Football: Hornets sting, Reds stink

While Liverpool’s strikers shot blanks, Watford’s Odion Ighalo showed his menace and class, with his header (above) giving him his second goal in yesterday’s 3-0 triumph. Juergen Klopp will have much repair work to do before the Reds face high-
While Liverpool’s strikers shot blanks, Watford’s Odion Ighalo showed his menace and class, with his header (above) giving him his second goal in yesterday’s 3-0 triumph. Juergen Klopp will have much repair work to do before the Reds face high-flying Leicester City in their next game. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Juergen Klopp.
Juergen Klopp.

Liverpool's frailties highlight problems facing Klopp, with 1 point from 3 games

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Watford 3

Liverpool 0

Juergen Klopp's heaviest defeat as Liverpool manager was also his most humbling.

A BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE

It was 1-0 and our reaction was really bad. We lost our mind and  stopped playing football.The second goal was very easy,we can defend this better...The start to the second half was very good,we could have scored two goals, but we didn’t and then the third goal. Yeah, game over.

JUERGEN KLOPP

On days like yesterday, his job feels huge. Liverpool's defensive deficiencies are becoming more apparent by the week. The imbalances in his squad, the product of others' spending, make his task tougher.

After a bright start under the German, Liverpool have taken one point from three games.

They were beaten by Newcastle and blown away by Watford who are nicknamed the Hornets. The promoted club, rather than the 18-time champions of England, are only one point off the top four and just one behind Manchester United.

They have the potent strike force and captain Troy Deeney and scorer Odion Ighalo ran Liverpool ragged. Mamadou Sakho was given a torrid time by the twin attackers, all muscle and menace.

Quique Sanchez Flores' 4-4-2 formation can feel old-fashioned but it is working brilliantly.

As Liverpool failed to press Watford, as his players produced a hapless display, Klopp cut an angry, animated figure on the touchline.

His plans were in ruins long before the final whistle. He kept changing formation and personnel, like Brendan Rodgers in overdrive. Midfielder Lucas Leiva ended up as a makeshift central defender. Roberto Firmino started as a false nine. It was a ploy that worked brilliantly at Chelsea and Manchester City. It backfired at Vicarage Road.

Before half-time, Klopp had sent for a specialist striker - tellingly, Divock Origi, as the out-of-sorts Christian Benteke remained on the bench until the 74th minute - when Martin Skrtel limped off.

With fellow centre-back Dejan Lovren out for a month, it compounded Klopp's injury problems at the back.

Not that Skrtel's presence proved particularly beneficial.

Liverpool's soft underbelly was exposed from the off.

Klopp's goalkeeper was culpable when West Brom scored from a corner last Sunday. A week later, there was a repeat of sorts. Minus the injured Simon Mignolet, his deputy Adam Bogdan proved the wrong sort of understudy.

He dropped Ben Watson's corner and, as he regained it, Nathan Ake kicked it out of his hands and in for his Watford goal.

Three minutes into his league debut for Liverpool, Bogdan's bow was all too forgettable. He later saved well from Ighalo but the damage had been done.

Ake's strike was a rarity. Watford's goals invariably come from their two centre-forwards, who have contributed 81 per cent of the haul.

Both played parts in Ighalo's 11th of a productive campaign.

Deeney lofted the ball into the box. Ighalo held off a typically ineffectual Skrtel and angled his shot past Bogdan.

While Jordan Henderson almost pulled a goal back after the break, Watford had more of a threat.

Ighalo doubled his tally by heading in Valon Behrami's cross and Watford have now won four consecutive top-flight games for the first time since 1987.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'HORNETS STING, REDS STINK'. Print Edition | Subscribe