Liverpool and Watford took the cue from Arsenal and Leicester City last night and played out another goal fest for the second game of the Premier League season.
The Reds twice went behind but looked like coming away with a narrow 3-2 win before a late, late equaliser from the home side earned Marco Silva an unlikely point in his first game in charge of the Hornets.Chelsea make contact with crucial Tottenham star over stunning transfer
Stefano Okaka made it 1-0 to Watford after just eight minutes after some sloppy defending that hurt Liverpool’s ability to sustain a title challenge last season.
Sadio Mane levelled with a fine team goal on 29 minutes, but Watford were back in front just three minutes later through Abdoulaye Doucoure after yet more shocking play at the back from the visitors.
Liverpool fought back as Roberto Firmino coolly slotted away a penalty, won by debutant Mohamed Salah, who then applied the finish from Firmino’s lobbed pass just two minutes later.
More poor defending allowed Miguel Britos to bundle home a third in stoppage time making it 3-3 and perhaps giving the game the result it deserved.
With a goal and an assist at a crucial stage of the game to turn things around for Liverpool, it has to be Firmino.
The Brazil international hasn’t always convinced in that false-9 role up front for the Reds, but did the business today with a well-taken penalty and a neatly-weighted ball over the top for Salah to poke home what looked for so long like being the winner from close range.
Despite a quiet start, Firmino grew into the game and showed he can be relied upon by Jurgen Klopp, and justify the German’s decision not to play a more out-and-out centre-forward to spear-head that front three.
Failed to impress
As ever, Simon Mignolet looked far from convincing in the Reds’ goal, begging the question as to how Klopp hasn’t managed to find an upgrade anywhere in the world throughout this entire transfer window.
The Belgian was all at sea for Watford’s opener after failing to command his penalty area and organise the defenders in front of him, and in the end he could only parry Okaka’s header in on its way into the back of the net.
Mignolet was again arguably too far out of his goal for the second for Watford, allowing Doucoure to fire home more or less unchallenged.
And finally, he looked clueless from Watford’s late corner that led to the winner, failing to deal with the shot from Britos and throwing away two points in the process.
While Mignolet was poor, the most glaring individual error would probably have to go down to Alberto Moreno as he left a huge gap on Watford’s right-hand side for the second goal.
The Spaniard has never looked convincing defensively in his entire Anfield career, and a few will have been surprised to see him in at left-back today over the reliable James Milner.
As the images below show, Moreno is too rash with his decision-making and still not good enough in the execution of his tackling, as he charged out to give Watford a dangerous amount of space to attack, which of course resulted in a goal.
It is these kinds of errors that held Liverpool back last season and they can’t afford any passengers like Moreno in their side if they want to improve.
What surprised us
The most noticeable thing was the distinct lack of quality and organisation in defence – for the second game in a row at the start of this Premier League season.
Has the art of defending died? Or is this just the consequence of rusty sides still to get into full flow as they get the club season going again? Either way, it makes for great entertainment, even if it isn’t exactly encouraging for English clubs’ hopes in the Champions League.
Watford could certainly have done better on the latter two goals, though they were up against a quality Liverpool attack, but Klopp has to work on getting his side to keep clean sheets against opposition like this or they will be in for a very rough time indeed when they meet Europe’s finest later this season.
What didn’t surprise us
Mohamed Salah’s instant impact. For those who’ve followed the Egyptian’s fine form in pre-season, the goal on his debut and the threat he provided throughout is just what he’s all about.
As an addition to that, Liverpool’s front three were firing on all cylinders again as they did last season, with Salah adding even more in the way of pace and skill to that trident.
Sadio Mane marked his return with a well-taken goal, Firmino ensured he got off the mark on opening day, and Salah deservedly bagged the winner. All three of the front three on target – a very satisfying start for them.
Now the question is, will they be strong enough to continue without Philippe Coutinho if he does end up upping sticks for Barcelona?