Mizgan Ahmed on 20th December, 2015
An error-prone and lifeless Liverpool were humbled by Watford 3-0 at the Vicarage Road as Klopp’s tactics are starting to get figured out.
Klopp made four changes to the side that met West Brom, Sakho, Lucas, Bogdan and Firmino coming in for Lovren, Milner, Mignolet and Benteke. It was a 4-3-3 with midfield trio of Lucas, Can and Henderson; Firmino, Lallana and Coutinho in that front three; Bogdan was given his first Premier League in a Red shirt at the expense of injured Mignolet.
It was again a test of Liverpool’s guile and precision against a deep defending side and to be honest, the trio of Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino failed miserably to breakdown a well-drilled Watford backline.
As expected Coutinho and Lallana were tucking inside looking to run in behind the centre-backs, Clyne/Henderson and Moreno/Can were making those wide runs and putting in crosses. But, one thing Flores(Watford manager) figured out cleverly was that he allowed Liverpool to have possession in wider areas because neither of Firmino, Coutinho or Lallana are good enough air ball winners, he crowded the central area of the pitch which made it utterly difficult to breach through. Firimino looked absent in that crowd, Coutinho and Lallana tried to make something but lack of good good touches in and around the box made it a lot more easy to defend. Can was error-prone in his passing, Henderson was one of the better players on the pitch but sadly for Liverpool, he was the only better player for them.
The Reds struggled for precision in that final third and be quick in their thinking and imagination. Once the central area was crowded, there were no runs available for front three which they like to do, lack of a target man in the box was missing big time, Klopp was really short of his ideas on the touchline, no new tactic or anything that would suggest they are trying something different, same old sideways passing and when they get in around opposition’s box, they starve of any productive idea.
Klopp brought on Origi for injured Skrtel and in the second half, directness in play from Liverpool did cause few problems for Watford back-line, Origi was playing well as target man forward with many runners in and around him, but again not much incision to open up Watford and worry Gomes a whole lot.
The other problem was, getting cut apart from counters, whenever Watford had the ball with either of Deeney or Ighalo, they seem to have lots of spaces to attack and work the ball and create a meaningful goal-scoring chance, Clyne and Moreno committed themselves too much and make-shift center-back Lucas had a tough job to track back and hold a physically strong Ighalo.
We should say it’s a deserved victory for Watford, but it has to be admitted that Klopp’s tactics are getting figured out quite easily now, no real change made to break a deep defending side, the German looked short of ideas and the changes he made was also very obvious ones; so no real big stride change to deter the opposition. He needs to sort this out as quickly as he can as games are coming thick and fast and majority will be those where oppositions will sit deep and play on counters.