06 November 2016

Liverpool 6-1 Watford

Mané 27' 60'
Coutinho 30'
Can 43'
Firmino 57'
Janmaat 75'
Wijnaldum 90+1'

That it took until the 27th minute to open the scoring seemed excruciating.

Liverpool pummeling Watford from the opening whistle. Firmino's half-volley saved. Lucas heading wide and then saved from point-blank range. Coutinho into the side-netting. Firmino wide when put through on goal. Mané straight at Gomes from the top of the box. Milner denied at the back post after a wonderful move.

It's been a very different Liverpool so far this season, but it's not easy to forget the trauma of seasons past.

That many chances by the 25th minute and you should think "holy crap, this team is good and a goal's inevitable." Liverpool fans still think "crap how is this gonna go wrong." A few more performances like this and maybe we'll stop.

Amusingly, Liverpool's opener was almost certainly the most difficult chance they'd had to that point. Coutinho's short corner, Coutinho's cross, Mané somehow getting in front of his marker and stooping to flick a header that Luis Garcia would be proud of. For Liverpool's third goal from a corner in less than a match and a half. Yet another sign that the apocalypse is upon us.

And from there, the dam burst. The dam disintegrated. Three minutes later, Coutinho thumped a trademark shot from the top of the box after a beep beep roadrunner move from Clyne to Mané to Lallana to Firmino to Phil after Liverpool regained possession in their own half. Gomes' unfortunate injury slowed the pace for a few minutes, but then Karius' goal kick, Firmino's aerial win, Coutinho to Lallana crossed to a wide open Can at the back post. 3-0, goodnight and good luck before halftime.

Halftime and Liverpool had scored from a set play, with a blitz one-touch passing move, and from a direct long pass from the goal-keeper followed by a cross. This Liverpool team really can score in every single way.

And we got more of the same in the second half. As usual, Liverpool were a bit more patient, Watford had a bit more possession, Liverpool were a bit happier to control proceedings with a three-goal lead, but you can only stop the bum rush for so long. The fourth came in the 57th when Watford only half-cleared a free kick, Henderson finding Lallana's clever run into space, Lallana's perfect low cross finding Firmino for a tap-in.

Just like in the first half, a second Liverpool goal followed the opener within three minutes: Henderson wins possession from a rushed kick from the goalkeeper, finds Firmino with a throughball, who waits for support then finds Mané for another tap-in, nutmegging his marker with the assist.

I'll remind that this Watford team hadn't conceded a goal in its last three matches. Or, as someone cleverer than I put it on Twitter:

Facing Liverpool might be a little different than facing Boro, Swansea, and Hull.

We saw a bit of a dip at 5-0, Watford finally coming into the game, forcing three excellent saves from Karius before another clean sheet gets thrown away when an open Janmaat passed the ball into the net. And it's a bit frustrating. 11 games, just one opponent held scoreless. But it happened at 5-0. Watford didn't have a single shot in Liverpool's box until it was 5-0. Loris Karius made seven saves in total, three of them actually really impressive. And if it's not 5-0, Milner probably wins a free kick in the build-up, fouled by Amrabat before the wing-back set up Janmaat.

So be it. Watford probably shouldn't have poked the beast anyway, because, unsurprisingly, that goal woke Liverpool right up. Sturridge hit the woodwork twice, had two other shots saved. Coutinho blasted over when open from 12 yards. Firmino could have won a penalty when pulled down going for Coutinho's set play cross. Watford couldn't have been aggrieved had they lost by eight. Finally, in injury time, Wijnaldum scored his first for Liverpool, a rebound on yet another Sturridge effort saved.

It was the absolute least that Liverpool deserved for the previous 15 minutes. And, like the rest of the match, so enjoyable it's almost certainly fatting.

Liverpool have already scored 30 league goals this season, a total they didn't hit until the 23rd match last season. At the end of January.

Each of the front three scored at least once today: Mané's fifth and sixth of the season, Coutinho's fifth, Firmino's fifth. Lallana tallied his fourth and fifth assists of the campaign, Firmino his second and third, Coutinho his fifth. That Sturridge didn't find the net is more frustrating than anything else we saw today, a player who wants, needs, and fully merited a goal.

And Liverpool's 17 shots on-target are the most in a Premier League match since 2003-04, when Opta started keeping track.

Liverpool have had 10 different goal-scorers through 11 league games, and that's with both Sturridge and Origi yet to tally in the Premiership.

That attack was absolutely unplayable today, and not for the first time. And it was the first time they'd faced a back three. No matter.

But it's not just the front three and Lallana though, even if they deserve all the headlines. Henderson's thriving as a #6, Liverpool's new metronome in the build-up but also playing a crucial role in two of Liverpool's goals. For better and worse – usually better – Emre Can rolls through midfield like a boulder headed downhill, and his two goals in the last two games equal his league total from the previous two campaigns combined. Milner's arguably the best left-back in the league at the moment and Clyne's not too shabby on the other side. Even Lucas can come into the side and be mostly fine, admittedly against not the most dangerous of opposition. It probably helps to play alongside Joël Matip.

Now into the last international break for a couple of months while sitting atop the league. It's hard to fathom considering where Liverpool were a year ago.

But, yes, Liverpool have played just 11 games. Be excited what they've done and where they are, but be very aware that Liverpool haven't achieved anything yet.

But, yes, Liverpool have played just 11 games. And they already look this good. And the rest of the league should be very afraid.

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