Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool honeymoon has come to an end, Christian Benteke’ stock is falling and other things we learned from Watford 3 Liverpool 0
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Klopp does not have a magic wand
Hailed as a messiah after clinching unforgettably magnificent wins at Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton, Klopp’s status as a mortal is now confirmed. Liverpool have lost three of their last six Premier League matches – to Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Watford. Even in this barmy but brilliant season, that is a record that will prompt much gnashing of the German’s pearly whites. He can only work with the tools at his disposal and cannot turn water into wine. That much is clear. Two months into his Anfield reign, it is safe to say Klopp’s Liverpool honeymoon is now over.
Benteke has slipped down the pecking order
Having started the game with the front three who ran riot at Manchester City, Liverpool’s wretched start and an injury to Martin Skrtel forced Klopp to recalibrate before the end of the first half. But the striker the German turned to was not Christian Benteke, the £32.5million summer signing, but his junior countryman and colleague, Divock Origi. This would have wounded Benteke, who was effectively told that he was the manager’s fourth-choice option to lead the attack behind the injured Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and Origi. And that is without considering long-term absentee Danny Ings. Benteke’s stock, clearly, is falling. He is tidy on the deck and strong in the air but Klopp wants a more mobile front man who can stretch defences.
Bogdan blows his audition
This was the opportunity that Adam Bogdan had waited for. A slight injury for Simon Mignolet, a big chance for the Hungarian. Like the early corner that slipped agonisingly through his fingers, he failed to grasp it with both hands. He’ll replay Watford’s first goal over and over in his head. On another day the referee might have bailed him out by awarding a foul, but it was a basic error. It put the visitors under the cosh, before they’d even had a chance to settle. Bogdan’s aerial uncertainty was highlighted when he almost gifted Watford another, punching wildly against Lucas as he came out to meet Jose Manuel Jurado. Ahead of him, his defenders were a bag of nerves. It’s safe to say Bogdan blew his audition.
All three promoted clubs should stay up
First, it was Bournemouth dominating and then dismissing Chelsea and Manchester United in successive weekends. Then, Norwich came from behind to secure consecutive draws against Arsenal and Everton before winning at Manchester United for the first time in 26 years. With Liverpool collecting a bloody nose in Watford’s whirlwind start, here was another reminder that all three promoted teams have the qualities to maintain their top-flight status. Watford’s energy, Bournemouth’s attacking brio and Norwich’s resilience all make them difficult opponents.
Liverpool are bullied too easily
It was no secret how Watford would approach this game. Their strength lies in their front two, and their gameplan revolves around getting the ball to them as regularly as possible. Simple. Effective. Liverpool knew that, and yet looked utterly incapable of dealing with what is a pretty basic tactic. Put simply, they were bullied. Martin Skrtel, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Alberto Moreno, Lucas Leiva, Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne – they lost their battles, time and again. Even Mamadou Sakho, a powerfully built defender, struggled with the home side’s physicality. At least he had a good reson, having been out injured for six weeks and stuck with a midfielder – Lucas – alongside him following Skrtel’s injury. The others are not so easily excused.