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Liverpool go 11 points clear with much-improved Watford left to rue missed chances

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Liverpool vs Watford

Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off saw Liverpool playing host to Watford.

The Reds began the day with a commanding eight-point lead atop of the Premier League.

That lead could have, temporarily at least, been extended to 11 points with a win over the Hornets.

2nd place Leicester City are also in action on Saturday, playing at home to relegation-battling Norwich in a 3 pm kick-off.

Meanwhile, Watford kicked off at Anfield sat dead bottom of the league.

Watford had amassed just nine points in their opening 16 PL ties and were the lowest scorers in the league with just nine goals in 16 outings.

The Liverpool tie was Nigel Pearson’s first game at the helm for Watford.

The teams

Liverpool’s starting line-up was fairly strong but Jurgen Klopp did make a few changes.

James Milner started at left-back in place of Andy Robertson and Xherdan Shaqiri was handed a rare start in midfield.

As for Watford, they made two changes from their last outing.

Salah breaks Watford’s resistance

Watford had a big chance to take the lead with just five minutes on the clock as Ismaila Sarr whipped a good ball into Troy Deeney who was unable to connect with it.

Christian Kabasele had a particularly bright start for Watford with the central defender making some solid tackles in the opening exchanges.

And the opening 20 minutes produced very few clear-cut chances for the Merseyside powerhouse with a resilient Watford defending well and keeping the pace of the tie very slow.

Watford had another great chance with 36 minutes played as Abdoulaye Doucoure found himself free in the Liverpool box but the midfielder scuffed his shot.

Straight after that big Watford chance, Liverpool produced a great counterattack, which culminated in Mohamed Salah curling in his effort to put the European champions 1-0 up.

Liverpool’s first goal of the day was also the first shot on target by either side, showing just what a tight affair it had been.

Nigel Pearson will have largely been pleased with his side’s efforts in the opening 45. But the former Leicester boss will probably have been fuming with his team’s poor finishing.

The relegation-battling outfit had another massive chance just before the interval but this time it would be Sarr who scuffed his effort when he was unmarked in the Liverpool box.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 14: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates scoring his teams first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield on December 14, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Liverpool go 11 points clear

The second half would produce a much more lively start than the opening 45.

Watford had the first big chance of the second half 48 minutes in with Alisson being forced to produce a decent save from another Sarr effort.

Liverpool came close to doubling their lead shortly after said chance.

Shaqiri whipped in an inviting cross to Sadio Mane who headed home but the goal was adjudged to have been offside by VAR, although it did look extremely close.

Gerard Deulofeu then found himself one on one with Allison in the 53rd minute with the Brazilian producing another solid save.

As the game wore on Liverpool found themselves afforded more openings with both Salah and Roberto Firmino having efforts on goal.

Virgil van Dijk nearly equalised for Watford though as the Dutchman played a carless ball back to Alisson who was out of his goal and nowhere near VVD’s pass.

But despite a largely promising display from Watford, Liverpool killed the game off with less than two minutes of normal time to play.

The Egyptian flicked in a miscued Divock Origi shot.

Overall, Watford’s display was very positive but if they are to produce a great escape, they really need to be a lot more clinical in front of goal.

Although to be fair to Watford, they won’t be up against Alisson every weekend.

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