Watford earn a point in 3-3 thriller as Liverpool again regret defensive weaknesses

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Watford earn a point in 3-3 thriller as Liverpool again regret defensive weaknesses
(Picture: Getty Images - Richard Heathcote)
Watford: (4-2-3-1) Gomes; Janmaat (Femenia, min. 18), Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Chalobah, Doucouré; Amrabat, Cleverley, Pereyra (Richarlison, min. 49); Okaka (Gray, min. 63).
Liverpool: (4-3-3) Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold (Gomez, min. 90+1), Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Salah (Milner, min. 86), Firmino (Origi, min. 81), Mané.
SCORE: 1-0, min. 8, Okaka. 1-1, min. 29, Mané. 2-1, min. 32, Doucouré. 2-2, Firmino (pen), min. 55. 2-3, min. 57, Salah. 3-3, min. 90+4, Britos.
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor (ENG). Yellows: Mané, Alexander-Arnold, Mignolet.
INCIDENTS: Opening 2017-18 Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road.
Watford
3 3
Liverpool

14:30. What a game. 13 goals from two games so far. Welcome back to the Premier League! Liverpool looked as though they had that game wrapped up after a strong start to the second-half. Having twice fallen behind in the first-half, the Reds made it 3-2 with two goals in three minutes before the hour mark. But their defence - which was at fault for all three of their goals - haunted them again in the 94th minute. Only a point each for Watford and Liverpool after a thriller at Vicarage Road. Thanks for joining us, we'll have more analysis and opinion - from the perspectives of both clubs - later today. Until then, you can follow all the 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League and abroad with Oliver Emmerson right here. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

FT: Watford 3-3 Liverpool.

90+7' Was he offside? He might have been, although the ball was played backwards to Britos. Even if he was off, Liverpool don't have too much right to complain given how badly they defended that set-piece. 

90+6' Almost! Richarlison meets Amrabat's cross and heads just wide. He's down on the floor with a bloody cut for his troubles.

90+5' Another corner, another Watford goal. Wijnaldum fails to deal with the delivery at the near post and Richarlison fires towards Mignolet, who pushes the shot off the underside of the bar and Britos is on hand to head in from close-range. Watford earn a late point.

90+4' GOAAAAALLL!!!! Watford equalise and it's 3-3.

90+3' CLOSE! Holebas whips in a free-kick which Kaboul rises to, but Mignolet rises to punch clear. Watford keep possession and find Britos on the edge of the box, the defender turning to fire towards the far corner and Mignolet pushes the shot wide for a corner.

90+1' Third and final change for Liverpool as Alexander-Arnold is replaced by Joe Gomez, making his first Premier League appearance in two years.

90' Five minutes added on! Enough time for Watford to muster a late equaliser? 

88' Holebas does well to thwart Mané after Mignolet picks up a cheap yellow card for time-wasting. 

85' Good chance to make it 4-2, there. Salah finds Mané down the left and he squares to Wijnaldum on the edge of the box but he side-foots well, well wide. Meanwhile, Milner will replace Salah. So neither Moreno or a midfielder then.

84' James Milner readied for Liverpool as Klopp looks to see out these final few minutes for another dramatic opening win. Moreno to come off? Or will Milner move into midfield?

82' Gomes does excellently to come off his line and meet Can's pass in search of Salah - who had burst beyond Holebas and would have been one-on-one with the 'keeper had he been first to the ball.

81' What a stat that is. Are we set for more goals in the final minutes at Vicarage Road? 

80' Well, maybe they do need to make a sub then... Origi replaces goalscorer Firmino to give Liverpool more of a focal point up top.

79' Kaboul looks to have damaged his hamstring but with Watford out of subs, he's taped up and thrown back on. Whether that proves more damaging to the defender in the long-term, we'll have to find out.

78' Liverpool yet to make a change but at this stage they don't need to. They look susceptible defensively but will hope Watford continue to attack with numbers so that they can counter with pace and look for a surely decisive fourth goal.

76' Watford really ramping up the pressure now and committing men forward to try and get at Liverpool, but the Reds' pace on the counter-attack is a real threat. Mané slips in Salah down the right but he fires into the side-netting. We're in for an exciting finale. 

74' Almost another defensive disaster for Liverpool. Doucouré fires a high ball into the box and Mignolet clearly calls for Lovren to leave it but a mix-up between the two sees the 'keeper drop the ball only to recover before a Watford player can react.

