Football Features

Liverpool 2-0 Watford player ratings: “All the sharpness of a butter knife”

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:36, 14 December 2019

In a bizarre afternoon of football, Liverpool beat Watford 2-0 at Anfield to go 11 points clear.

In their last game before the Club World Cup, the Reds put in a display that clearly looked like they were already thinking about the Club World Cup. Liverpool were listless and needed two moments of Mohamed Salah magic to move past a wily Watford side who look much more solid under Nigel Pearson.

Here’s how the players rated at Anfield:

Liverpool

Alisson – 8 – An impressive display of dominance from the Brazilian, including one monster 1v1 stop from Deulofeu.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4 – A couple of nice passes but spent most of the afternoon going backwards getting rinsed by Gerard Deulofeu over and over again.

Joe Gomez – 7 – Handled himself really well against a physical Watford attack. Showed immense closing speed as well.

Virgil van Dijk – 6 – In typically controlled form although he did get beaten for pace by Ismaila Sarr and play a sloppy backpass!

James Milner – 5 – Nowhere near the offensive force Andrew Robertson usually is and got worked over by the Watford attack, but did alright in the end.

Jordan Henderson – 4 – Got bossed by an aggressive Watford midfield.

Gini Wijnaldum – 5 – Couldn’t get to grips with Etienne Capoue and Will Hughes’ movement.

Xherdan Shaqiri – 5 – Was on the field.

Roberto Firmino – 5 – Unsurprisingly looked below par in a more restricted no. 10 role. Couldn’t flex his full creative muscles nor effect the game defensively as he would like.

Sadio Mané – 7 – A constant thorn in Watford’s side. Mostly playing a selfless game today, bringing others into play. Played Salah in for the first goal of the night and scored a second later but had it ruled out for a ridiculous precision offside.

Mohamed Salah – 8 – A raiding force in attack. Constantly troubled the Watford defence with his movement and skill. Opened the scoring with a sumptuous strike and always looked like adding to it, finally doing so in the last minute with an utterly outrageous flick with his right-foot.

His last three goals have all been ridiculous finishes with his right-foot, and that isn’t the way you’d expect him to get back amongst the goals but that just speaks to his immense quality (he said he has been practising his right-foot post-match). Duck and cover, sports fans, Salah is finding his form!

Substitutes:

Andrew Robertson (for Wijnaldum 59′) – 7 – Was Liverpool’s third most potent attacking force despite only showing up on the hour.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (for Shaqiri 70′) – 6 – Added a bit more thrust than Shaqiri.

Divock Origi (for Firmino 88′) – 6 – Came on late and unintentionally bagged a late assist.

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Watford

Ben Foster – 8 – An immense display, both in terms of shot-stopping and sweeping play. Foster was instrumental in keeping the score down. Beaten only by a wonderstrike.

Adrian Mariappa – 6 – Ran hard up and down the touchline with some good last-ditch interceptions. Wasn’t troubled defensively until Andrew Robertson came on.

Christian Kabasele – 8 – Defended brilliantly when Liverpool tried to play through Watford but was susceptible to pace over the top.

Craig Cathcart – 7 – A monstrous display. Rejected constant Liverpool attacks.

Kiko Femenia – 7 – Handled Mohamed Salah so well. Even the goal was conceded because he did the “right” thing and showed Salah onto his weaker right foot.

Etienne Capoue – 7 – Ran the show. Had too much athletic and technical ability for the Liverpool midfielders today.

Will Hughes – 7 – An impressive, dynamic display. Liverpool couldn’t get a hold of him all afternoon.

Abdoulaye Doucoure – 5 – Impressive for the most part, drifting inbetween Liverpool’s defence and attack and always finding space. However his final ball let him down, particularly his gilt-edge shot in the first-half where he air-kicked despite being completely unmarked.

Ismaila Sarr – 4 – Ran well (including beating Van Dijk for pace) but used the ball with all the sharpness of a butter knife. Missed an absolute sitter when the ball broke to him completely unmarked six yards from goal. He swung his leg and hit nothing but thin air, summing up his afternoon.

Gerard Deulofeu – 6 – Had every single Liverpool defender on toast today. Tortured Alexander-Arnold. But in classic Deulofeu fashion he used the ball poorly, including slapping a 1v1 straight at Alisson, and that marks him down heavily.

Troy Deeney – 5 – Battled so well against the Liverpool defenders but clearly ran out of steam in the second-half.

Substitutes:

Andre Gray (for Deeney 75′) – 5 – Some nice moments of pressing but couldn’t really hurt Liverpool.

Domingos Quina (for Doucoure 87′) – n/a – Came on too late to impact proceedings.

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