Watford 3-0 Liverpool
Well, that was the Premier League shock of the season! A 3-0 scoreline was an expected result for this game, but to Liverpool, not to Nigel Pearson’s Watford.
Be under no illusion, the scoreline didn’t flatter the hosts one bit as they set about Liverpool from the off. Ismaila Sarr scored two second-half goals and Troy Deeney added a third as the Hornets cut through the Reds at will.
The two teams emerged from the tunnel at Vicarage Road separated by 55 points. Now it’s 52…
The Reds came from behind to beat West Ham last week, a good result for the Hornets who are in a six-way battle to beat the drop, along with the Hammers. And before a ball was kicked, the Premier League 2020 tips for relegation had Nigel Pearson’s side just outside the bottom three, but close enough to Bournemouth to guarantee a nervy few weeks ahead.
But this was just the tonic they needed, and the last thing Jurgen Klopp wanted to see.
Highlights of the game
Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu is a quality player, and he was the most likely to create something in the first half-hour until he was injured and replaced. On 10 minutes, he collected a ball from Abdoulaye Doucoure and cut in before firing a shot narrowly over the angle of post and bar.
Then, he played a beautiful one-two with Deeney and almost put Doucoure in, but Virgil van Dijk made a last-ditch block. It took Liverpool 20 minutes to get their first effort on goal. Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain passed to Mohamed Salah on the right, but the Egyptian fired into the side netting, and that was the Reds only attempt in the first half.
Deeney was a handful as ever, hassling the Liverpool defence at every opportunity. He started the game as Watford’s top scorer with five goals, and his long-term absence through injury was the main reason for the Hornets’ poor first half of the season.
He scored all five goals since his return in December and was determined to make his presence felt. After Deulofeu was substituted when he twisted his knee, Deeney became the most likely to create something. He almost scored just before the break when Alisson spilt the ball but recovered to divert his lobbed effort away.
Ismaila Sarr had a great chance to break the deadlock early in the second half as he was clean through on goal, but Alisson got a firm had to his powerful strike. But he scored the opener soon after when the Hornets got the goal they deserved. Deeney was in the thick of the action, blocking Dejan Lovren to allow the ball to run to Doucoure, who crossed from the byline for Sarr to poke the ball home.
That was a shock for the Reds, but on 60 minutes the champions-elect were totally stunned. Deeney slid a ball through the Liverpool defence and Sarr was clean through again. This time, he lifted the ball over Alisson for a delightful finish to make it 2-0!
Adam Lallana hit a beautiful volley from 20 yards out, but it smashed against the post and away to safety. Were the Reds about to launch a comeback?
Well, no! And it was that man Deeney who turned a good night into a near-perfect one after Liverpool’s defence fell apart. Trent Alexander-Arnold tried to pass back to Alisson, but Sarr, brimming with confidence, intercepted it and put in Deeney, who made a fine finish.
Sarr had a great chance to score his hat-trick on 80 minutes as he went clean through again, but this time he fired wide.
At SBOTOP odds of 6.80 to win nobody expected a Hornets victory but it was never in doubt!
It was Liverpool’s first defeat of the season and ended a six-match winless streak for Watford, who started the game three points from safety after West Ham beat Southampton earlier in the day.
This was only the second time in 172 Premier League games that Liverpool only had one shot in the first half. Imagine that.
Liverpool are potential invincibles no more. I imagine Klopp will hope to wake up to find this was a horrible dream…but it wasn’t.
The Reds have three big games to come over the next week and a half. First, they are away to Chelsea in the FA Cup and at home to Bournemouth in the league. Then, it’s back to European competition on 11th March.
Liverpool have a one-goal deficit to make up in their Champions League second leg, having fallen behind to Atletico Madrid thanks to a Saul Niguez strike.
The Hornets have a difficult run of fixtures coming up: away to Crystal Palace, at home to Leicester City and away to Burnley. But this result will give them a huge boost. As the Premier League 2020 results roll in between now and May, there are sure to be more twists and turns at the bottom of the league, and we’ll be there every step of the way.
You can be sure of that!
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