Football

Watford 3-0 Liverpool: The Jurgen Klopp honeymoon period is over

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The Jurgen Klopp hype train has truly derailed.

When the German first took charge of Liverpool in October, it was full steam ahead for the first few weeks. Wins away at Chelsea and Manchester City made football fans across Britain believe the Reds could possibly turn into title challengers.

Poor Performance

For a third successive league match, Liverpool turned in a lacklustre shift. The Merseyside outfit were not just beaten at Watford, but they were embarrassed and the 3-0 loss actually flattered Klopp's men.

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Kopites wanted to see a response from their side and for Liverpool to show their real character. After picking up just one point out of a possible six against Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion, the Reds could not afford to lose anymore if they had genuine top four hopes for the season.

The performance from Liverpool oozed nothing but average and disbelief - and that's being kind.

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Watford have had a tremendous start to the campaign and it's evident why. They work as a unit, all playing for the good of the team, with captain Troy Deeney spearheading by example.

The Hornets made the game physical at Vicarage Road, and Liverpool did not have the answers nor character to respond.

Goalkeeper Problems

Adam Bogdan replaced the injured Simon Mignolet in goal and it was a chance for the Hungarian to prove his stock having played deputy for a handful of games in the League Cup.

Bogdan fluffed his lines within the first two minutes when he mishandled a Watford corner and Nathan Ake stabbed home.

In successive matches, the Reds have conceded from a goalkeeping error. If they did not go 1-0 down so early on, maybe the scoreline would have been different.

Klopp insisted he was happy with Mignolet in goal a few weeks ago. With Bogdan also displaying his frailties, the Liverpool boss may want to rethink for January and bring in a new shot-stopper.

Lack Of Character

There was a case that Ake took the ball from Bogdan's hands, but the goal stood. Liverpool were 1-0 down and those in a Reds shirt showed no character to get themselves level.

Much like at Newcastle, there was a lack of fusion between midfield and attack. Link up play was poor and there was rarely any coherence.

Jordan Henderson sprayed several passes out wide to Alberto Moreno on the left-hand side, who had acres of space when this happened. However, the Spaniard was reluctant to get his head down and head for the byline to get a cross into the box.

The lack of men in the 18-yard area was also alarmingly worrying. With no recognised striker, it was predicted Roberto Firmino would play furthest forward, but he was a spectator in this encounter.

The Brazilian was far too weak on the ball, his first touch was not good enough and he was caught offside countless times, much to the discontent of his manager.

Having been purchased for £29 million during the summer, Firmino needs to start showing he's worth his stock. He's had just one good game in the victory against Manchester City and needs to prove he can create something from nothing when his side's backs are against the wall.

Philippe Coutinho struggled to get into the game, likewise Adam Lallana. Both seemed to suffer without a natural striker ahead of them and lack of movement in the early stages made the pair unable to create openings.

When Divock Origi emerged from the bench in the first half, the Hornets' rearguard had already become accustomed to Coutinho and Lallana. Origi made some decent runs round the back, but the Watford back four thwarted most Red attacks with ease.

Benteke Reluctant To Adopt

Christian Benteke was demoted to the bench for the match in Hertfordshire and he had minimal impact when coming on for the final 15 minutes. Benteke should want to prove to his manager he's the man to lead Liverpool's front-line, especially in the absence of Daniel Sturridge, but the Belgium international is not cutting the mustard.

Benteke is failing to make sufficient movement to adopt to Klopp's tactics and it's becoming frustrating as a spectator. Liverpool resulted to lumping long balls towards his head, which were easily mopped up and cleared.

Defensive Frailties

Defensive problems still very much remain, also. Martin Skrtel appeared fazed by the in-form strike partnership of Deeney and Odion Ighalo. The pair combined for Watford's second, with Ighalo outmuscling Skrtel far too easily. The Slovakia international went off injured just minutes later; whether he did have a serious problem or he just didn't fancy the stern test is another matter.

Mamadou Sakho had been in decent form before he limped off against Crystal Palace in November. This was his first game back from injury and the Frenchman looked well off the pace. He was thrown into the deep end against a flourishing partnership and his lack of recent game-time was apparent.

If Liverpool thought Watford's attacking line was menacing, they meet league leaders Leicester City on Boxing Day. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez continued their excellence across Stanley Park at Everton on Saturday and the Foxes will seriously fancy their chances at Anfield.

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Topics:
Liverpool
Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Football
Watford

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