Watford 3 Liverpool 3: Match Review

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the travelling supporters after the 3-3 draw during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

THERE should be a word for the pain of a draw which feels like a defeat. In fact, there should be a word for the pain of a draw which feels like a defeat, after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Because that word is the word. That word is the most the relevant word.

It hurts. It hurts because of the recovery and the second-half performance and the wider context. The wider context has nothing to do with the game. The random masquerading as the meaningful. It feels like the consequence of a bad few days. But it isn’t.

Similarly there isn’t something inevitable about the nature of Watford’s equaliser. There really isn’t, however fatalistic we feel. But Liverpool themselves seemed to invite, believe in, that same false inevitability.

Liverpool’s footballers have defended thousands of corners, thousands of free kicks. But they let context in. They believed in their own accident-tinged narrative and then there was that nameless dread of an equaliser and all the pain that follows.

Manipulating the random is what both of these managers looked to do with their players. In the first half Marco Silva’s lot did it better, creating second-ball scenarios all over the place and winning most of them. Jordan Henderson left overwhelmed, a one-man midfield because Gini Wijnaldum and Emre Can were so advanced, playing on the opposition full backs at times.

That was where Jürgen Klopp wanted to win the random. Get his lads to go long over the top and either get in or win the scraps as they came back. Time and again Liverpool looked to unleash their pace but they only opened Watford up when they got it down and played, the goal a great example of what it should look like.

Nothing should look like the other end. Liverpool opened up too easily and then falling to deal with another set piece. Watford were enormous and far better at the mixer than Liverpool could hope to be.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2017: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet look dejected as a score a second goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the second half Liverpool were unlucky from the mixer. They could have had two from set pieces but it makes little difference in the wider scheme of things. If you can’t deal with the mixer you are in the wrong league. This country has eight or nine sides in its bottom half that live for it. Others can adapt for it, for Liverpool. Not every side will be as big as Watford but will that matter? There’s enough in it for them at all times and Liverpool buy into their own bullshit far, far too easily.

But they also buy into their own potential majesty. Second half especially, the front three looked irresistible though the opening goal is everything in the right place. After half time they take Watford apart until 65 minutes and then they begin to tire. The midfield could offer them a bit more but injuries of the thigh and Barcelona variety meant Liverpool couldn’t shift the ball cleverly enough.

However, if there is a criticism of the attack it is that they don’t kill it, put Watford to bed with a fourth. They had the momentum, the chances and the ball. The front three cut a dash but not quite a swathe. That must surely come.

Fundamentally it is unfair to point at the attackers for not digging the side’s defending out. They did just enough. Liverpool as a whole did not.

We’re back. For better or worse we’re back and the better was it all going off like no one’s business when Mo Salah scored; worse when the uncoined word occurred.

It should hurt. It should blister and sting. What’s a song without you? The highs should be the highest. The lows should be the lowest. This Liverpool side can guarantee the former but it is a long way away from being able to guarantee none of the latter.

This thing of ours. Nobody said it was easy. And I’m telling you now it will be this hard. 37 more.

READ: Watford 3 Liverpool 3: The Final Whistle

READ: Watford 3 Liverpool 3: Match Ratings

LISTEN: Watford 3 Liverpool 3: The Post-Match Show

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  1. The inevitability of their equaliser is what hurts. I in no way exaggerate when I say I KNEW they were equalising when they got that corner. When leading by one goal we have this way of always giving opponents the exact kind of opportunity that suits their strengths. We contrive to do it. As the article says, we give in to the context. Gomez giving away that free-kick which indirectly lead to the corner was that period of play today. We have to manage things better and not get scared of being ahead.

    The front three were a bit delicious today. Mane’s goal was something beautiful. Salah showed what he’s about. For a wide man he scores a good amount of tap-ins, which shows his attacking instincts are sharp.

  2. Michael Marsden

    Great piece, Neil. Reading it, I felt a little of the frustration dissipate. But only a little. Fancy us to be on 10 points after 5 games, mid-September. And to be over the Hoffenheim hurdle. Chins up.

  3. Klopp has to shoulder a considerable amount of the blame for the 2 points dropped today.
    After nearly 2 years he still hasn’t got us set up right at set pieces despite the personnel.
    Not for the first time his subs have been detrimental.

