Liverpool need to fix leaky defence, says Neil Humphreys
Reds will struggle unless they quickly sign a centre back or change system
(Nathan Ake 3, Odion Ighalo 15, 85)
At the very least, Juergen Klopp knows what he wants for Christmas. The list to Santa is straightforward.
If the German is a good boy, he wants a striker and especially a central defender to save his season.
But there is a debate to be had about how "good" Klopp has been at Liverpool.
His enthusiasm initially allowed a fractured camp to gel, but his insistence on playing a formation and a strategy with the wrong players is very "bad" indeed.
The Reds' high, counter-pressing style was ruthlessly exposed at Watford. Only the 3-0 scoreline yesterday flattered the visitors.
Klopp hoped for a swift counter-attack with no recognised strikers and encouraged a high defence with dreadful centre backs.
Odion Ighalo's double exposed Mamadou Sakho, leaving him more static than a Christmas tree.
Like the muddiest of buses, Liverpool were a mess at front and back, making their midfield almost irrelevant.
If Klopp retains ambitions of Champions League qualification, a fanciful hope at this stage, then a striker and a central defender blessed with speed rather than feet of clay are essential in the January transfer window.
Otherwise, Reds fans should resign themselves to many more depressing defeats like that at Watford.
The buzzing Hornets in the stands barely had time to find their seats when Adam Bogdan handed them a gift so Christmassy, all that were missing were the red and white ribbons and a red-nosed reindeer.
Liverpool's inconsistency between the sticks has been well documented, but Klopp must acknowledge the creeping crisis among his custodians.
All goalkeepers make blunders, but this was a calamitous howler.
In the third minute, a whipped corner turned Bodgan's brain to ice-cream on his Premier League debut.
He patted the ball down and clutched at it like a seal slapping away a fish. Then the Hungarian missed the second chance to re-gather and Nathan Ake poked home from three metres.
Even the goalscorer was a shock. Before Ake's scrappy finish, 15 of Watford's 18 goals had come from Troy Deeney and Ighalo.
Klopp's emphasis on high pressing will increasingly polarise if he doesn't get to grips with the blood and guts of the English Premier League.
It's not lapsing into cliche to say the league's thunderous nature embarrasses the German against the likes of Newcastle and now Watford.
The hosts' second was damningly simple in its execution.
Deeney stole possession far too easily, but his lofted ball over the top would hardly excite Barcelona aesthetes.
Martin Skrtel had every chance to clear and blew it. Ighalo brushed him away like lint on a dinner jacket.
The Nigerian powered into the box and struck his shot across the lumbering Bogdan.
Liverpool's response was nigh on pitiful. Their 4-3-3 was a naive attempt to overcome Watford's old-school 4-4-2, and the move only highlighted the Reds' underlying failings.
The fragile triumvirate of Bogdan, Skrtel and Sakho were left woefully exposed as soon as Klopp's high-pressers lost possession. Skrtel's knock at least allowed Divock Origi to put him out of his misery.
On the few occasions the Reds crept across the halfway line, their natural link man, Philippe Coutinho, was isolated on the left wing.
Had nominal centre-forward Roberto Firmino popped out to do some last-minute Christmas shopping in the first half, no one would've noticed.
The second half saw little improvement. Jordan Henderson offered a passing outlet, but again there was the problem of positioning.
On the right wing, he saw the ball far too infrequently.
So did Sakho. He missed the ball entirely in the 63rd minute, slipping and allowing Ighalo through on goal. Bodgan pulled off a smart save in a bid to make amends.
But Ighalo would not be denied. In the 85th minute, substitute Valon Behrami clipped a cross from the right. Ighalo was waiting. Sakho wasn't.
The Watford striker's neat header summed up proceedings. His strength and aggression were more than enough to knock over powder-puff defending.
His double blew Klopp's smokescreen away. The German knew he had limited resources to work with, but squeezing square pegs into round holes isn't working.
Klopp either signs a centre back and a striker or he switches the system.
He may still see hares when he examines his line-up. The trouble is his opponents see only tortoises.
"It was a bad start to the game. Of course the first goal with Adam Bogdan, he should keep it and he drops it. It is his fault. Having seen it again usually it is a foul but our reaction was really bad. We lost our minds and stopped playing football."
- Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp on Bogdan’s mistake
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