Rampant Watford end Liverpool's invincible dream with emphatic victory

Ismaila Sarr runs off in celebration after scoring against Liverpool
Ismaila Sarr runs off in celebration after scoring against Liverpool Credit: GETTY IMAGES

O2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appne of the greatest unbeaten streaks in the history of the English game had to end somewhere, but that it came against a club who have sacked two managers already this season and nursed a relegation death-wish since August, made this a truly surreal event.

Liverpool’s invincible season is over. They will surely win their first Premier League nonetheless, a historic 30-year wait that only a force majeure or international public health event could realistically stop now but the dream of going 50 games unbeaten and taking Arsenal’s place in the record books is over. Stopped by an astonishing performance from a Watford side that began the day in 19th place and played – in the second half at least – like a more adventurous version of Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone, Carlo Ancelotti, and, now Nigel Pearson – the only three managers who have defeated a Jurgen Klopp Liverpool team, as opposed to the second string League Cup version, in a season in which the leaders have looked unstoppable. The clock is stopped for Liverpool at 44 games undefeated going back to Jan 3 last year, and this is the end of a remarkable 18 straight wins in the league. They will be eager to get back on that run come next Saturday at home to Bournemouth after Tuesday’s FA Cup tie although, for now, Arsene Wenger’s 49-game unbeaten run of 2004 is safe.

Liverpool were dreadful. Their famous front three were unrecognisable. They managed just one shot on target. Even more surprising was the defensive performance, a situation not helped by the absence of Joe Gomez, rested as a precaution, and replaced by Dejan Lovren. Lovren had one of those bad days of his but there were below-par performances from the unlikeliest of characters, including Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

For Ismaila Sarr, who scored two wonderful goals, including a breakaway finish for his second, it was a splendid day. So too, Troy Deeney, who got the third and was generally more than a match for Lovren. For Pearson it was a triumph, having faced Liverpool in his first game in charge of Watford in December when the team did well at Anfield but succumbed in the end. He lost Gerard Deulofeu to a bad injury in the first half when his team were more than a match for Liverpool before raising their game again after the break.

Gerard Deulofeu is badly injured after twisting his knee Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The Spanish winger’s right leg seemed to fold under him after the half-hour mark and Pearson said that there was distress among his players at the severity of the injury. He spoke briefly to the player at half-time when he was undergoing treatment and, by the time Vicarage Road roared its team through to the final whistle, Deulofeu was in hospital.

This is the team of “Super Nigel Pearson” as the home support sings and, after the calamity of the early part of the season, they are out the relegation zone. Pearson’s reign started magnificently but recently it has been harder and this win came after a bad run of two points in five games.

That they can keep coming back from setbacks suggests once again that Watford have the survival gene this season. “We have 10 games left and we have to emulate this form”, Pearson said afterwards more than once, but even this taciturn, old soul could not suppress a smile at what had been achieved.

Certainly, Pearson knows how to use Sarr, coming off the flanks with devastating pace and a real composure in front of goal. The Senegal international counts Sadio Mane as his hero but he eclipsed the Liverpool man on this occasion. A hamstring injury has meant that Sarr has been unavailable for Pearson over recent weeks and his priority will be keeping him fit.

Ismaila Sarr sits Alisson down to score his second Credit: GETTY IMAGES

What next for Liverpool? They are in London on Tuesday to play Chelsea in the FA Cup, and Klopp said later that it had never been him keeping count of the games on this unbeaten run. He was without Jordan Henderson as well as Gomez, and Naby Keita who has a hip injury and he rejected any suggestion of tiredness. “It’s not easy to explain why it didn’t happen for us,” he said, “but it shouldn’t be the biggest sensation in world football”.

Having recovered from the Atletico defeat earlier this month to beat West Ham on Monday, you could make the case that the pace and power of Watford just got to them. As the fixtures pile up, there will be others who feel they can do the same to the European champions. Klopp was not having a bit of it. “Why do we have the amount of points? Because we fought against each little feeling in the body, when [our] concentration level looked like it would drop, we fought against that, against fortune, against everything.” He said his team was ready, in the words of Steven Gerrard, “to go again”.

