With a crucial fixture in the race for top four against Southampton looming up ahead, Sanjay Nair takes a look at the positives for Liverpool.
Tuning into the game against Watford, Liverpool fans could be excused for thinking it was the latest episode of WWE’s Monday Night RAW. Watford’s intentions were clear from the start – strong physical approach to deny Liverpool any rhythm early on.
Coutinho, on whom so much depends securing that most dreamt of Champions League spot, was a victim of this approach and his night came to an early end. Hopefully, it is not going to put him out of the remaining matches and scupper any lingering CL hopes.
More hard tackles followed before Liverpool survived further injuries and went about dominating the game. In the end, the better side went home with the three points, put the pressure back on the three teams below them and there are at least three positives to reflect upon ahead of a visit from Southampton.
Emre Can nearing the complete package
The latter half of the season has been a sort of reawakening for Emre Can. He is making his presence felt more and more with every passing game by imposing himself at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield.
The ability to shoot well with both feet is always an advantage for any player and Can has shown he can do well from any range.
Almost everyone in the stadium and those watching at home were left dumbfounded with his goal against Watford which eventually secured the three points.
The sheer audacity at attempting that bicycle kick on the run shows Can’s confidence is sky high at the moment. He has also made the absence of Jordan Henderson less felt and reduced one major headache for the manager.
His overall approach to the role of midfield enforcer is improving every game and it will not be long before he can be labelled the complete package.
A barely match-fit Sturridge can still strike fear into defences
For all his injury issues and time out on the sidelines, a just-about match-fit Daniel Sturridge once again showed what a quality striker can do.
Brought on with just five minutes left against the Hornets, he carved out a chance out of nothing and would have sealed the game had it not been for a brilliant stop by Gomes.
The Englishman also managed to hold up play and eat into some valuable stoppage time and frustrate Watford that much more. He may not fit into the high-pressing game that Klopp builds his team around but if Sturridge is not sold next season and stays injury free for even 75% of the season, there is no doubt that he will get us loads of goals.
So much talent, so enigmatic – it will be an absolute shame if his career will forever be remembered for his affinity to get injured at the drop of a hat, or a boot in his case.
Mignolet can become a Liverpool goalkeeping legend
For those who have only seen Mignolet in the past six or seven games, it would be difficult to understand what the fuss is all about.
Simon has been terrific is his own quite manner and against Watford, he continued his good form and was a confident presence within the box. He made a host of clean collections, had one fantastic fingertip save from Capoue to preserve our lead and more importantly did not cause any jitters with fancy footwork or botched clearances.
I was inclined to think that Mignolet’s issues revolved around his physical presence. But at 1.93m, he stands toe-to-toe with the likes of Manuel Neuer and David De Gea and going back in time, is taller than goalkeeping heroes such as Peter Shilton, Bruce Grobbelaar and Oliver Kahn.
Mignolet is well known for his ability to handle spot kicks and is also a brilliant shot stopper. One always gets the feeling he is just not doing enough justice to the talent at this disposal.
Perhaps it is something as basic as a sheer lack of confidence in his own abilities that is stopping him from being a legend in his own right.
Klopp certainly has shown ample confidence in him despite the occasional howler and maybe a bit of work in the off-season from the backroom staff to put his head in the right space will soon set Mignolet onto the path of goalkeeping immortality.