As it happened: Five star performance from rampant Reds as league leaders put Hornets to the sword
(Getty Images - Anthony Devlin)

As it happened: Five star performance from rampant Reds as league leaders put Hornets to the sword

Live commentary of Liverpool's clash with Watford at Turf Moor on Wednesday evening (20:00 GMT), Joshua Kerr reports.

Joshua Kerr
liverpool-fcAlisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner (Henderson 70), Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Origi.
watford fcFoster, Cathcart, Mariappa, Masina, Janmaat, Doucoure, Capoue, Pererya, Hughes, Deeney, Deulofeu
SCORE1-0, Min.8, Mane, 2-0, Min.18, Mane, 3-0, Min.65, Origi, 4-0, Min.79, Van Dijk, 5-0, Min.82, Van Dijk
Klopp's Premier League leaders are firmly back to their fluent best with a ruthless demolition of the Hornets at Anfield. Mane's first-half double followed by Origi's strike and a late headed double from Van Dijk. It was a stunning performance from Liverpool. Watford were never in this, Klopp's players were full of energy from start to finish and their attacking guile was back to it's best. That's the kind of win the Reds needed.
90' Three minutes added time here at Anfield. Surely there are no more goals tonight? But then again what do I know.......
87' Adam Lallana and Naby Keita are both now been introduced for Liverpool for the closing stages.

This has been an utterly dominant performance from the Reds - and it's a timely return to winning ways as the goal difference between them and City has been reduced to six goals.

84' Trent Alexander-Arnold has been utterly sensational tonight. The local-lad has three assists tonight and his attacking inter-play has been a work of art.

The visitors have been a mirror image to the side that was so rampant in south-Wales. The Hornets scored five against Cardiff but tonight are on the back of a five-star showing from the Reds. 

82' It's turning into a massacre now for the jubilant hosts. Van Dijk - who has lacked goals since his world-record move - gets another one, staying up after a free-kick from the exact same position Liverpool just scored from, Robertson lobs in from the opposite wing in the second phase and the towering Dutchman leaps above his man again to head into the ground like he's a potent Alan Shearer in his prime. Watford have been put to the sword here at Anfield tonight. 
79' It's raining goals here at Anfield and Virgil van Dijk is the latest to join the scoresheet. And that's 4-0 to the league leaders. Man City might have control of their match but Liverpool are taking their chances and are cutting the two teams goal difference deficit. 

This time it's more routine for the hosts after a free-kick from wide right is curled into the area and Van Dijk is perfectly placed to meet it with his head and pump the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net. It's the Dutchman's first Anfield goal since he netted in the FA Cup against Everton on his club debut back in January 2018.

75' It's now the visitors turn to make a change.

It's a double switch as Andre Gray and Tom Cleverley come on.

Moments later Gray looks to test Alisson - who has been a bystander all evening - after breaking into the penalty area.

70' Deeney tries one from distance but comes to virtually no effect. It was a hopeful hit but ballooned over.

Meanwhile, vice-captain James Milner has been removed from the affair and has been replaced by the Reds club-skipper Jordan Henderson. 3-0. 

65' There is another goal here at Anfield, and yes it is of course for the hosts. Liverpool make it three and Origi rewards Klopp's faith in the Belgian by getting in on the scoresheet. 

Origi came in from the left, lured defenders towards him and shifted all his balance onto his right foot with a brilliant showcase in the art of finishing. The shot didn't even look on but Origi stroked across the ball and thundered it into the bottom corner. An utterly Brilliant finish.

Mane almost has a hat-trick
Mane nearly has the match ball. Origi moves out to the left, crosses in low from the edge of the box to the his Senegalese winger, who controls, spins and shoots to win a corner. Still 2-0 Liverpool.
60' Meanwhile, news just in from the Etihad. As expected there is a goal for the champions. Sergio Aguero steps up for a spot-kick and Manchester City have the lead. Liverpool's lead at the top is now back down to one point. Alas.
Watford showing more intnet
54' Deulofeu was sent on his bike after being allowed to break and caught light as he broke away at breakneck speed past everyone down the left channel towards the box. He comes face to face with Matip who uses his body to block the run and clear the imminent danger. 