In a slow first half in which just one chance in time added on presented itself to Watford, there were the seeds of a fine performance. Will Hughes was excellent throughout although his challenge on Georginio Wijnaldum which caused the Dutchman to howl in pain might have contributed to his lacklustre performance. Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure were both dominant and Deeney was shrewd in making sure he was up against Lovren and not Van Dijk.

Troy Deeney scores his first goal against Liverpool to seal Watford's 3-0 victory Credit: REUTERS

S2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围apparr had already seen a shot tipped over when he scored his first. Deeney blocked off Lovren and allowed a throw-in to bounce over the pair of them. Doucoure took it to the byline beating Van Dijk and the cutback fell perfectly for Sarr.

His second was even better, when Hughes won the ball on the right and poked it down the line to Deeney who opened Liverpool with one pass. Sarr was on his own running at Alisson and he took his goal beautifully.

The chances kept coming. A shot from Hughes was blocked. Then, Alexander-Arnold’s back pass was intercepted by Sarr and laid back to Deeney who scored with Alisson out of position. “Can we play you every week?” sang the Watford fans, who sounded convinced they are staying up.

Jurgen Klopp

Makes a point of shaking every Watford's player by the hand before he departs. He's a class act. So City and Liverpool will continue to share the record for successive top-flight victories at 18. 

Liverpool's run comes to an end

Please feel free to add your thoughts about the game in the comments where I'll be dwelling for 15 minutes while we wait for Sam Wallace's match report. 

Full time

Watford have ended Liverpool's undefeated run with an emphatic and deserved 3-0 victory. 

90+3 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0                   

K2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围applopp hugs Pearson and Shakespeare two minutes before the end. The Watford fans whistle and prepare to roar. 

90+2 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0                  

Fabinho dinks a ball over the Watford ranks massed on the 18-yard line for Salah but Cathcart, who has been superb, tracks his run and wins the header, nodding it to Kiko who clears. 

90 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0                 

The fourth official signals four minutes of injury time. 

89 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0                

W2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appatford make their final change: Nathaniel Chalobah replaces Doucoure.

88 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0               

Watford scrap to preserve the clean sheet, throwing themselves in front of everything and snapping into tackles. Van Dijk, frustrated, decides to take on a shot from 30 yards and instead of doing a Kompany spoons it into the crowd. 

86 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0              

 Pussetto and Kiko stop Origi and Robertson getting past them down the left. 

Deeney scores his maiden goal against Liverpool to make it 3-0 Credit:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

 

83 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0             

Watford are lined up in banks of four and five and Liverpool with six up front but it's too crowded for them to find any space. Kiko gets the benefit of the doubt from the referee when seeming to foul Origi. 

81 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0            

S2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围apparr is put through for a hat-trick chance by Deeney's dink and he is just onside but screws his shot past the right post. It's his last kick as he is substituted by Pussetto though Alexander-Arnold tries to hasten his departure by giving him a push to get him off the pitch. He's entitled to milk the applause, though, for his two goals. 

79 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0           

Kabasele gets ahead of Salah by telescoping out his right leg to prevent him from turning Alexander-Arnold's manacing cross in at the near post.  

Sarr scores the second:

Watford go 2-0 up Credit: DAVID KLEIN/REUTERS

 

78 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0          

L2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appiverpool make their final change: Minamino replaces Firmino. 

77 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0         

Pereyra blocks Alexander-Arnold's clearance with a tigerish block. Klopp is taking it in his stride, smiling ruefully and switching Liverpool to 2-2-6. 

76 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0        

A2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appny Watford victory was 6-1. But 3-0, like the 2015 scoreline, was closer to 100-1. 

74 min: Watford 3 Liverpool 0       

A2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围applexander-Arnold has had a mare at the back. He misses a header that Deeney wins then when the ball comes back to him he rolls a backpass, not spotting Sarr, who nips in to beat Alisson to it, turns and taps it back to Deeney who sweeps a shot into the vacxant net with Alisson pulled over to try to reach the misplaced backpass. 