72' Great tempo to this game as Liverpool go in search of a killer fourth. Moreno drives forward and clips across to Salah down the right, but his left-footed half-volley whistles just over the bar from 20 yards out.

70' Alexander-Arnold tries to whip a ball over towards the far post, which is flicked out for a corner. He comes over to take the corner in front of the away supporters and from his outswinger, Lovren forces a good save from Gomes but no-one is on hand for the rebound.

69' Holebas takes but Firmino heads clear and Alexander-Arnold rids Liverpool of the danger with Amrabat lining up a shot. Can then does excellently to rampage down the left and win Liverpool a free-kick from Kaboul, easing some pressure.

68' Holebas manages to keep the ball away from Salah and Alexander-Arnold to win a free-kick a few yards inside the corner flag. Good chance for Watford to test Liverpool in the air again.

66' This has been another frankly ridiculous game of football after last night's offering. Matip does excellently to come across and prevent Gray from running through on goal. There's still plenty of drama left in this game...

65' OFF THE BAR! Liverpool so close to making it 4-2 as Matip crashes a backwards header off the crossbar from Alexander-Arnold's corner.

64' Gomes is forced to tip Moreno's left-footed effort just over his crossbar after the Spaniard beats Kiko to get a dipping shot away.

62' Another debutant comes on with Andre Gray replacing Okaka. That's Watford's third and final sub - but can it help swing the game back in their favour?

58' What a turnaround! Salah gets a goal on his second PL debut! Firmino is played over the top and attempts to lob Gomes but Salah is on hand to ensure the ball was definitely going in. 3-2.

58' GOOOOOAAAAAAL! What is going on?! Liverpool lead 3-2, Salah with the goal on his debut!

Correct decision regarding the penalty. Salah clearly caught by Gomes when going away from goal.

55' GOOOOAAAAL! Firmino coolly slots his penalty away, sending Gomes the wrong way. All square!

55' PENALTY! Liverpool have a penalty, as Gomes takes down Salah in the area.

53' Amrabat gives the ball away needlessly and Mane is there to steal it but fires a overhit cross out for a goal kick. A bit more composure and Liverpool could be on level terms.

50' Richarlison almost has his first goal, seconds after coming on. The Brazilian is played through on goal, rounds Mignolet but the flag was up. Not even close to being onside.

49' CHANCE! Salah is looking for a goal on his return to the Premier League. The Egyptian steps inside onto his left foot but curls an effort wide of the target.

47' But Watford appear to have a player who can't continue. Pereyra hobbles off and newboy Richarlison is set to make his debut for the club.

47' Gini Wijnaldum was out on the pitch before his teammates during the interval. Appears to have a slight injury problem. Seems to be playing through it at present.

46' Second half underway!

Looking at the two benches, both sides have good attacking options to bring on in the second period. Watford could introduce new additions Richarlison and Andre Gray.

The away side have shown they can breakdown a stubborn Watford defence with their intricate touches and passes. Mane, Salah and Firmino need to be getting on the ball and using one another.

Zonal marking will again be a talking point. How was Watford's biggest player allowed so much room in the area? And was Mignolet slightly at fault for not coming for the ball?

The Hornets' first corner of the season brought their first goal. Liverpool just can't seem to sort their set-piece problem out, can they?

Klopp's men look uninspired. Poor for the majority of the half, apart from a very well worked goal by Mane. The defence, again, letting them down badly.

Watford can be extremely happy with their first half under Marco Silva. Look very organised and up for the fight. Liverpool on the other hand...

HALF TIME: WATFORD 2-1 LIVERPOOL. 

45+3' Huge chance for Liverpool to equalise with the last attempt of the half! But Mane can only glance his header wide of the far post. Gomes was beaten. Very unlucky for the visitors.

45' Four minutes of added time here in the first-half.

42' Just a second corner of the game for Watford, their first having yielded the first goal of the game. What will this one bring? Cleverley's delivery is into the back post but Mignolet claims well.

41' Incredibly, this is only the second time in the last 50 years that Liverpool have conceded two goals or more in the first-half of their opening league game. The last time was 21 years ago against Middlesbrough. 

39' "Where is Coutinho?" chant the Watford fans. A valid question. Bar a few moments - most notably the equaliser - Liverpool have shown remarkably little threat. Their defence has been more threatening if anything, though only to themselves.

38' What. A. Chance. Should it be 2-2? Salah dispossesses Holebas and runs in towards the near post from the right but stabs into the sky from close-range on his left foot.

