp’s side ensured they remain ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table.
Trent returns to provide plenty of ammunition…
The discussion since Sunday’s draw with Manchester United has seen a lot of ifs, buts and maybes, particularly surrounding what could have happened had a more attacking approach been taken and the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold been playing.
Liverpool’s attack suffers greatly without the young fullback in the side, and if you wanted to know what matches can be like with him in the team, then Watford was the prime example. Three assists to Alexander-Arnold’s name – the youngest player to ever achieve such a feat in a Premier League fixture – and the Englishman was truly a delight to watch.
Three pin-point and perfectly executed crosses led to three of the Reds’ goals, and Trent was a threat that the Hornets simply couldn’t deal with. Not to be outdone by his fellow full back, Andy Robertson also chipped in with two assists and looked to be returning to better form than of late. The difference having the pair in the starting XI makes is huge, and both will be undroppable for the rest of the season.
World-class performers not hard to find in the red half of Merseyside…
Of course, Alexander-Arnold was not the only superb performer out on the pitch, and three of his more defensive-minded colleagues put in fantastic shifts. Joel Matip has really hit a positive run of form since getting a run of games with Dejan Lovren out injured, and was there to cover efficiently when the rare occasion arose that Virgil Van Dijk was caught out of position.
Van Dijk and Fabinho must get a big mention – the former was his usual imperious self and also popped up with two headed-goals late in the second half, while the latter was once again on hand to end countless Watford attacks and make effective use of possession.
Van Dijk is the best centre-back in the world, and Liverpool fans would be mad to want to swap Fabinho for any other defensive midfielder in the League. Even Alisson, who had another quiet night, was on hand with a brilliant save to deny Andre Gray and maintain the clean sheet. This Liverpool squad is now full of world class players, and in matches like this, they highlight just that.
Attack flourishes despite Firmino absence…
The biggest problem Klopp had to solve heading into the game was how to replace Roberto Firmino – left out as a precaution ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby. Many supporters wanted to see Xherdan Shaqiri given a chance, but it was instead Origi who was selected, though a tactical tweak from Klopp saw the Belgian deployed on the left wing while Mane played as the central striker.
The decision paid dividends within 20 minutes as Mane gave his side a two-goal lead with a pair of exquisite finishes – the second of which was an outrageous backheel that he purposely bounced into the turf in order to get it over the hapless Ben Foster. Salah was unable to get his goal, but simply terrorised Watford’s left-hand side with the trademark right-to-left runs that sees Salah at his best.
The threat of the Egyptian drew defenders, leaving the likes of Origi with space to exploit. Origi’s inclusion was a sensible one and to his credit, the attacker was fantastic. He used the ball well, scored a terrific goal and was constantly working hard and tracking back. Origi is on fire, Everton fans are terrified.
Reds showcase how they will have to win the title…
The requirements from the match were similar to that of the Bournemouth encounter a few weeks ago. Win, but win in style and with a performance that exudes confidence. On both occasions these boxes were ticked, and that is exactly what the Reds must continue to do if they want to win the title.
In what has been a season of such quality, emphasised by point totals, there is no way Liverpool or City will win the Premier League by stumbling over the line and winning only a few of their remaining games. Liverpool have already spent most of the campaign proving they can grind out victories, but now is the time to really kick on and start winning games in a dominant manner that is reflected by the scoreline.
With ten matches to go, it is likely that at least eight wins will be required to finish in first, and Klopp and his players need to keep playing like a side that is confident and determined to go all the way.
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