51' Watford have only so far managed one shot at the Liverpool goal. Alisson was outstanding at Old Trafford but tonight has barely had to contribute. 
Salah close!
50' Salah is been allowed too much space on that right-hand side. Again, he's able to dribble in from the right, going past the defence like a schoolyard bully and has a chance to shoot at Foster from inside the area but can only hit the post. Another let-off for the visitors.
49' The Reds are now facing the Kop and are looking for more breathing space with a third goal. Trent Alexander-Arnold was outstanding in the first half but over-cooked a cross after some impressive interchanges with Mo Salah, whose performance is only missing one thing so far - a goal!
Back underway
45' We're back underway here at Anfield.
The hosts have been utterly mesmerising at times here at Anfield tonight. An excellent response to the disappointing display at Old Trafford and a great performance from Klopp's side so far, Watford aren't doing anywhere near enough defensively and keep letting Liverpool players run past them. Gracia has work to do during the break to get his team back into it, if he even can. One-way traffic at Anfield. Impressive response from the PL leaders to that dour draw at against United. Mane with a classy double and the scoreline flatters the visitors. Should be 3 or 4.
43' I don't quite believe it. There has just been a chance for Watford.

Gerard Deulofeu creates an opening after spotting the run of Hornets skipper Troy Deeney in front of the Kop but the striker can only poke it wide from inside the six-yard area. 

39' The Reds are looking to run riot here at Anfield and came agonisingly close to a third after a superb passage of play. Mo Salah is denied a goal by the woodwork after getting the better (not for the first time) of Craig Cathcart before Milner later forces a save from Foster.

More solo dribbling from the Reds magician and he's poking holes and exploiting traps in the Watford defence like someone popping balloons at your kids birthday. Mane can't quite reach the rebound in time. But the hosts keep it up and Milner dribbles inside from the right this time but again the ball doesn't land with Mane. Watford need to fix their left side - it keeps paying out for Liverpool.

36' The tempo of proceedings has begun to calm down. The Reds have temporarily put the handbrake on and are controlling the early exchanges. 

Salah seems particularly determined to make things happen tonight and has been the shadow of the figure that flopped at Old Trafford. The Egyptian has been standing basically on the touchline waiting for the ball, then running with it. Watford look to have shortened the distance between the midfield four and defensive four to close the space but so far it has proved inefficient. 

29' Trent Alexander-Arnold has been a breath of fresh air in that right-back position. The Englishman looks like a player with a point determined to prove a point after being left out against at Old Trafford.

He's been excellent and the visitors are struggling to contain his every waking move. Still 2-0.

28' Salah tries his luck from 25-yards. He fancies himself and you know the old cliche - if you don't buy a ticket, you don't win the raffle. Salah didn't win, in fact, he didn't even come close. Foster collects effortless for an easy save.
23' It feels like the Reds have more players on the pitch. Watford look utterly outnumbered and Liverpool are dominating every aspect of the first half. And the right flank is like that one person who constantly has the same Spotify playlist on repeat. You know what you are going to get but Watford are unable to identify an obvious fix.
20' It's the Mane show here on Merseyside tonight. The Senegalese ace now has 14 Premier League goals this season and he's on a hat-trick with more than 65 minutes to play.
18' Salah with his blistering pace runs away down the right, shuffles into the area and is outnumbered by imminent Hornet defenders but Watford look bemused and have completely lost their shape. A cross is sent low into the area for Mane who jerks at the ball and mishits before having the audacity to then back-heel the follow up in. 2-0 Liverpool!
18' It's two and you guessed it, it's only that man again Sadio Mane! Liverpool have a second and Watford are being torn apart here at Anfield.
17' Penalty claim! Deulofeu is begging for a spot-kick but instead has just won the award for clown of the evening with most pathetic dive attempt. The forward runs into the area and is tracked to the line by Andy Robertson. He tries to shield the ball, then feels a nudge on his back before flopping towards the ground howling and holding his shinpad. Graham Scott is having none of it. Rightly so. 
No Firmino, no problem.

If the Brazilian won't get one then you can bet your life one of the other front-three will be there ready. That's Mane's fifth goal in six Premier League games.