37' Chalobah feels confident and tries to catch Mignolet out from the half-way line. Miles wide.

35' Liverpool's frailties have been desperately exposed thus far and once again Watford are in control. It was a moment of brilliance from Mané - and Can too - to bring the Reds level but one immediately cancelled out by their ineptitude at the back. Could that be the story of their season?

32' Awful defending as Cleverley is left in space down the right and Alexander-Arnold first meets his low cross but can't clear and it falls for Doucouré to fire in from close-range. Two minutes and 41 seconds was how low Liverpool were level for.

31' GOAAALLL!! And it's 2-1 to Watford! What a response. Doucouré puts the Hornets back ahead.

29' That's much, much more like it from Liverpool. Mané combines with Moreno and dummies the full-back's return pass. That allows Can to fire a first-time ball through for Mané, who fires high into the far top corner to level it up.

28' GOAAAAALL!! It's 1-1 and it's wonderful from Sadio Mané!

25' Remarkably little creativity from Liverpool so far. They've been well blunted by Watford's defensive shape, but the Reds have yet to really ask much of Silva's side despite Mané and Salah's pace out wide.

24' SNAPSHOT: Goalscorer Okaka celebrates breaking the deadlock. He's been a real handful so far, particularly for Dejan Lovren. 

22' Watford's organisation restricting Liverpool from getting into the dangerous areas of the pitch as a high press forces the Reds to play across their back-line before Okaka pressures Mignolet into firing upfield.

20' Liverpool starting to show signs of their threat but Kiko wins a foul from Mané down the left. Watford have contained the Merseyside outfit pretty comfortably until now.

17' Liverpool fire a few high balls into the box but none of them lead to anything before Mané is flagged offside. That break in play allows Watford to replace Janmaat with free transfer Kiko Femenia, making his debut.

15' Janmaat carrying a knock and it looks as though he could be forced off as he receives some treatment from the Watford medical staff and summer signing Kiko Femenia  warms up on the touch-line. Meanwhile Marco Silva remonstrates with referee Anthony Taylor, seemingly pointing out a foul he feels the referee missed. 

12' Watford enjoying a spell on top after that opening goal. Holebas' long throw from the left reaches as far as Matip seven yards from goal and his clearing header falls to Chalobah, who almost pokes a through ball to one of several Watford layers still in the box - but none can quite react to reach the loose ball before Mignolet comes out to collect.

9' New season, same old problems. Lovren, Matip and Firmino were all close to Okaka but none of them offered much of a challenge to the towering frontman. 

8' Awful defending from the corner, with Okaka allowed far too much time and space inside the six-yard box and he powers a header which Mignolet can't keep out. A great start to Marco Silva's Watford career. 

7' GOAAALL!!! Watford lead 1-0 and it's Stefan Okaka!

6' CLOSE! Superb play from Okaka to control the ball, shrug off Can and release Pereyra into the channel down the left. He cuts inside and outside of Lovren before trying to fire past Mignolet into the far corner, but the shot takes a nick and goes just wide.

5' Janmaat wins possession high up the pitch from Mané and looks to hook a ball into the box to Okaka, but Matip is first to meet the cross. Certainly still defensive weaknesses there to be exploited against Liverpool.

4' Alexander-Arnold looks to loft a ball into Firmino in the centre, but with the Brazilian moving into a gap of space on the edge of the area, he can't bring the ball under control  and Gomes gathers. The Reds seeing more of possession at the moment.

3' Gomes' poor goal kick falls straight for Mané, who looks to clip a ball over the top in to the path of Salah but Britos heads comfortably clear. Moments later Janmaat then brings down Mané on the left-hand side. A relatively low-key start thus far.

1' We are underway at Watford. Hornets' new boy Chalobah getting the ball rolling from the centre circle.

12:27. Here we go. The players are out of the tunnel and on to the pitch to the tune of Z Cars at Vicarage Road. Not long now...

12:24. Despite having never won a Premier League opening day game, Watford are unbeaten in their last 10 consecutive first-day league games - winning five and drawing five, including both of their last two.

12:20. Closing in on kick-off down in Hertfordshire. Incredibly, at the age of 22 - this will be only Nathaniel Chalobah's second Premier League start ever. The former Chelsea Academy graduate left Stamford Bridge in search of more first-team football, now to see how he responds to it. The highly-rated midfielder is in his second spell with the Hornets, spending the 2012-13 season on loan with the then-Championship club - making 42 appearances in all competitions and scoring five goals. At £5 million, he has the potential to be an absolute bargain.

12:17. Interestingly, several Liverpool journalists have revealed that Andy Robertson has simply been left out of the squad and he is not carrying a knock that keeps him out. A disappointment to the Scot, no doubt.

12:13. A nice little stat courtesy of Sky Sports. Marco Silva is Watford's 9th different manager since June 2012 and this is the 3rd consecutive season they have started with new boss since their promotion back to the Premier League. Chopping and changing. 

12:10. An interesting titbit to remember. He did get to face them in the League Cup last September when Liverpool beat his Derby side 3-0, though. 

12:07. Watford have lost their last three Premier League meetings with Liverpool, with an aggregate score of 1-9 to the Reds over the course of those three meetings, while the Hornets have also lost four of their last five home games against Liverpool in the top flight - that 3-0 win in December 2015 the only exception.

12:03. The scene is all set. Can we expect more of the same of last night's thriller between Arsenal and Leicester? You never know with this Liverpool team.

11:59. His opposite, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, was meanwhile full of praise for Silva and insisted his side have looked carefully at the threats Watford will pose them today. He said: "We saw a few pre-season games, so we could watch what they did. So we should be prepared as good as possible – you’re never perfectly prepared, probably. But yes, we know what we could see. He’s [Silva] obviously a very dominant coach, because you could see a lot of things he brought in at Hull when he went there in a difficult moment. Now he’s had a full pre-season you can see a lot of his philosophy. Their style of play is kind of clear, they’re a football-playing side – that’s Silva as a manager. So we know where we have to defend and where we have to use maybe one of the other spaces in our offensive play. So that’s how it is. We have all that we need to know for the moment." 

11:56. Previewing this afternoon's clash in his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Silva told reporters: "It's the first test, nothing more. We have to play every team and I believe it's the best way is to play at home first, and build something and connect with our fans. We want to show something special at home in every game, and build something special. Our boys are working hard, which is normal at this moment, we've done our preparation and I believe we're ready to start the Premier League. We're starting in a good way, at home against a very good team. That's a good way to start I think." Relishing the pressure of a high-profile first game, clearly.

11:53. Watford boss Mario Silva was meanwhile unbeaten in his first seven home Premier League games as Hull manager last season, winning six - including a 2-0 win over Liverpool. Can he bring to an end the Hornets' six-game losing streak? It'll be interesting to see how his side set up tactically. They seemingly start in a 4-2-3-1 shape. 

11:49. Liverpool won their final four Premier League away fixtures last season and today are aiming to keep five consecutive league clean sheets for the first time in a decade. If they were to win without conceding a single goal, it would be the fourth consecutive top-flight away game in which they have done so - last enjoying a run as good as that between January and March 2002. 

11:46. No Troy Deeney at all for Watford, though they have options off the bench in summer signings Andre Gray and Richarlison. Fellow addition Will Hughes has no place in the squad. Perhaps he has a knock?

11:43. Which brings us to the main headline of those two line-ups... Alberto Moreno starts at left-back for Liverpool! Just a month ago, the Spaniard's Anfield career appeared all but over. They rejected bids from Napoli earlier this summer, holding out for £15 million. But Moreno performed well in the final games of pre-season - particularly against Bayern Munich - and has seemingly earned himself a second chance under Klopp. Can he take it? He needs a better opening day performance than last year. In a 4-3 win at Arsenal, Moreno conceded a penalty and was out of position for the first goal. 

11:40. Only one starting debutant per team then, with Mo Salah making a first Liverpool start and Nathaniel Chalobah starting in Watford's midfield. The Hornets have three players on their bench ready to make their first outings for the club, Liverpool with one. Summer signing Andrew Robertson has no place in the squad.

11:37. Liverpool bench: Karius, Klavan, Gomez, Milner, Grujić, Solanke, Origi.

11:35. Watford bench: Pantilimon, Prödl, Femenía, Watson, Capoue, Richarlison, Gray.

11:33. Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané. 

11:31. Watford XI: Gomes; Janmaat, Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Chalobah, Doucouré; Amrabat, Cleverley, Pereyra; Okaka.

11:26. The teams will be announced shortly...

Given we've only had one game so far, it's not too late to plug the predictions of some of VAVEL UK's Premier League editors for 2017-18. Take a look at what we guessed will happen and let us know your own predictions by tweeting them to @VAVEL. Are we right for all six of us to predict Pep Guardiola's Manchester City to win the title this season?

