Friday 27 April 2018

Five things we learned from Liverpool's crucial win at Watford

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho receives medical attention
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho receives medical attention

Emre Can's acrobatic bicycle kick before the break handed Liverpool all three points against Watford on Monday night.

Up until the German's opener, it had been a drab performance from the visitors as they attempted in vain to assert their superiority.

Even after Liverpool had pulled ahead, Jurgen Klopp's men struggled for dominance with the Hornets repeatedly coming close in the second half to finding an equaliser.

On this occasion, though, the Reds held out for an important three points that takes them another step closer towards securing a top-four finish.

Here's five things we learned:

Moment of magic saves Liverpool's bacon

Were it not for Emre Can's remarkable bicycle kick (more about that later), this would have been another disappointing result following another drab performance from the Reds. The opening 45 minutes were quite simply dire as the visitors struggled to assert their authority on the match. Liverpool's limited success against the league's lesser sides is well known.

Indeed, five of their six defeats this season have come against teams currently in the bottom half of the table: Palace, Leicester, Burnley, Hull and Swansea.

It was unsurprising, then, to see the side fail to put Watford to the sword - even after Can's opener. As the second half wore on, it was Watford who were in the ascendancy as they pushed Jurgen Klopp's men deep into their own final third. Adam Lallana's one-on-one missed effort, coming in the 76th minute, summed up the evening for the visitors as they clung on to secure all three points. On this occasion, it took a moment of magic to save Liverpool's bacon.

Déjà Vu strikes for Coutinho

It was déjà vu for Liverpool as Philippe Coutinho made an early exit through injury.  The versatile Brazilian felt the full force of Adrian Mariappa’s early challenge and, after attempting to play on, was eventually withdrawn in the 13th minute.

It was a sight that will leave Liverpool fans sweating on what is to come, though the nature of the injury – a suspected dead-leg – offers hope that the midfielder won’t be missing for too long. The visitors were fortunately able to turn to fit-again Adam Lallana but Coutinho’s departure merely adds to Liverpool’s existing injury woes. The last thing they will have wanted as they bid to secure their spot among the top four.

Can he? You bet he can

It was a moment of magic this game hardly deserved. With the game poised at 0-0 following a dismal opening 45 minutes of football, Emre Can delivered what could well be the goal of the season to put the visitors ahead.

Meeting Lucas’ delivery from the right, the German sprung in acrobatic action to direct the ball into the top right corner with a stunning curled bicycle kick. Heurelho Gomes stood rooted to the ground, without a hope in hell of getting a hand to it. A sublime, choke-on-your-pie, spit-out-your-beer goal and a testament to what the player is capable of. Kudos to Can.

Watford react to Deeney’s sharp words – but it’s not enough

Troy Deeney held back few punches in his stinging criticism of Watford’s performance in their defeat at Hull last weekend. The Hornets captain admitted that his side had played like it was a game of Fifa as they were beaten by a team reduced to 10 men. If tonight’s performance is anything to go by, Watford certainly reacted to last weekend’s disappointment.

The home side looked far more assured on the ball than they did at Hull, with the passing slick and purposeful. The backline looked equally confident, too, and more often than not got the better of the visiting forwards. As the game wore on their frontline increasingly tested Simon Mignolet, to make the final 10 minutes a nervy affair for Liverpool with Prodl hitting the upright in the final minute of injury time, but it ultimately wasn't enough on this occasion. Were it not for the individual class of Emre Can, Watford may well have taken something from tonight's game.

Deeney fails to deliver

Given Deeney's words prior to the match, many would have expected to see the Watford captain grabbing this game by the scruff of the neck to inspire his men to victory. His work rate was respectable but, in all reality, the 28-year-old offered the home side very little up front. The Hornets' best chances came through alternative avenues while Deeney struggled to leave his mark on the game.

Independent News Service

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