LONDON • Jurgen Klopp praised the "maturity" of his Liverpool side after weathering an early Watford storm to extend their unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a 3-0 win at Vicarage Road.
His men laboured for long spells on Saturday but claimed an ultimately convincing win with three goals in the last 23 minutes from Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
"In similar games last year, we were not that convincing. They had moments but you can't stop that. Controlling it and staying in that mode, being positive, that's new for us," the German manager said.
Despite a blistering start to collect 33 from a possible 39 points, Liverpool still trail champions Manchester City by two points.
But the Reds are doing remarkably well just to remain on City's coat-tails even when they are not at their flowing best.
Salah prodded home the opener when Liverpool's "Fab Three" finally clicked into gear with Sadio Mane's cross picking him out for his ninth goal of the term.
Alexander-Arnold's "dream" free kick into the top corner gave the away side a two-goal cushion before Firmino rounded off the scoring after Mane's effort rebounded into his path.
And Klopp hailed his side's response after truncated preparations due to many of his players returning from around the world after the international break.
"I have to explain how difficult things are," he said. "I know you always expect perfection, but we had exactly one session to prepare for this game because the players came back on Thursday."
The only downside was Jordan Henderson's late sending-off that will see him suspended for next Sunday's Merseyside derby against Everton, and Klopp felt the captain took one for the team. "Things like this happen when you play defensive midfield," he added.
However, Henderson's ban did not temper Alexander-Arnold's belief that Liverpool have now "set a marker down" ahead of the clash with the Toffees, who secured their fourth win in six league games after a 1-0 home victory over Cardiff.
He told the BBC: "Hopefully we will be able to build on that. We have another massive game at the weekend."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS