Liverpool were made to dig very deep at Anfield as a determined Watford side set up shop to frustrate the league leaders during Saturday’s early kick-off.
The Hornets, managed for the first time by Nigel Pearson, looked far more disciplined and dangerous on the break than they have done all season and really should have taken one of the gilt-edge chances they carved out for themselves.
The Reds though edged the encounter by virtue of Mo Salah’s sharpshooting with two very well taken goals, with Jurgen Klopp’s side increasing their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 10 points.
Here’s a look at how the players rated…
Alisson – 8
Made a couple of smart saves to deny Watford either side of half time. His handling was excellent in difficult, blustery conditions and his kicking was on point too. A solid afternoon for the Brazilian.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
A quieter afternoon from the local lad who had to double down and do his defensive duties. He made a couple of smart tackles and put in a hard-working shift down the right but his distribution wasn’t quite what we’ve come to expect from the youngster.
Virgil Van Dijk – 7
A steady performance from the towering Dutch defender, who was probably much busier than he ever expected to be. Barring one very wobbly back pass to Alisson late on in second-half this was a decent all-round display. He won his duels with Troy Deeney also, which was a huge boost for the home side.
Joe Gomez – 8
A composed and impressive display from the youngster who looked brilliant alongside Van Dijk. He won seven aerial duels and make a superb block tackle on Ismailia Sarr in the second-half as the visitors pressed for an equaliser.
James Milner – 6
The makeshift left-back put in another dependable display for the home side. He looked a little sluggish and heavy-footed at full-back but blossomed when he reverted to midfield.
Jordan Henderson – 7
The England international covered every blade of grass in midfield and helped to press and harry the Watford players into frequent errors in possession.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Similar to Henderson, Wijnaldum was putting in yet another industrious display before injury cut short his afternoon just before the hour.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 7
Liverpool‘s Swiss play-maker was handed another chance to impress and looked lively. His ball in for Sadio Mane’s disallowed goal was a beauty and he looked to get forward at every opportunity. Faded a bit before being hooked for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain midway through the second half.
Roberto Firmino – 5
A rare off day for the Brazilian. He was a little clumsy with his final touch at times and wasted a good chance to hit a shot first time during the second half after a tidy pass from Andy Robertson.
Sadio Mane – 7
Another excellent day for Sadio Mane in a red shirt. The Senegalese winger took his header beautifully only for yet another marginal offside call courtesy of VAR. He cracked on though and put in a lovely ball to Divock Origi in the build-up to the second goal.
Mo Salah – 9 (Man of the match)
The Egyptian is in the grove again and was at hand to apply the extra little bit of required quality to steer this match in Liverpool’s favour.
Took his first goal with aplomb, cutting in and shifting the ball well before curling it past Ben Foster and his second was a cheeky backheel in stoppage time to round off an excellent display.
Goals for Liverpool:
🇪🇬 Salah: 84 in 126 games
🇺🇾 Suarez: 82 in 133 games
🇪🇸 Torres: 81 in 142 games
The Egyptian King🇪🇬👑 pic.twitter.com/vLGrJkPHr3
— LFCVine (@LFCVine) December 14, 2019
Andy Robertson – 6
Lively and energetic as always, barring one scruffy pass which put Gomez under pressure.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 5
Injected some pace and guile from midfield put made no real impact.
Divock Origi – N/A
Late sub, scuffed his shot late on in the build-up to the second goal.
Ben Foster: 8
Foster was one of Watford’s best players despite coming out on the losing side. The veteran showed his experience, doing superbly to put Sadio Mane off in the first-half when the winger looked to be in on goal. His handling was solid and decision-making sound, could do little with either of the goals.
Adrian Mariappa: 7
Read the game well and kept his composure against Mane and Salah for most of the afternoon. A much more encouraging display from the former Crystal Palace man.
Craig Cathcart – 7
Like his defensive colleagues, put in a dogged, composed display at the back and threw himself into challenges to keep Liverpool at bay.
Christian Kabasele – 8
Another player to put in a solid shift at the back for the away side, Kabasele was excellent and hounded any Liverpool player in possession. His positional play was slightly off but Pearson should be encouraged by what he saw.
Kiko Femenia – 7
The Spanish right-back did well in tracking Sadio Mane, not the easiest of tasks for anyone at the moment. He was done for pace a few times, but given what he was up against, Femenia had a decent afternoon.
Will Hughes – 6
A few meaty tackles and some ambitious passes going forward but faded badly in the second period.
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 7
A real handful in midfield at times and deceptively skillful, he arrived well on the edge of the area for Watford as he looked to join in with the forward forays,
Etienne Capoue – 6
A bit like Hughes, Capoue started well but faded as Watford tried to chase the game and nick an equaliser.
Ismaila Sarr – 4
Fluffed his lines with a real chance in front of the Kop in the first-half and was duly contained by Gomez and Van Dijk for the remainder of the 90 minutes.
Troy Deeney – 4
Didn’t offer anywhere enough to unsettle Van Dijk. Pearson must expect more from his captain. He went close in the first-half though, after a tidy ball across the box from Deulofeu from the left.
Gerard Deulofeu – 7
Looked Watford’s most lively player and had some lovely touches. His pass to Deeney should have been converted and he forced a decent save from Alisson before hitting the bar direct from a corner.
Andre Gray – 3
Brought on for Deeney with 15 minutes still to play. Made not impact.
Domingos Quina – N/A
Late sub, no impact on proceedings.