Did you know? Today's clash marks Jürgen Klopp's 100th competitive match as Liverpool manager, having won 50 of his 99 to date. Can his side claim the 51st win under the German here today? Vicarage Road is the scene of what remains his heaviest defeat as Reds boss, losing 3-0 to Watford back in December 2015.

Of four attempts until now, the Hornets have never won on the opening day of a Premier League season - drawing twice and losing twice. The last time they began a top-flight campaign with a win was well back in 1987-88, a season in which they went on to be relegated. By contrast, Liverpool are looking to win a opening Premier League game for the fifth successive year in a row.

It wasn't all that long ago that these two teams last met at this exact same venue. In fact, it is 103 days since Liverpool came to Watford on a Monday night and left as 1-0 winners thanks to Emre Can's Goal of the Season winner. Enjoy that spectacular bicycle kick goal again in all its glory here. 

Liverpool are likely to only hand club-record acquisition Mohamed Salah - brought in from AS Roma for £36.9 million earlier this summer - his first league start for the club, the winger likely to start on the left with Sadio Mané on the opposite flank. Fellow summer additions Andrew Robertson from Hull City and ex-Chelsea frontman Dominic Solanke could also make up Klopp's 18-man match-day squad given their other absences.

Of course, with this the first game of the season after a summer break - there will be a few debutants on either side. Watford could hand first competitive starts to club-record signing Andre Gray, who cost £18.5 million from Burnley, and £11 million Brazil U20 international Richarlison - who both joined the club earlier this week. Midfield duo Nathaniel Chalobah and Will Hughes, signed from Chelsea and Derby County respectively, could also make their bows - with right-back Kiko Femenia from Aláves another who could be handed his debut.

Watford could be without skipper Troy Deeney, who recently underwent surgery on a groin injury but was said to be progressing well on Thursday by manager Silva. The striker could be in with a shout of making the squad, though is unlikely to start after Silva revealed he had yet to return to full team training. Otherwise, Mauro Zárate (knee), Christian Kabasele (hamstring) and Brice Dja Djedje (knock) will all miss out, while centre-back Craig Cathcart is not yet back from a knee injury that ended his season early last year.

Coutinho will play no part today due to a reported back injury, with some understandably questioning the legitimacy of his issue. The midfielder has not trained since last Friday though and was therefore not available for contention today. That said, he might not have been involved even if he was fit after his request to leave was rejected on Friday. Liverpool will also be without senior players such as right-back Nathaniel Clyne (back), striker Daniel Sturridge (quad) and Adam Lallana (thigh). The good news is that captain Jordan Henderson is back from an illness that forced him to miss the club's final pre-season friendly last weekend.

But the story surrounding the Merseyside outfit right now undoubtedly concerns the future of playmaker Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian yesterday submitted an official transfer request in an effort to push through a move to Barcelona, just hours after Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group issued a statement insisting Coutinho was "definitively" not for sale this summer at any price. It's going to be an interesting final few weeks of the window at Anfield. Will Coutinho get his way? Liverpool have already rejected bids of £72 million and £90 million for their prized asset.

But moving on to today's game, which sees Marco Silva takescharge of his first competitive match as Watford manager after replacing Walter Mazzarri. The Hornets go looking to improve upon last season's nervy survival - ending up in 17th - this season under Silva but they face a tough start. The Portuguese boss' reign gets underway with a visit from Jürgen Klopp's Reds, who start the season rocked by off-field issues but looking to build on last season's fourth-placed finish. Indeed, they have a Champions League campaign to start on Tuesday when they face Hoffenheim in the first of a two-legged play-off qualifier to reach the group stages.

The 2017-18 campaign got underway last night with a breathless meeting between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium. The Foxes twice took the lead but lost 4-3 after late goals from double substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud handed the Gunners victory. Start as you mean to go on and all that. Over to you, Watford and Liverpool...

Good afternoon and welcome back! Yes, the Premier League is back - even though it has never quite been away such has been the madness of the summer transfer window. Today sees Watford host Liverpool at Vicarage Road as both teams kickstart their new top-flight campaigns and we'll have live minute-by-minute text commentary updates here for you at VAVEL UK. Kick-off is coming your way at 12:30pm BST, but until then we'll have all of the build-up and news before today's two teams are announced an hour before we get underway (11:30am), so stay tuned.

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