Liverpool have struggled to break down their opponents in recent games, leading to a string of draws that have cut into their lead at the top of the Premier League. Bournemouth were the only team to really play into Liverpool’s hands in that period until yesterday’s thrashing of Watford.
In the absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jurgen Klopp’s side find it difficult to play through the middle, however this posed little problem against Watford, where they opened the scoring from a cross.
An aerial ball is sent up to Liverpool’s forwards, who hold it up and lay it off to James Milner.
Milner sends it out to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who gears up for a cross, while Liverpool’s forward trio line up along the Watford defensive line and are joined by Georginio Wijnaldum.
This immediately poses a problem for Watford as their backline is outnumbered. Left-back Adam Masina positions himself to cover the flanks, although this is unnecessary as Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure are covering Milner and Alexander-Arnold and no one is attempting to run through the inside channel.
Masina’s wide positioning forces Craig Cathcart across to stop Mohamed Salah however Sadio Mane makes a run through the middle. Cathcart is understandably reluctant to leave Salah but also doesn’t want to let Mane go free and ends up caught between the two, while Adrian Mariappa and Daryl Janmaat are busy with Wijnaldum and Divock Origi respectively.
Alexander-Arnold exploits this perfectly, landing his cross on the head of Mane to finish unopposed between the centre-backs. Cathcart has recognised the danger but the cross loops over his head, while Mariappa had been preoccupied with Wijnaldum and couldn’t get back in time to challenge Mane.