GOAL!!! Watford 3 Liverpool 0       

T2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围approy Deeney!

70 min: Watford 2 Liverpool 0      

C2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appathcart and Kabasele combine to defend Alexander-Arnold's free-kick from the right. 

68 min: Watford 2 Liverpool 0     

Sarr is picked out unmarked on the right of the box by Pereyra's cross as Liverpool commit midfielders forward but eh crashes his volley wide from 15 yards. Needed a goal of the season finish. 

66 min: Watford 2 Liverpool 0    

O2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围apprigi is sent on to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Lovely shot from Lallana from 25 yards that swerves, dips and crashes into the foot of the left post. It ain't over by any means. 

65 min: Watford 2 Liverpool 0   

No doubt Liverpool are reeling and almost left themselves exposed again but Sarr, of all people, blocks Hughes's shot with Alisson looking beaten. 

63 min: Watford 2 Liverpool 0  

Liverpool replace Wijnaldum with Lallana. Here's Sarr's opener:

Sarr puts Watford 1-0 up Credit:  REUTERS/David Klein

 

62 min: Watford 2 Liverpool 0 

The record signing latches on to soem tenaciosu wotrk by Huighes and Kiko on the whitewash by the right on halfway. The ball is threaded through Robertson's legs and Sarr is put through on goal 30 yards out. He sprints towards the box, immaculate control, staying ahead of scrambling defenders and waits long enough to sit Alisson down before chipping him from about 12 yards. 

GOAL!!!

Watford 2-0 Liverpool (Sarr)

60 min: Watford 1 Liverpool 0                                 

T2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围apperrific run from Robertson to capitalise on Kiko's positioning mistake. He bombs on down the left and whips in a cross that Kabasele hammers behind for a corner before Firmino could latch on to it. Adam Lallana is stripped and ready to come ion but not until Watford defend the corner. 

57 min: Watford 1 Liverpool 0                                

F2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appoul by Lovren gives Watford a free-kick 25 yards out from which Deeney beats Van Dijk but can't get his header on goal. Lovren and Alexander-Arnold are in trouble on the right side of Liverpool's defence. 

55 min: Watford 1 Liverpool 0                               

H2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appaven't seen Liverpool concede a goal like that since they used to be bullied by Stoke seven or eight years ago. Throw in on the left. Lovren lets it bounce and Doucoure needs no second invitation to take it past him on the left of the box and cebntre for Sarr to bury it from six yards, Van Dijk having let him go, too. 

GOAL!!!

Watford 1-0 Liverpool (Sarr)

53 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                              

Robertson runs round the back of Sarr who is dozing and picked out by Van Dijk's cute pass. The left-back takes a stride and thrashes a left-foot shot that Foster blocks and after several scares as the ball pinballs around, Foster drops on top to smother it.

51 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                             

Foster picks off a cross. Liverpool still lack the fluidity of them at theirt best.  

 

50 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                            

The Liverpool full-backs switch back. 

48 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                           

Again Liverpool prove adept at defending a corner. Strangely,  the Liverpool full-backs ahve switched flanks rather than the wide forwards. Robertson pelts down the right, plays it in to Firmino, gets it back then rolls a pass across the 18-yard line for Salah who spanks his shot straight at an advancing Cathcart.  

46 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                          

L2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appiverpool were out early, suggesting Klopp sent them out to think on after a rocket but they start just as sluggishly, allowing Sarr to bullock down the inside-left channel and skelp a left-foot shot from 18 yards that Alisson dives to slap behind.  

Half-time: Watford 0 Liverpool 0

W2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appatford have played well, creating several half-chances and a beauty for Doucoure but have lost some of their zip after Deulofeu was stretchered off in palpable distress. Liverpool haven't clicked yet but we've seen this film before. They don't need to click to win and Watford may rue not being ahead at the break. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tries to console Gerard Deulofeu who seems to have sustained a serious injury to his right knee Credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire

 

45+5 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                         

Free-kick for Watford, 40 yards out by the left touchline for a foul by Lovren on Pereyra. Masina takes it and Deeney is held around the bra area by Lovren, preventing him from getting up to head. But when he wrestles free he does have a chance as the ball pinballs past and towards Alisson. The Watford captain gets there first, turns but his first attempt to chip the keeperis brilliantly saved and the second drifts wide. He asks for the earlier foul but the ref isn't having it and blows for half-time. 