8' It's a stunning header from Sadio Mane! Milner links with his countryman Alexander-Arnold, who whips a superb cross into the six-yard area and finds Mane who is perfectly placed to smash in the header into the far corner. Great goal. The perfect start! 1-0 Liverpool.
8' Liverpool are awarded a free-kick wide right, Milner stands over it, whilst Salah stands there with his sleeves over his hands like looking very agitated. The ball is crossed to the back post but is cleared. 
7' Divock Origi is starting out on the left while Sadio Mane is playing down the middle.

James Milner receives a round of applause from the Anfield faithful. The Reds skipper charges down a clearance from Ben Foster and the Watford keeper is grateful to grab the ball before an imminent threat arises. 

5' Watford have begun very patiently, Liverpool not yet able to stretch their legs and run at them. 
We are underway at Anfield!
Klopp on Origi selection
“It makes sense. Div deserves it, like all the others we could have chosen would have deserved it because the training attitude is brilliant. “It’s not good that Bobby isn’t available, but it’s always nice to give somebody else the next chance."
Full Team News
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Origi.

Subs: Subs: Mignolet, Keita, Henderson, Sturridge, Lallana, Shaqiri, Camacho.

Watford: Foster, Cathcart, Mariappa, Masina, Janmaat, Doucoure, Capoue, Pererya, Hughes, Deeney, Deulofeu.

Subs: Gomes, Cleverly, Sama, Gray, Quina, Narvario, Kabasele

Watford Team News
As expected, Gracia has named an unchanged team to the one that put Cardiff City to the sword in south-Wales during the Hornet's emphatic 5-1 victory.
Liverpool Team News
The team news is in and Liverpool have made two changes to the side that drew at Old Trafford. The most notable alteration from Klopp is to opt-in Divock Origi in the absence of Firmino who was expected to miss the match. The Belgian striker has been given the nod over both Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge to operate as the Reds attacking focal point. James Milner comes into his usual midfield duties for Jordan Henderson whilst Trent-Alexander returns at right-back.
Gracia quotes
Watford manager Javi Gracia is setting no targets on the possibilities surrounding the heights this Hornets side can reach when they face a daunting trip to the divisions current pace-makers.

A 5-1 massacre over in south-Wales moved the Hertfordshire side into seventh and bolstered their hopes of playing European football next season.

However, the Spaniard is refusing to get carried away and insists no matter what the squad achieve by the end of the season he is already beyond proud of his team's current outstanding achievements.

"If we are in seventh it is because many people, the players mainly, have worked very hard for a long-time," insisted Gracia.

"At the end of the season we will see what we are able to achieve but at the moment the fans are proud of these players and the work they are doing.

"Whether we finish seventh, eighth, or any other position it doesn't change my feeling about this squad - we are a good squad, competing well."

The trip to Anfield begins a tough run of fixtures, with Watford facing Brendan Rodger's Leicester City,  The Citizens and Ole Gunnar Solskaer's rejuvenated Red Devils in the Premier League as well as their all-important FA Cup quarter-final clash against Palace.

In all of those corresponding league fixtures the Hornets failed to pick up a single point - something Gracia is well aware of but not too worried about.

"For us we are playing in two competitions, the Premier League and FA Cup and we want to win every game," Gracia said.

"There are 11 games left and we are going to compete against some very good teams.

"It's difficult for us to get good results against these teams and maybe we won't get any points in the next four games but then win the rest of them.

"The main thing is trying to compete game-by-game and being focused on trying to get three points.

"That is our only focus but at the moment the team is in a good place with confidence to compete with any team in the league."

Klopp quotes
Liverpool's German manager has played down talks of his players feeling the pressure this season after stating this campaign's title challenge will in-fact be the first of many challenges and that his team deserve more credit following their efforts to land the Reds top of the pile with only 11 games to play.

The 51-year-old manager believes his team’s recent performances have been unfairly compared with those of other title contenders and that the team's apparent desperation for the league stems from the club's inability to win an the domestic division since 1990 - 29 years ago.

“No plant grows as quick as expectations here,” said Klopp, whose team only hold a slender one-point lead over champions City going into Wednesday’s home game against the Hornets.

