It was a nightmare of an evening for Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Sunday, as the Reds were easily downed 3-0 by an in-form Watford side with a brace from Odion Ighalo.
A horrendous mistake by Adam Bogdan set the tone early, and the team followed it up with 90 minutes of lackluster football. Getting one point from their last three matches, against Newcastle, West Brom and Watford no less, is embarrassing for a team that appeared to be getting much better under Jurgen Klopp.
Klopp and his men will surely want to forget this one heading into their Boxing Day matchup with top-of-the-table Leicester City. Regardless, here are six takeaways from today’s game.
1. Keeper issues must be addressed
Simon Mignolet has been in poor form of late and with a hamstring injury ruling the Belgian out of the game, Bogdan was given the start. With an opportunity to stake his claim for the starting spot, Bogdan made a complete mess of his Premier League debut for Liverpool.
He mishandled a corner for Watford’s first goal and gave up a pretty weak second goal as well. Despite Klopp’s vocal support for Mignolet, it doesn’t appear that the Belgian or his backup have what it takes to make Liverpool title contenders.
Bogdan’s performance today certainly proved that and a new goalkeeper should be on Klopp’s priority list whether it’s in January or this upcoming summer transfer window.
2. A missing persons report must be filed for Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino hasn’t been seen since his terrific performance at the Etihad a month ago.
Against Watford in a similar formation where he was flanked by Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, the Brazilian was nowhere to be found. Lackadaisical runs, poor touches and a consistent offside position saw Firmino fail to produce yet again.
Roberto Firmino’s game by numbers vs. Watford: 0 shots 0 chances created 0 take-ons 0 crosses 57% pass accuracy pic.twitter.com/RFPwA7KZfu
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 20, 2015
Liverpool fans are bound to be scratching their heads because of their big money buy from Hoffenheim, wondering when the player they thought arrived at Anfield will consistently show up.
Lallana and Coutinho weren’t much better in the attacking midfield today either to be fair, but Firmino has failed both as a striker and midfielder in recent matches. It might be time for a change.
3. A central defender is needed
Another match, another Liverpool center back injured. Martin Skrtel was the latest victim this time, coming off injured, thus spinning Liverpool’s defensive carousel yet again.
Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure have each already been out with injuries twice, while Mamadou Sakho just returned from a month out as well. Skrtel certainly wasn’t his best against Watford but he is one of Liverpool’s best and his injury only highlights how little depth Liverpool have in that area.
With the way Lovren and Sakho played before their injuries, that pairing may not be terrible, but Liverpool will likely have to upgrade or find a solid backup to provide depth at center back or else these injuries will continue to haunt them.
4. Jordan Henderson was at least a bright spot on a dark day
Liverpool’s captain must be good every match in order to prove his worth as the team’s main leader, and since returning from injury. Henderson has shaken off the rust and performed admirably.
At Vicarage Road, he made several wonderful diagonal passes and ran as hard as ever, but to no avail. The skipper will look at his teammates when contemplating what went wrong against Watford, as he did all he could to keep the match respectable.
Henderson deserves praise for coming back so strong from a serious injury, but that likely won’t come unless Liverpool start winning matches again. Still, on a bad day for the Reds, Henderson can hold his head up high.
5. There is still no answer up front
As mentioned, Roberto Firmino was nonexistent again. Divock Origi came on and was at least lively, but still looks lost at times in the attacking third. Christian Benteke came on as well for the last 15 minutes but wasn’t much of an improvement.
Liverpool have been short on goals, and they will continue to be unless somehow, one of these forwards have an enormous change in form. Benteke is capable, Origi has his moments and Firmino has yet to prove himself, but there is something there. Klopp will have to continue fiddling with his lineups in order to find it though.
It’s just a shame because Danny Ings is out for the season, whose work rate and ability would ideally be wonderful for Klopp’s system while Daniel Sturridge remains crocked.
6. Jordon Ibe should start
Whether it’s at the expense of Adam Lallana (who has been generally solid but wasn’t great at Watford) or Firmino, Jordon Ibe should be starting matches.
The main issue is that he is the only wide player on the team, and it would create an odd shape. Regardless, Ibe has shown just about every time he’s been on the pitch under Klopp that he is capable of producing in the attacking end.
He’s gotten better and better with each game in what has been a breakthrough season for him so far and deserves to start. Perhaps his presence for 90 minutes rather than 15 will provide Liverpool with some bit of added spark?
Liverpool had a day to forget and face a tough test on Saturday against Leicester City.
However, a victory would really turn morale around, especially after deflating losses to Newcastle and Watford. Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are even more dangerous than Odion Ighalo however, which could pose serious issues if Liverpool play like they did at Vicarage Road.