Premier League • England

Three players indispensable to Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool ravage Watford

Liverpool pair James Milner and Mohamed Salah celebrating after a goal versus Watford 2021

Liverpool returned to the summit of the Premier League table after dismantling Watford 5-0 at Vicarage Road, and TEAMtalk takes a look at three players who furthered their cases to become indispensable members of Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge of the Hornets always looked a difficult one on paper. Though even the most pessimistic of Watford fans might not have anticipated what they would see on Saturday afternoon.

For as woeful as the hosts were, Liverpool were outstanding in equal measure, and the tone was set within the first 10 minutes.

In the form of his life, Mohamed Salah shrugged off Danny Rose with ease before providing a mesmeric through ball to Sadio Mane. The pass was so good, in fact, that the Senegalese forward did not have to break stride when passing the ball beyond Ben Foster with a cool first-time finish.

The lead was doubled in the 37th minute when the evergreen James Milner burst into the box and received possession at the byline.

With options aplenty, Milner fizzed an accurate cut-back across the face of goal to gift Roberto Firmino a three-yard tap-in.

The smiling Brazilian notched his second of the contest soon after the break when showing a poacher’s instinct. But even he had to take a backseat to the brilliance of Mohamed Salah moments later.

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The Egyptian danced his way through Watford’s backline leaving three defenders in his wake. In trademark fashion, Salah curled a sublime effort into the far corner to make it 4-0.

Firmino registered his hattrick with the final kick of the game, and earned a place on our list of three players who are now indispensable to Klopp.

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James Milner

The phrase ‘a manager’s dream’ is often banded around in football. One look at Jurgen Klopp’s beaming smile whenever he speaks about Milner tells you it applies to the veteran midfielder at Anfield.

Liverpool arguably boast the league’s strongest starting eleven. It is their relative lack of depth compared to their title rivals where many believe they will fall short.

But players like Milner do the jobs of two or three men. He has played at right-back, left-back, either side of the midfield and today showed he can still contribute going forward.

His positioning and pick-out for Firmino’s first was reminiscent of David Silva and Sergio Aguero in their prime. It was a goal that looked all too easy to the naked eye, but in truth was only made so by the exquisite timing of Milner both in the run and execution of the pass to Firmino.

If Thiago had been fit or Fabinho available, Milner probably would not have started. Even Curtis Jones might’ve been given the nod if not absent through injury.

But Milner has never let Liverpool down and shows no signs of dipping in performance levels when drafted in to firefight in whichever position is in crisis.

While he is not indispensable to Klopp’s starting eleven, he once again showed today he is of vital importance to Liverpool’s squad.

Mohamed Salah

The Egyptian king did it again. When the nominees emerge for the October goal of the month award, Salah might hold half the entries.

The most impressive thing about Salah isn’t his goals return – which is better this season than in any of his previous Reds campaigns. It’s the fact that from first second to last, he is the most threatening player on the pitch.

Relentless, tenacious, a mentality monster as Klopp once famously said. Call it what you will, Salah is simply a defender’s worst nightmare. We suspect Danny Rose will say the same after today’s showing.

Labelling Salah as indispensable to Liverpool is about as obvious of a statement as they come. But the fact remains without him, Liverpool cannot and will not win the league.

He is in peak physical condition and the temptation will be there to play Salah every minute of every match. To beat the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City to the title, Liverpool may well have to take that gamble.

Roberto Firmino

Murmurings among the Liverpool faithful have suggested Firmino’s best days are behind him. His attacking returns last season were the lowest per 90m since his 2015 arrival.

The signing of Diogo Jota could have pushed Firmino towards the exit door. How often have we seen a once-undroppable star quickly fade into obscurity once the shiny new toy earns the manager’s favour?

But spending more time on the bench than he would’ve liked appears to have nudged Firmino the other way. He looks fresh, revitalised, and most importantly, potent.

Firmino showed a poacher’s instinct for his second goal today, reacting quicker than his marker to pounce on Ben Foster’s parry. His first goal also resulted from putting himself into a position to capitalise if the chips fell in his favour. Milner ensured they did on that occasion with laser-like precision.

No one would be surprised to see Jota return to the starting eleven against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. The Portuguese forward may have started today if not for a slight injury picked up on international duty.

But challenging on multiple fronts requires more than just a strong starting eleven. And with a fit and firing Firmino in the mix, Liverpool won’t lack for potency no matter which trio gets the nod from Jurgen Klopp.

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