45+4 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                        

Oxlade-Chamberlain sets off on a mazy run into the box, beating two with shimmies  and feints until running into Hughes. 

45+2 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                       

W2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appatford free-kick just inside the Liverpool half for a foul on Capoue. Kiko does an Alexander-Arnold and launches a long free-kick straight out for a goalkick. Right-backs eh? 

45+1 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                      

Five minutes have been allowed for the Deulofeu delay which has killed Watford's momentum.   

Gerard Deulofeu demands help Credit: REUTERS/David Klein

 

44 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                     

Sarr tries to beat Alisson from 30 yards but doesn't even test him. Hughes treads on Wijnaldum's foot after the Liverpool midfielder laid the ball off. Alexander-Arnold takes the free-kick 15 yards into the Watford half and lifts his chip over everyone and out for a goalkick. 

42 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                    

D2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appeeney flies into a tackle on Alexander-Arnold and plants his right boot into his ankle. Amazingly, no booking. Alexander-Arnold is OK and picks out Mane with a diagonal lob from the right after a corner but the forward had drifted offside, making his back header that went wide immaterial. 

40 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                   

T2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围apphe injury and long delay for triage hs sapped the fizz out of the game. 

38 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                  

V2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appan Dijk strong-armed Deulofeu off the ball rather than shove him, taking a wide stance and using his right arm as a barrier. 

36 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                 

D2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appeulofeu leaves pulling on oxygen or gas and air as he is carried off. Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had a bad knee injury 22 months ago, gives him a pat as he is taken past him. 

34 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0                

Van Dijk is there with most of the Watford side, trying to console Deulofeu before he departs. Pereyra is ready to come on in his place. 

33 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0               

The stretcher is coming on for Deulofeu who is in agony.

31 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0              

Van Dijk seems to shove Deulofeu over outside the area and the winger twists his right knee. No foul given but the ref stops the game because Deulofeu shouts out in pain. 

30 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0             

W2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appatford have a three v four break with Doucoure on the ball 30 yards out but Deeney's lack of sizzling pace means Doucoure forces the pass too early and Lovren gets there first. 

27 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0            

Watford corner on the right after neat work from Sarr. Liverpool again defend it without risk or drama. While Watford have looked good in the channels either side of both full-backs, Liverpool have been rock solid down the middle. 

25 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0           

Deulofeu gets to the byline but can't keep his cross in play. 

21 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0          

Watford look very good indeed going forward and Klopp is scowling and gesticulating at his defenders.

Doucoure's shot is turned behind for a corner Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

 

19 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0         

Liverpool corner on the left. Robertson takes to the near post, Doucoure knocks it to the edge of the area. Oxlade-Chamberlain controls the clearance and hits an up and under to the right of the box. Van Dijk was best placed but also a mile offside so sensibly lest it go and Salah takes it on as it drops over his shoulder, belting a volley into the side netting. 

17 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0        

B2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appetter spell of possession from Liverpool, passing it around at the back, making Watford chase but when Lovren chips a long diagonal from right to left, looking for the space behidn Kiko, the diligent Sarr is on the cover and stops Mane getting a cross into the box. 

15 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0       

Watford are playing very well - they've clearly identified the gap between Alexander-Arnold and Lovren as Liverpool's Achilles heel. Deulofeu plays a one-two with Deeney, bombs down the left flank and zips over a daisycutter cross to Doucoure entering the box by the right of the D. He takes it on first time with his right instep, opting for precsiion rather than power, and the ball is turned behind for a corner which liverpool defend competently.  

Credit: ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/REX

 

13 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0      

Alexander-Arnold, so good going forward, doesn't force Deulofeu down the line and the former Everton winger once again cuts in on his right and flays a shot that skims the top of the net. A minute later Lovren gives the ball away and Deeney canters down the inside-left channel and, running out of steam with his pursuers catching up, squares it for Hughes but Wijnaldum just gets his toe to it first. 

