Mohamed Salah the best in the world? 5 things we learned as Liverpool hammer Watford
Watford blown away by Liverpool
Despite Watford’s change of manager that saw Claudio Ranieri in the dugout at Vicarage Road for the visit of Liverpool, it was the same old Watford side that took to the field.
An early goal from Sadio Mane, played through by Mo Salah, set the tone for a game that was one-sided from start to finish. The Hornets looked laboured out of possession, and could not live with the quick and silky interplay presented to them by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
. , ! pic.twitter.com/MAYCub37Cc
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 16, 2021
Firmino added a pair either side of half-time, before Mohamed Salah underlined his own credentials with a world-class goal and Firmino completed his hat-trick in stoppage time as the reds condemned Ranieri to a heavy debut defeat in charge of Watford.
Here are 5 things that 101 picked out from the game.
1. The offside rule needs changing
It was purely academic in this game, but Liverpool’s third goal demonstrated exactly what is wrong with the current offside rule.
As a defender this offside rule is nonsense!
If I’m the defender I’m always going to have to go for that ball because I don’t know if the flag will go up or not.
I wouldn’t go for the clearance if flag goes up & I already know Salah is in an offside position! #WATLIV
— Anita Asante (@NicenNeetz) October 16, 2021
Andy Robertson played a cross-field pass intended for Mohamed Salah, who had strayed into an offside position. Had Craig Cathcart let the ball through to Salah, the flag would have gone up.
However, Cathcart of course did not for certain know that Salah was offside, and so attempted to prevent the ball from reaching the Egyptian. His touch forced a sprawling save from Ben Foster, before Roberto Firmino tapped home the rebound into an empty net.
Of course, this takes nothing away from the quality of Liverpool’s performance or the result which they clearly deserved, but at some point that rule will have far more consequence than it did at Vicarage Road this afternoon.
2. Mane hits 100
Often left in the shadow of Salah, Sadio Mane netted the opener against Watford after a delightful pass from the Egyptian. In doing so, Mane notched up his 100th goal in the Premier League. 79 of those have come in the 169 games for Liverpool since his move from Southampton in 2016, meaning that while he is not quite as efficient as Salah, he still scores at almost one goal every other game.
Sadio Mane becomes the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals! pic.twitter.com/wkTpwMrdSN
— Goal (@goal) October 16, 2021
In bringing up the century, Mane joins Salah and Chelsea’s Didier Drogba as the only African players to have reached this landmark, while he is also the third player to hit the landmark without a single penalty goal.
While Salah will always take the plaudits, Mane continues to impress in the background.
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold puts on a clinic
Trent Alexander-Arnold was recalled to the Liverpool side after overcoming an injury that saw him omitted from the England squad in the most recent international break. It is safe to say that the Englishman impressed once more on his return, although Watford did little to test his more fragile defensive attributes.
Instead, it was his attacking and creative numbers that shone through.
The passing of @TrentAA is just utterly sublime. Will play a huge part in @England’s progress over the next few years. He’s on another level and has to play.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 16, 2021
As per sofascore, Alexander-Arnold had 82 touches in the hour he was on the pitch, making 58 accurate passes as well as providing 8 accurate long balls. There will be days when he has more to do defensively, but Watford could not handle him and Salah down the right-hand side at Vicarage Road.
4. Watford lack quality aside from Sarr
To say that Claudio Ranieri has his work cut out to keep Watford in the Premier League may be an exaggeration, but based on the performance that his Watford side turned in against Liverpool, it may not be for long.
The Italian takes over in a horrible run of fixtures for the Hornets, who have Everton, Arsenal, Manchester United, Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City as six of their next seven opponents, and need something special to avoid being in the relegation zone come Christmas.
And, aside from Ismaila Sarr, the side have little special going for them. Ben Foster is dependable if uninspiring, while Danny Rose endured a torrid afternoon and few players on the pitch inspired confidence wearing Watford yellow.
Do the Hornets have enough to stay up?
5. Mohamed Salah is the best in World football right now
Saving the best until last, it seems clear that Mo Salah is currently the best player in the world. Following a goal of the season contender against Manchester City, Mo Salah followed it up with another 10/10 performance against Watford.
Finding Mane for the opener with a beautiful pass with the outside of his foot, it was he who put the icing on the cake with another world-class goal, Liverpool’s fourth, that takes his goal contributions to 11 in just 8 games.
STOP THAT, MO SALAH!
The footwork is magical, the finish is sublime.
He had the Watford defence on strings! pic.twitter.com/tBWPWWOxeX
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 16, 2021
It was his all-round performance that really caught the eye too, with the winger leaving Danny Rose considering early retirement time and time again as he left the former Spurs full-back for dead relentlessly.
In doing so, he underlined his role as the best player in world football right now.