Rampant Watford end Liverpool’s invincible dream with emphatic victory

February 29, 2020
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One of the greatest unbeaten streaks in the history of the English game always had to end somewhere, but that it came against a club who have sacked two managers already this season and nursed a relegation death-wish since August, made this evening a truly surreal event.

Liverpool’s invincible season is over. They will surely win their first Premier League nonetheless, a historic 30-year wait that only a force majeure or international public health event could realistically stop now but the dream of going 50 games unbeaten and writing themselves into the record books is over. Stopped by an astonishing performance from a Watford side that began the day in 19th place and played – in the second half at least – like a more adventurous version of Atlético Madrid.

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Diego Simeone, Carlo Ancelotti, and, now Nigel Pearson – the only three managers who have defeated a full-strength Jürgen Klopp Liverpool team in this season in which the leaders have looked unstoppable. The clock is stopped for Liverpool at 44 games undefeated going back to Jan 3 last year, and brings to an end a remarkable 18 straight wins in the league. They will be eager to get back on that run come next Saturday at home to Bournemouth after Tuesday’s FA Cup tie, although for now Arsène Wenger’s 49-game 2004 unbeaten run at Arsenal is safe in history.

Liverpool were dreadful. Their famous front three were unrecognisable, to the extent that Klopp replaced Roberto Firmino with the lesser-spotted Takumi Minamino before the end. Even more surprising was the rank-poor defensive performance, a situation not helped by the absence of Joe Gomez, replaced by Dejan Lovren who had one of those bad days of his. But there were below-par performances from the unlikeliest of characters, including Virgil Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

For Ismaila Sarr, who scored two wonderful goals, including a breakaway finish for his second, it was a splendid day. So too Troy Deeney who got the third and was generally more than a match for Lovren. For Pearson it was a triumph, having faced Liverpool in his first game in charge of Watford in December when the team did well at Anfield but inevitably succumbed in the end. He lost Gerard Deulofeu to a bad injury in the first half when his team were more than a match for Liverpool before raising their game again after the break.

The Telegraph

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