  4. The positives: Mane is still money. Trent will be our Philip Lahm. Bobby was great. If Mo ever learns how to finish, he’s a shoe-in for the Golden Boot. Despite being pretty wretched we still should have won.

    The negatives: pretty much everything else.
    We probably do need that neologism because unless we learn how to stop giving laughably shabby goals away you fear this will be a recurring event. We absolutely need more gnarl in midfield and we absolutely need a main man in defence so that, as per Neil’s previous suggestion, Matip becomes the second best centrehalf, Lovren the third, and so on. But there are players and then there are systems and coaching and just stopping the same thing happening over and over and over again until we actually do stop buying into the bullshit that garbage goals-against are inevitable. Get past Hoffenheim and get some shopping done and we could still be where we want to be.

  5. RoadWarrior

    I thought we’d turned a corner towards the end of last season when we showed some grit to pick up those attritional wins that got us into the top 4. Today we looked soft and fragile once more, with our attackers having to get us out of jail three times- and even that wasn’t enough to win. Each of our front three scored today, and we still didn’t win. Every goal we score, especially the first today, feels arduous, feels earned, feels glorious. Every goal the opposition score feels like a gift. We never score a goal like their second or third in a million games (we probably have but it doesn’t feel like it). How many more games/months/years until we have competent individuals in defence and actual effective organisation at the back. I can remember fearing Drogba every time we had to play Chelsea, as I knew we just couldn’t cope with his power. He bullied us. Then I realised it’s not even Drogba alone. Stick anyone up front against us who’s lifted some weights and the majority of the time we have a problem. How many times did lovren attempt to step in front of Okaka today only to be rolled, ending up on the floor or looking like a mug. You cannot blame a player for being physically outmatched. You can however blame a player for continually making the same mistake over and over, allowing himself to be bullied and not having enough in game intelligence to think “I need to do something different here”. Klopp can do nothing about that. What he can do something about is player recruitment and stop spouting nonsense about how it’s impossible to name 5 centre halves who could improve us. Telling the fan base and the public that the work is nearly all done. Where are the fruits of his labour?

    I could be accused of knee jerking, but the fact is we’ve seen these problems for years now and we’re not addressing them. This isn’t a reaction to today’s game. It’s a reaction to a game we’ve seen since January played time and time again. It’s total incompetence. People can say we’ve tried with VVD and Keita and that it’s not LFC’s fault these clubs don’t want to sell. I think Leipzig would sell for 90 million. I think saints would have sold for 60-70 million. But it doesn’t matter. We’ve all bought into the narrative that these are our targets and that’s that. There are other players out there. It’s not good enough what we have and it won’t be good enough come September 1st.

  6. I just cannot see how this team, with this defence, with no Coutinho, beats Hoffenheim. That draw has absolutely killed us.

    The Coutinho mess, the injuries, & the awful defending which has not improved one iota makes you feel more worried than excited about this season UNLESS Klopp’s sorts his head out & brings in some much needed reinforcements.

    Klopp has been here long enough now that if he was capable of improving the current defense through training alone, he’d have done it. He hasn’t & he can’t so he has to improve the personnel or ity will be him alone who is held accountable if things go South this season.

  7. Klopp is mostly, for the overwhelming majority of the time, a genius (yes really) at the business of football alchemy. But when his players can’t sustain the high-wire act, Klopp’s main purpose in English football seems to be to demonstrate to all the non-LFC fans the truemeaning of schadenfreude.
    Long may he remain brave / foolish (two sides of the same coin) enough to put his trust in his ragtag group of players. Otherwise we have no chance of achieving the implausible.

  8. JCinSecretHarbour

    4 weak links today: Goaly, Matip, GV and Henderson.
    1. Mignonet at fault for 1st goal and secondary to blame for the 3rd goal after GV’s epic failure to clear the shit corner kick. Mignolet should have cleared the ball and man on the corner for the 1st and post GV’s massive error not clearing the corner, he was almost apologetically covering his near post for the 3rd, not shoving the attacker out of his way.
    2. Matip was the other weak link today letting down the other dependable 3 , looked all over the shop. Special mentions for Trent breezing through games, it’s rediculously easy. Classy player. Also Moreno played at a different level today. Very good.

    3. Henderson & GV very poor, leggy and didn’t show up today. Gonna say this as it’s been bugging me for some time, can anyone else see GV flatters to deceive, never brave demanding the ball or looking for an incisive forward pass, always plays the ball back or sideways.
    Big Henderson fan but looked weak today, probably still not got last weans illness out of his system.

