The club’s top four aspirations are firmly back in their own hands after a narrow victory at Vicarage Road…
Liverpool have responded to last weekend’s surprise home defeat to Crystal Palace with a vital three points at Watford on Monday night.
The 1-0 victory was a third on the spin away from home for the Reds and it came via a solid and resilient display that contrasted starkly to the 3-0 defeat suffered in the corresponding fixture last term.
The success was made even more impressive by the fact it was achieved largely without star man Philippe Coutinho, who was forced from the field with a suspected dead leg after just 13 minutes.
For much of the opening half that was the only event of note as Liverpool dominated possession and territory but failed to create any clear chances from open play.
Then, seconds before the break and just moments after Coutinho’s replacement Adam Lallana had struck the bar with a wonderful dipping volley, Emre Can trumped his midfield colleague with a stunning scissors-kick from just inside the area that arrowed into the top corner.
It was a moment of audacious brilliance that will live long in the memory and should go some way to helping the German secure a new contract as he approaches the final 12 months of his existing deal.
A change in shape and some beefy attacking substitutions helped Watford to make more of a game of it in the second half but up until injury time, when Scouse hearts were firmly in mouths as Sebastian Prödl thumped the woodwork, Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren repelled the danger with impressive comfort.
At the other end, substitute Daniel Sturridge went closest to making the game safe but was denied by a fantastic low stop by Hornets keeper Heurelho Gomes.
Evaluating proceedings at his post-match press conference, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp revealed he was happy with the performance but conceded it wasn’t an easy night’s work.
“It was a difficult game as everybody saw,” commented the former Borussia Dortmund boss. “They are a difficult-to-play-against opponent, deep defending. We passed a lot, which we had to do, it’s not possible to create chance after chance.
“I thought we improved from last week when we didn’t look patient enough, but today we looked better and had these moments. Of course, we didn’t train for a bicycle kick from Emre!
“We scored this fantastic goal and then you have to stay in the game. We invested a lot and we couldn’t keep the energy level until the end. Because of the early change and having to change Adam again, I think everybody understands this.
“Near the end we could have scored one or two more but not with the biggest chances…
“We didn’t play perfect tonight, but it would’ve been really hard to accept [not coming away with all three points]. But we got them and I think the boys really deserved it.”
The victory, allied with the failures of both Manchester clubs and Arsenal to capture all three points over the weekend, leaves the Merseysiders well-placed to secure Champions League football for next season.
Klopp’s men remain third in the standings and if they can win their remaining three fixtures then only City can now mathematically overtake them, and even then only on goal difference.
Liverpool’s next match is against a Southampton side who they’ve failed to score against in three previous meetings this season.
“We need to stay focused and we need to stay concentrated,” remarked Klopp on the subject of the upcoming contest at Anfield on Sunday. “We have pressure, yes – but pressure in the end of the season, in this period, means you fight for something.
“It’s a positive pressure, so we want to keep this – we want to keep this pressure high, we want to stay focused, we want to work hard and do everything for the points we can get.
“We don’t expect for a second that it will be easy. If anybody here thinks we’ve already have the three points against Southampton then you could not have seen Southampton this season because they are a really strong side.
“It will be another hard game for us, but it is like it is. Tonight, nobody can take these points away from us, so that’s the best news and now we have time to work and prepare for the Southampton game.”
So that’s what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
Click here to see comprehensive match stats
Follow me on Twitter @superbag
|At Vital Liverpool we’re always looking for contributors so if you’re an LFC fan who wants to share his or her opinion with the masses, simply email articles/blogs to email@example.com|