Three of the Reds last four league games have ended in stalemates and Klopp couldn't help in failing to hide his frustration. However, the two-time former Bundesliga winning coach believes the experience of a title battle will only benefit everyone at Anfield regardless of how the campaign finishes.

“Obviously a lot of Liverpool teams before us tried to be champion and it didn’t work out so it was always the manager or the team or other stuff like that,” Klopp said. “There is always a moment when, if we are not 25 points ahead, a season gets tricky. Always. Leicester had that. Chelsea had it. Only City last year didn’t really have it. Winning 5-0 against us with 10 men [when Sadio Mané was sent off at 1-0] changed the season for them. Apart from that it always happens.

“One generation has to break through, to make it happen, and then for the rest it will be easier. It would be nice if we could be that. The development of this team is unbelievable. Not that I praise myself or whatever, but it is unbelievable. We played three finals. I know in the world outside it looks like finals are nice, all perfect, then you don’t win and nobody thinks about it, but I don’t know a lot of teams that have been in three finals in the last three years. We improve constantly in the table.

“We are in a good moment. I cannot help if you don’t see it. We know about our responsibility and we go for it with all we have. This is not our last chance – that’s a very important thing. This is our first chance. There’s a massive difference. With the first chance, you jump in, then see if it works out. Sometimes it does, sometimes not. This will not be our last chance, 100% not.”

Klopp maintained he is “happy with a lot of moments” in this calendar year despite only winning four of their eight league matches in 2019 and placed the scrutiny on Liverpool is more intense than that on their title rivals. He added: “It’s like you get an eye problem when you have to watch our football now compared to when we played such wonderful football a few weeks ago. Sorry for that disappointment. It is the job to do.

“Do other teams perform constantly? They don’t. Sometimes they have the result but we don’t look at them in detail, we just see they are winning. You only have this obsessed look on our football. Yes, there were moments when I wish we would fly a bit more but you don’t fly because you want to fly. You fly because you work for it.

“I know I didn’t look like I enjoyed the second half at United but that’s how it is – it’s hard work. If the mood drops a little I understand it is my job to kick a few asses. Then after the game it’s over and we go again. Why is it such a problem for us to win 1-0? When we win 1-0 we have to explain why we don’t fly or score like last year. If we draw we have to explain why we don’t win 1-0. Something is always wrong and that is a bit of a problem, not for us internally, but that makes things not easy to enjoy sometimes.”


Some tasty stats!
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last six league meetings with Watford (W5 D1), scoring 20 goals and holding firm with an impressive four clean sheets in that run.

Watford have an utterly abysmal record on Merseyside having lost 10 of their 11 last top-flight away games against the Reds, with the only exception being a 1-0 victory in their first ever Premier League game at Anfield in August 1999.

Only against Arsenal (15) have Liverpool scored more Premier League goals at Anfield than they have against Watford (13) under Klopp.

The Hornets have lost their last 11 away Premier League games against 'big six' teams since beating the Gunners at the Emirates back in January 2017.

Liverpool have scored at least five goals in their last two home Premier League games against Watford (6-1, 5-0); the last top-flight team to do so against an opponent in three consecutive seasons back-to-back was over 60 years ago with Man City against Chelsea between 1956-57 and 1958-59.

Watford's Gerard Deulofeu became the first ever Hornets player to score a top-flight hat-trick since Mark Falco in 1986 in their 5-1 victory at Cardiff City.

Liverpool's front three have all been directly involved in more than five goals each for the Reds in Premier League meetings with Watford - Salah has a remarkable six goals and one assist in three games, Sadio Mane has three goals and three assists in four games, and  Firmino has five goals and three assists in seven games.

Team News
Both teams unsurprisingly have setbacks of their own with the host's seeming more serious with Roberto Firmino a doubt for Wednesday's clash despite not being ruled out yet by his manager.

The Brazilian international limped off in the first half of Sunday's goalless draw at Manchester United after rolling his right ankle and - while the injury is not as serious as first feared - he appears unlikely to feature at Anfield.

Midfielder Naby Keita has recovered from an illness that kept him out of the clash with the Red Devils and returned to training on Tuesday. Dejan Lovren, however, is still not ready for a return.