    • I’m staggered you blame mignolet for the 1st. And who is GV?

      • The header for the first is from well inside the six yard box, goalies all day.

        • no chance – not with 5 red lads in the path of the ball and 3 more in the vicinity who’s job is to block the runners.
          That’s where the problem was, not a GK having the ball headed at him from 5 yards.

  9. “Jordan Henderson left overwhelmed, a one-man midfield…”

    How anyone contemplates on starting a sentence this way, after watching the opening game against Watford, I’ll never understand. It is Henderson who has to shoulder the most responsibility (and therefore blame) for the shambolic first half performance, and as far as I can remember, he wasn’t a noticable part of the things that were good about the second half performance neither. There seems to have always been this inexplicable bias and apologist attitutes towards Hendo from Liverpool journalists/fan channel reporting that I really cannot understand.

    To be clear, I’m not trying to hate on Henderson for the sake of it. I know that there’s value to him being on the pitch for us. I’m not enthusiastic about his captaincy, and do feel that he’s only truly great when the rest of the team is playing on their highest levels as well, but I’m not denying that Henderson is a quality player and important to us.

    But my word, if there’s anyone to be made a scapegoat out of from yesterday, it’s surely a pick of the midfield trio (a midfield where Henderson is in charge). The first half, which was our undoing in the big picture of the game, was a product of how bad our midfield was. Gini was invisible (aside from blundering shots in the second half) for the entire 90. Can has his straws to grasp for, what with the assist and the moments like when he takes the ball out charging down the left hand side in the second half. I do blame him the most for Watford’s second for the way he conceded that throw in with his back heel flick for Moreno when he could’ve cleared it or just ran out with the ball (yes, the defensive comedy that ensues from it is its own familiar story). All three of them were subpar, putting in performances of 5 out of 10 or lower, and probably lower, the lot of them. So many bad passes in midfield. And Henderson needs to run this show. He’s our captain, our midfield marshall, the controller. He disrupted none of Watford’s play, he created none of ours, he controlled none of the game.

    And nobody is mentioning this. We’re talking defense, we’re talking Mignolet, we’re talking van Dijk.
    Our biggest problem (and though it appeared only recently) for the upcoming season is in midfield. Without both Coutinho and Lallana on the pitch, regularly, we are beyond fucked. I only hope it’s for the fact that we did end up scoring 3 and creating a few more that the bells aren’t ringing on this one. The Coutinho situation needs definitive sorting and fast and we probably still need another body in there (someone highly creative or a pressing machine that Lallana is). Worst case, Coutinho goes, Lallana’s out till December, I say chuck Woodburn in and roll the dice, he’s either a superstar in the making, or we’re fucked anyway.

  10. What’s the word for when you desperately want to exhale after months and years of frustration, but just as it seems you are about to do the thing you desperately want, it stays bottled up?

  11. We didn’t control the central midfield area from the first whistle. So many balls picked up by a Watford player in the centre circle area. Yet we still scored 3 goals and a 4th just after our 3rd, we win this 5-2.
    Defensively a shambles. When you’re 2nd best in two areas of the pitch you’ll always struggle. Watford will probably not score 3 again this season.
    Didn’t like Jurgen’s comments post-match about the owners. This was the first sign of a potential split and doesn’t augur well. We need complete unity across the club and potentially selling one of your best against the manager’s wishes could take us into a bad place.
    I’m hoping there’s a clear the air next week with a renewed commitment to keep Coutinho with determined moves in the transfer market. Anything less doesn’t bear thinking.

    • Jurgen could have said what he said because he’s tired of answering questions about Coutinho, especially as the antics from the player and his camp look to have taken their toll on the manager and the team. Everyone is reading and analysing the comments differently, but at the end of the day the official statement from FSG is that the player will not be sold this window. I don’t think Klopp wants him sold either. The only choice now is whether Coutinho wants to play in the first team or the reserves this season, both at LFC. I honestly don’t know why he’d give up his spot at LFC, because I still don’t think he’ll play regularly for Barca just yet (and he was not their first choice), let alone have the team built around him. He has a better chance of fulfilling his potential if stays at the club for one more year. Really strange advice he’s receiving.

      I agree with the need for determined moves in the transfer market though. Incredible if nothing happens at this point.

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