11 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0     

Liverpool corner after A-A is found by Firmino's deft, headed flick down the right and his cross is blocked out and behind. The right-back takes the corner and Deeney meets it at the near post and heads it comfortably upfield. 

9 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0    

O2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appxlade-Chamberlain and Alexander-Arnold team up on the right, the full-back curling a left-foot pass into the box and then drifting out towards the corner flag for the return. Watford, though, are alive to the threat and squeeze him out of space, forcing him to poke his cross behind. 

7 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0   

Cathcart gets his foot to a bouncing ball into the Watford box and smashes it into Firmino's face whose nose turns purple and eyes flood with water. After giving his head a shake, he continues. 

5 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0  

W2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appatford are pressing hard and Deeney forces Alisson into a hurried shank when the ball is played back across the area by Robertson. Deulofeu receives a pass when Alisson's clearance is intercepted, gallops forward 20 yards, cuts in on to his right and scuds a low shot past Alisson's right post from 22 yards. 

3 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0 

Foster goes long with the ball at his feet, arrowing a 70-yard ball over Lovren for Deulofeu to chase. Alisson sprints out of his box to whack it to safety. Sweeper-keeper. 

1 min: Watford 0 Liverpool 0

Bit of a phoney war start as Watford delay taking a disputed throw-in. Eventually they take it, lose it and Firmino slaloms up the right but his pass to Mane is cut out and biffed forward.  

The teams are out

And have weathered the Z Cars onslaught. 

 

Jurgen Klopp reflects on that 3-0 defeat in 2015

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app"We had a Christmas party after that. I have no real memory of the game. The night was good, the game not so much."

H2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appow can you not admire his attitude? 

 

For those of you watching in black and white

Watford Foster; Kiko, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Hughes, Capoue; Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu; Deeney.
Substitutes Gomes, Dawson, Welbeck, Chalobah, Gray, Pussetto, Pereyra.

Credit: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutes Adrian, Minamino, Lallana, Origi, Matip, Jones, Hoever.

Referee2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

And two changes for Liverpool

 

Two changes for Watford

 

Good evening

L2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appiverpool will run out at Watford this afternoon to the familiar sound of Z Cars, a tune that has not preceded a defeat at Goodison for a decade and only once at the Vic in 33 years. That came five years ago shortly after Jürgen Klopp had succeeded Brendan Rodgers at Anfield and only one survivor from the side who were beaten 3-0 - Robert Firmino - is likely to be in the starting XI today. Victory would restore Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League to 25 points as they cakewalk to the title but a rare home win in this fixture, a possibility so remote bookies are offering 6-1 on them winning and a shade under 4-1 on the draw, would catapult Nigel Pearson’s ‘Orns above Aston Villa and to within striking distance of Bournemouth, West Ham and Brighton. 

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appTwo draws and three defeats in their past five games has stripped the gloss off Pearson’s fine start at Watford. Losing to Villa and Everton has cost them heavily but the price of entertainment, of trying to go out and beat teams rather than scratching around for draws, has been worth paying. They’re still in touch, have a coherent strategy and are decent to watch again. Expect them to have a go in an attempt to ruin Liverpool’s attempt to run up a record 19th successive PL victory, Klopp certainly does.

Credit: Adam Davy/PA

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app"You can't imagine with Norwich and West Ham playing against us, that they are bottom of the table,” Klopp said. "We have to be 100 per cent ready for these fights. That's what I love about my boys, when it's not clicking they don't lose desire, it is the other way. Watford will be really tough, 100 per cent. Very physical and everybody will see how much it means to them, so we have to make sure everybody can see how much it means to us as well."

P2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appearson, meanwhile, says: "We've got our own agenda and that is to save our own season and I think that is enough," he said about ending Liverpool’s surge. “For players to go into these games, if they can prove they are capable of playing against the best sides of the country, that is the motivation players need.

"But we have to win games for our own season, not necessarily to change history for another club. It's about our season, our own circumstances and if that's a spin-off from it, it is a spin-off from it."