Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were on top of their game as Liverpool cruised to a 5-0 win over Watford on Saturday.
Liverpool were on the money from the get-go, with Mohamed Salah appearing to be in the kind of relentless form that has earned him rave reviews in the early stages of the season. And it was the Egyptian forward who set up the opening goal with a brilliant piece of movement before producing a gorgeous pass to set up Sadio Mane, whose first time shot beat Ben Foster.
The Watford no. 1 was busy in goal all throughout and made a couple of smart stops to deny Salah in the first half. However, Liverpool doubled their advantage through Roberto Firmino at the end of a slick move, with James Milner providing the final pass for the Brazilian. Post the interval, the Reds remained firmly in control of the proceedings.
And in a space of just two minutes, Liverpool doubled their advantage, as Firmino tapped home another goal in the 52nd minute before Mohamed Salah danced his way around the Watford defence before scoring from close range.
The Reds continued to torment their hosts thereafter and finally added some sheen to their scoreline in injury time, as Firmino converted Neco Williams’s low cross from point-blank range to make it 5-0. The result sends Liverpool temporarily to the top of the table, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Caoimhin Kelleher: 6/10
Making his first away start in a Premier League game, Kelleher, who was the Player to Watch in our preview, enjoyed one of the easiest outings of his career as Watford produced just a couple of shots on target all game. Did make a decent enough save to preserve his clean sheet in the second half, and did a superb job filling in Alisson Becker’s boots.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Passed fit to start, Alexander-Arnold stitched together play smartly, showing typically astute chemistry with Mohamed Salah with respect to their movements in underlapping and overlapping. Not overly creative, but he did not really need to be playing on top of his game either.
Joel Matip: 7/10
Partnering Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence again, Matip held his own smartly against the tricky Ismaila Sarr. Showed some nice reading of the game to snuff out the half chances while also winning each of his duels in the air. Like van Dijk, he was also precise with the ball at his feet, completing 93 percent of his attempted passes.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
A smart performance by van Dijk, who organised the backline cleverly and helped his teammates in the defensive lineup in setting up some superb offside traps. All of that meant Kelleher was never really put under pressure bar a couple of instances. Facilitated an efficient build-up from the back with a 93 percent passing rate.
Andrew Robertson: 6/10
A game wherein Robertson never really got out of second gear, although there was no real need to do so either. Picked up a knock on his ankle in the first half but soldiered on till around the hour mark and defended diligently despite the slight issue.
Naby Keita: 7/10
One of the workhorses in the middle of the park for Liverpool, Keita put in the hard yards to harry the Watford players off the ball. Linked up well with Salah in particular and did not shy away from aiming a shot at goal either. Won five duels while completing four tackles as well, in a solid display overall.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
Sitting at the base of the Liverpool midfield in the absence of Fabinho, Henderson helped assert the visitors’ control on the game. Some of his usual first-time passes were well exhibited and opened up play nicely at times. Held the team together in the few moments when Watford threatened.
James Milner: 8/10
James Milner has provided an assist in 18 Premier League seasons. pic.twitter.com/0Wrmhs5PgN
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 16, 2021
The ageless wonder that is James Milner provided another reminder of just how valuable he is to Liverpool. The veteran’s tireless work ethic was on full show, and it was Milner who ran the show for the Reds in a sense. Showed impeccable chemistry with Sadio Mane to set Roberto Firmino up and played a game-high four key passes in the game. What a brilliant player.
Mohamed Salah: 9/10
Typically boisterous in his approach to the game, Salah was the danger man for Liverpool on Saturday and ran rings around Danny Rose all game long. The pass to set Mane up for the opener was simply magnificent, and got Liverpool going. Got the goal his efforts deserved with a superbly carved out finish. In a league of his own at the moment in the Premier League.
Roberto Firmino: 9/10
Back in the starting lineup in place of Diogo Jota, Firmino was typically industrious while also posing a major threat in the Watford box. It is his brilliant movement that produced the second goal, and he was eventually in the right place at the right time to score the simplest of tap-ins.
Then, in the second half, he showcased similar movement to score a couple of more goals to complete a popular hat-trick. And if not for a couple of sloppy giveaways, this was a perfect ten for Firmino. Just the kind of performance the Brazilian forward needed to show he means business again.
3 – Roberto Firmino has scored the second hat-trick of his career in the Premier League (also v Arsenal in December 2018), becoming the only Brazilian to have netted multiple hat-tricks in the competition. Samba. pic.twitter.com/KsKNQR701M
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 16, 2021
Sadio Mane: 9/10
Mane has showed promising signs early in the 2021/22 season and this was another top notch showing by the Senegalese, who showed brilliant understanding with Salah and Milner leading up to the first two goals. For the first, he moved off Craig Cathcart’s shoulders at the perfect time before finishing off the chance, and for the second, he spotted Milner’s run behind him smartly. Job well done.
Kostas Tsimikas: 6/10
On for Robertson, Tsimikas helped Liverpool see the game out in the final quarter of the proceedings, although there were a couple of nervy moments off the ball. Helped give Robertson some rest ahead of the game against Atletico Madrid, though.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
Introduced in place of Alexander-Arnold, Oxlade-Chamberlain did well to keep Liverpool in control and stitched together play smartly. Misplaced just a couple of passes and even played a key pass.
Neco Williams: N/A
While Neco Williams was not on the pitch long enough to warrant a rating. However, he did do well to grab the assist for Firmino’s third goal.