There was a Sunday League feel to this often scrappy game as Liverpool ground out a win thanks to two unanswered goals against Watford to take them to the top of the table.
Liverpool 2-0 Watford
Premier League (30), Anfield
April 2, 2022
Goals: Jota 22′, Fabinho 89′ (pen)
Alison – 7 (out of 10)
Made an important save from Juraj Kucka just a minute before Liverpool opened the scoring, making himself big in a one on one situation as he does so often.
Wasn’t required to do much else, but participated well in the build-up play when needed.
Joe Gomez – 8
Did his best Trent Alexander-Arnold impression in place of the team’s primary creator down the right.
Had been getting forward regularly and provided the cross for Jota’s opener, guided towards the near post to where the Portuguese had made his run.
Almost set another when his ball into the box at the start of the second half nearly made its way to Robertson.
Caused a moment of worry when he passed the ball to Cucho Hernandez, but it was an otherwise impressive performance for a player who might be needed in this position more often as the season goes on.
Joel Matip – 7
More troubled than his centre-back partner, especially when Kucka found a way in behind the defense on that side, with Joao Pedro’s chance also coming in that area of the pitch.
Matip wasn’t to blame for either, and they also looked offside, so ignoring these, it was another solid enough outing for the second-best center-back in the league.
Had more touches than any other player on the pitch, with 114.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
More of the same from the world’s best defender. Even managed to brush aside Ismalia Sarr on one occasion.
Finished the game having won six aerial duels and with a pass success of 90%.
Andy Robertson – 7
A typical hard-working performance from the left-back on his return, after missing the Reds’ last outing due to Covid, along with some useful contributions in attack.
He also did some good recovery defending, and his pace down the left in both directions is important.
Jordan Henderson – 5
Thiago was the standout of the three and perhaps stood out even more due to average displays from those alongside him.
There were some sloppy moments in midfield from everyone else, including the captain, who finished the game with a success pass below 80% after starting in the No. 6 role behind shifting to the right-sided No. 8.
Curtis Jones – 5
Got into some good positions early on, but blasted a shot over when he found space on the edge of the area.
Would no doubt have liked to have made more of another chance in the starting XI with competition heating up, but couldn’t really affect the game despite those good positions he found himself in.
With a knock to his ankle, he was the first to be withdrawn.
Thiago – 8 – Man of the Match
Liverpool’s best footballer was close to the top of his game, especially in the first half, making things happen in attack and putting a foot in when needed in defence.
His no-look pass to Jones early on was particularly jaw-dropping.
Apart from one moment in the second have where he decided to take on numerous Watford players before losing the ball, he was the best player on the pitch.
Mohamed Salah – 6
The sight of a new mural depicting the Egyptian King will no doubt have picked him up following his recent disappointments with his national team, as the Liverpool bus drove past it on the way to Anfield.
Looked to be carrying some fatigue into the game itself, though there were still some dangerous moments as he cut in from the right-hand side.
Roberto Firmino – 7
Similar to many of his teammates, he took up good positions but wasn’t always able to affect the game from them.
He should have made more of one particular break in the second half, but it was generally a hard-working performance and an overall positive one from the Brazilian.
His pass success of 92%, the highest in the team, shows how effective some of his link-up play was as he dropped into midfield.
Diogo Jota – 7
Netted his fourth goal in five games across his recent appearances for Portugal and Liverpool.
Had a chance to add to his tally shortly after but saw his shot from a narrow angle saved by Ben Foster. Henderson wanted the pass, but Jota only wants goals.
Showed his heading ability again in the second half but this time connected too well, sending his effort over from a free kick.
Was dragged down in the box to win a penalty late on, the Watford defender perhaps overly wary of this aerial threat.
Fabinho (on for Jones, 62′) – 7
Netted a confident penalty in front of the Kop to seal the win.
Sadio Mane (on for Salah, 69′) – N/A
Operated on the right-wing for the last ten minutes, giving the Watford defenders another pacy threat to worry about.
James Milner (on for Thiago, 90′) – N/A
Missed the chance to the penalty by only a few seconds.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Konate, Alexander-Arnold, Tsimikas, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diaz
Jurgen Klopp – 7
The Reds boss now has decisions to make all across the pitch, and with an intense run of fixtures it’s important he gets them right.
Managing the players’ workload will be important, especially as many are coming back from busy international breaks.
The result showed he got things right in this game, and the performance was just about good enough to claim the victory.
It also showed there is plenty to work on if they are to maintain this run against better opposition.