Gracia is likely to stick with the team that humbled Cardiff in their own back yard last Friday, with only Kiko Femenia missing out. The full-back has returned to training following a hamstring injury but the trip to Merseyside could represent too soon for Spanish defender.

No margin for error
With Pep Guardiola's champions firmly on the heels of Liverpool, the Reds must halter on of the in-form teams in England with Klopp's side having no room for manoeuvre in the title race.

Talk of nerves for Liverpool may be premature, but the league leaders have dropped more points in there last four league matches then they had for the first half of the season combined.

Their latest instalment standing in the way of the club's already illustrious title credentials are of course Watford who are fresh from their 5-1 victory at Cardiff - their second-best top-flight away win ever having lost only once - a late defeat at Spurs - since Boxing Day.

Liverpool's home form has been virtually impenetrable in recent months, and bar a slip up at Leicester, only Manchester City have left Anfield this season with something to show for their efforts while the Hornets last two trips to the ground have been painful and the stuff of nightmares, ending ugly and on the wrong end of 6-1 and 5-1 defeats in the last two seasons.

The Reds are also still the only team in the league still undefeated at home this season, with their last home loss coming back in April 2017 to Crystal Palace - 675 days ago!

The reverse fixture in December was a springboard for Liverpool to go onto eight consecutive league victories following Klopp's triumph at Vicarage Road. 

The Reds cruised to an emphatic 3-0 win courtesy of goals from Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino as well as sending off for Jordan Henderson saw Liverpool take the points back in 2018. 

Klopp and his players could do with similar fortunes in the north-west come Wednesday night and will hope to register only their second league victory in their last five Premier League matches. 

Outstanding Watford
Watford - alongside Wolves - have been the Premier League's surprise package this season with the Hornets currently the best team in the division - outside the 'big-six' - with the club, only a point off their points total for the entirety of last-season which would remark at this stage of the campaign a truly fabulous achievement. 

Gracia's team are currently sat in seventh - joint on 40 points with Wolves but with a game in hand - with the club hoping to extend their lead in a potential Europa League position to three points with a potentially famous win at Anfield - their first since 1999 almost 20 years ago.

The Hertfordshire based club are on course for their best ever Premier League finish are currently unbeaten in their previous four competitive matches. Watford have already produced some famous giant-killing performances this season - most notably against fellow title-challengers Tottenham when the Hornet's won 2-1 at Vicarage Road back in September. 

Watford have also only lost one of their previous 11 fixtures in all competitions with the club sitting pretty in the league and the prospects of a potential FA Cup semi-final at Wembley with the Hornets awaiting a day of destiny in the quarter-finals vs Crystal Palace in March.

If there was a team that Liverpool couldn't afford to be complacent with currently then Watford fall into that category and if the Reds aren't at their devastating best then an upset could appear firmly on the cards.

Must win for Liverpool
It's another pivotal fixture in the race for Premier League glory with the league's table-toppers hosting a potentially dangerous opponent in the form of Watford and the outstanding work of Javi Gracia. The Reds may be the division's current front-runners but the league table doesn't necessarily paint the whole picture in terms of who has the momentum in this title race. 

Liverpool have been on the back of two consecutive 0-0 draws - against Bayern Munich and Manchester United respectively - with Jurgen Klopp's team missing their attacking fluidity and flair in recent matches as the gap at the top has been closed down to only one point.

To put that into perspective, the Reds had to chance to open up a 10 point gap just over a month ago when they travelled to the Etihad Stadium but have since their lead reduced massivly following Liverpool's dropping of points in 2019. 

The Merseysiders have only picked up 12 points from a possible 24 with momentum seeming to have switched in the favour of champions Manchester City who have captured 18 points from a potential 21 and have scored 54 goals since the turn of the new year - 51 more than Huddersfield Town!!!!!!!!!!! - with Liverpool having to win on Wednesday night under the assumption that this ruthless City force will not likely slip up against West Ham United. 




Hello and Welcome!
Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live commentary of another Premier League instalment as league leaders Liverpool look to return to winning ways when they host Watford at Anfield on Wednesday night with all the action live from Merseyside. I am Joshua Kerr and I will be taking you through all of the build-up.