Premier League 2017/18: Watford 3-3 Liverpool, Player Ratings
Liverpool travelled to Vicarage Road to take on Watford and the two sides put on an entertaining contest in their opener. The hosts took the lead twice before a second half penalty allowed Liverpool to claw their way back.
A debut Liverpool goal from Mohamed Salah then saw the Reds take the lead but Miguel Britos scored a somewhat controversial injury time equaliser for the Hornets as the two teams shared the spoils in what was a topsy-turvy and goal-laden encounter.
Here’s a look at who hit the ground running and who failed in this all important season opener.
Heurelho Gomes- 3/10
Brought down Salah in the box to give away a penalty kick that allowed Liverpool to come back into the match and if not for a late late Miguel Britos strike, would have surely cost Watford all three points.
Daryl Janmaat- 5/10
The Dutchman looked assured at right back and was coping well with the threat of Mane until he picked up a niggle in the 15th minute and had to be replaced by new signing Kiko Fermenia
Miguel Britos- 7/10
The first of the two Watford centre backs, Britos looked a little suspect in defence, especially in playing out the long balls to the Watford forwards with passes going out or falling onto the path of opposition players one too many times. However, he was at the right place at the right time to tap in Watford’s equaliser and salvage a draw for the Hornets at home; his first goal for the club too!
Younes Kaboul- 6/10
Easily Watford's defensive leader, Kaboul looked assured in defence although dealing with Mane and Firmino’s trickery did prove to be a tad too difficult at times. Picked up a knock late in the match but had to carry on valiantly as Watford had used up all their substitutions.
Jose Holebas- 7/10
One of the brighter sparks in the Watford side, Holebas has a good solid game at left back; more so in attack than in defence. Provided the assist for the opening goal of the match through a corner kick and was also reasonably successful in keeping Salah quite on the right hand side for the majority of the match.
Could not impress in his left midfielder role as he didn’t contribute much in attack or defence. His performance in this game can best be described as nondescript.
Tom Cleverly- 7/10
The ex-Manchester United man looked very good in patches, especially in the first half and in the attacking third of the pitch. Cleverly was instrumental in setting up the second Watford goal as it was his cross which was eventually bundled into Simon Mignolet’s goal.
Abdoulaye Doucoure- 7/10
The Frenchman was on target as he scored the second Watford goal after a mistake from the Liverpool rear-guard to put the hosts 2-1 up in the first half. Doucoure had a decent outing as he also showed some spark in the latter stages of the second half.
Nordin Amrabat- 6/10
Amrabat worked hard throughout the match and offered solid impetus going forward but came up against a spirited Alberto Moreno and Watford’s direct game plan meant he wasn’t often required to deliver the inch perfect cross from outside the box.
Stefano Okaka: 8/10
The recently capped Italian international was really the stand out player of the match for Watford. His strong style of play was especially impressive as he held off the Liverpool midfielders and defenders with ease in the first half. Also scored the opening goal for Watford with a wonderful header off a Holebas corner after he had lost himself off his marker.
Roberto Pereyra- 4/10
Had one good chance to put Watford ahead early on in the match but his effort was well blocked by Dejan Lovren. Did precious little of note otherwise until he limped off in the 49th minute with an injury and was replaced by Richarlison.
Kiko Fermenia (On for Daryl Janmaat-18’)- 5/10
A decent debut for the Spaniard as he came on in the 18th minute for Daryl Janmaat and played most of the game. However, there were no stand out moments for the left back signed from Alaves.
Richarlison (On for Roberto Pereyra- 49’)- 7/10
The Brazilian, one of two big money signings for Watford this season, came on in the 49th minute to replace Roberto Pereyra. There was plenty of commitment on the part of the striker and it was his tenacity that set up the third and final goal for Watford.
Andre Gray (On for Stefano Okaka- 63’)-4/10
Watford’s costliest signing ever came on for their goal-scorer Okaka and was expected to cause an immediate impact of sorts. However, that was not to be and the offensive player could not give too much of an impression of himself with what little time was afforded to him.
