Liverpool began life in 2017/18 as they lived it throughout 2016/17, with woeful defending and exciting attacking play. It was hardly even surprising when Stefano Okaka scored from a corner kick within the opening eight minutes.
Sadio Mane pulled things back with a magical run and finish, but once again was let down by shoddy defending allowing Abdoulaye Doucoure to find acres of space in the box as the midfield failed to track back.
The second half saw an improvement, with Mohamed Salah winning a penalty for Roberto Firmino to score before he added another himself after Firmino’s lobbed shot was going wide of the target, giving Liverpool the lead only two minutes after being behind.
A late corner again showed Liverpool up though and Simon Mignolet’s dreadful arm waving routine allowed Miguel Britos to head in from what looked like an offside position to equalise three minutes into injury time.
Here are how the Reds players rated:
Simon Mignolet – 4
Given the number one spot ahead of Loris Karius and Danny Ward, he did little to justify it. Flapping around hopelessly, he almost added an own goal in injury time. Looked unsure, communication was poor and Mignolet didn’t look anything like the goalkeeper who established himself in the second half of last season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
The youngster’s inexperience showed at times. He was too often caught out of position having roamed forward to support Mohamed Salah. A little sloppy on the ball, but generally reliable.
Joel Matip – 5
Given his stature, he must do better in the air. He was made to look weak by Watford as they consistently bulldozed the defender out of their way. Should be the leader of this defence but looked anything but that on Saturday lunchtime.
Dejan Lovren – 5
For all his shouting and pointing, he doesn’t add much to Liverpool’s defence. At least much more than a liability. Rash challenges diving in cost his side, and like Matip, was poor in the aerial and physical battles
Alberto Moreno – 4
Failed to win a single tackle in the first half. His pre-season form had suggested that he could have been a surprise presence in the squad this season, and Klopp clearly agreed. In truth, he failed to live up to that tag and is unlikely to feature again.
Jordan Henderson – 5
Uncomfortable as a holding midfielder. He failed to track the runners and didn’t look anywhere near as fit as he should be. As captain, he has to stand up and lead his team. He didn’t do that at Vicarage Road.
Emre Can – 6
Not excellent but the pick in midfield. His creativity and drive forward was a valuable asset as Liverpool looked to ease the pressure on their defence. The German was at fault in the build up to the second goal though with a sloppy and needless back heel.
Georgino Wijnaldum – 6
Struggled with his defensive duties. Looked to get forward well and threatened with shots from distance. At times failed to stamp any kind of influence on the game and was merely a passenger.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Poor in the first half, he stepped up massively in the second period. His pace and skill on the flank was a threat and on another day he could have had more than one goal. Blasted two chances high and wide when he should really have done better.
Roberto Firmino – 7
Far from his best, but the Brazilian took his penalty calmly and confidently and his wayward shot turned to an assist for Mohamed Salah’s goal. Needs to step up in Philippe Coutinho’s absence.
Sadio Mane – 7
A nuisance, particularly in the first half when he was one of very few to emerge with any credit. Tired as the game went on, as is to be expected after a short pre-season, but it was a promising start with a fantastic goal.
Divock Origi (for Firmino, 81) – N/A
Limited time to make an impact but kept the Watford defence busy in the closing stages.
James Milner (for Salah, 86) – N/A
Kept things tight at the back and added much needed leadership and experience.
Joe Gomez (for Alexander-Arnold, 90+1) – N/A
Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
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