Simon Mignolet- 6/10
Liverpool's No. 1 couldn’t do a whole lot about the goals his side conceded but was found lacking with regards to his ball distribution which resulted in more than a few misdirected sprays from the Liverpool goalmouth. It was an average game at the very best for the Belgian custodian.
Trent Alexander-Arnold- 4/10
An injury to Nathaniel Clyne meant that Alexander-Arnold started for Liverpool at right back. It was however, a disappointing performance from the youngster he looked suspect in defence (was culpable for allowing Watford’s second goal) and could not offer a whole lot in attack. The Liverpool academy graduate also picked up a yellow card in the 61st minute for his troubles.
Joel Matip- 5/10
Liverpool’s defence collectively had a game to forget and Matip individually was no different. Along with Alexander-Arnold, the Cameroonian was found wanting in Watford’s second goal. He did however offer some attacking prowess from corners and displayed good play build-up skills.
Dejan Lovren- 6/10
Lovren looked the more solid of the two Liverpool centre backs and also displayed good attacking ability from set pieces. The Croatian also played a wonderful ball, something unexpected of a big centre half, to set up Firmino’s assist for Liverpool’s third goal.
Alberto Moreno- 6.5/10
The diminutive Spaniard did well considering he spent the majority of the last season on the sidelines. Starting at left back, Moreno linked up well with the likes of Mane, Can and Firmino to set up Liverpool’s attacks and especially had a big part to play in Mane’s goal. He had a half decent shy at goal too which was tipped over the bar by Watford goalkeeper Gomes. Although he has been known to be suspect defensively, Moreno was certainly on top of his game yesterday.
Jordan Henderson- 5/10
The Liverpool captain was the least impressive of the Reds' three midfielders yesterday and couldn't offer much, either in the form of solidity at the back or flair while going forward.
Emre Can- 7/10
The young German was the best player at the centre of the pitch, regardless of the team in question. Having really gelled with the current Liverpool crop over the past couple of seasons, Can linked up very well with the attacking third of the Reds’ squad and his touch to set up Mane’s opener was just magical.
Georginio Wijnaldum- 6/10
The Dutch midfielder has always been a relentless workhorse and this game was no different in spite of nursing a tight hamstring in the second half. Unfortunately, Gini lacked the decisive factor as he spurned a glorious chance to score Liverpool’s fourth and put the game to bed. He should have cleared the corner that led to the equaliser in injury time as well.
Mohamed Salah- 7/10
Liverpool's big buy this summer was largely invisible in the first half and wasted the one golden opportunity that offered itself. However, he really did come into his own in the second half and was in many ways the game changer. Salah earned a spot kick off Watford keeper Gomes to start the Liverpool comeback and then scored one give his side the lead. A solid Liverpool debut for the Egyptian.
Roberto Firmino- 7/10
Firmino had a similar story to his attacking partner, Salah. Like the Egyptian, Firmino too didn’t offer anything of substance in the first half but truly got into the game in the second. Scored the penalty kick for Liverpool’s equaliser and then set up Salah for the team’s third.
Sadio Mane- 8/10
So many times the go to man for Liverpool last season, Mane was once again the most assured of the Liverpool forward line, regularly troubling the Watford defence. Started and finished the play for Liverpool’s first goal.
Divock Origi (On for Roberto Firmino-81’)- 4/10
Belgian youngster and quite often Klopp's go to substitute, Divock Origi came on for Roberto Firmino in the eighty first minute but failed to do anything of note.
James Milner (On for Salah-86’)- 4/10
Liverpool's utility man replaced Salah late on to shore up the Liverpool defence but the move didn’t pay off as Watford scored a late goal to even the tie.
Joe Gomez (On for Alexander-Arnold-91’)- 3/10
Another of Liverpool's young prospects, Gomez came on for Alexander-Arnold in extra time and did not have much time to prove himself. However, one may argue that it was his foul on Richarlison that triggered the chain of events leading to Watford’s third goal.