Heurelho Gomes 8
Faultless and a complete contrast to the nervous wreck at the other end. Tipped over a rising half volley from Jordan Henderson and pushed wide a drive from Emre Can but his signature moment came when, in the second period, he came out through a crowd of players to take a header from Christian Benteke off the head of Can. We’ve all seen him punch or flap at those before. His rehabilitation from that afternoon at Leicester is complete.
Allan Nyom 7
The only thing the club got wrong on just about a perfect afternoon was giving the man-of-the-match award to the right back. He took a step backwards from how he performed at Sunderland but that is not surprising given the step up in class of opposition. Quique Sanchez Flores, a right-back of some repute, was constantly on at the Cameroon international in the first half, which was a sure sign the head coach was not completely happy with his positioning and output.
Craig Cathcart 7
A regular watcher of the Hornets feels the Northern Ireland centre half makes one mistake a match, which is why he’s at Vicarage Road and not still at Old Trafford. He made his early on here, getting carried away with the excitement of it all and trying to trap a ball under pressure from Roberto Firmino. He got it wrong. Nathan Ake ensured nothing came of it and Cathcart did not put a foot wrong thereafter, dealing with the varied threat Liverpool threw at him.
Miguel Britos 8
He got in a cab outside the Red Lion after the game but it was his opponents who needed a taxi. Whoever he was pitched against, Firmino, Origi or Benteke, he did not give them a sniff. The way he smashed the ball into the stands and dumped Origi on his backside with one swipe of his left foot would have had the watching Paul Robinson purring, but he showed his cultured side too, particularly when he curled a clearance others would have hoofed out down the line to send Deeney haring after it.
Nathan Ake 9
“Sign him up, sign him, sign him,” was the cry from the Rookery End shortly after he scored his first senior goal. Watford are trying to keep his performances, which are getting better week by week, under the radar but that’s an impossible job when he scores inside three minutes and has a stormer live on Sky. Did everything required off him and more, particularly when he managed to block successive efforts from Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne while on the floor.
Ben Watson 8
It says a lot for how well he played that the only fault you could find with him was a second half, inswinging free-kick he overhit for a goal kick. Adam Bogdan will have been a relieved man as Watson’s delivery from corners caused him problems throughout the first half. He screened the back four as well as, if not better, than anyone in the Premier League this weekend. Unless Sanchez Flores switches to a midfield three, Valon Behrami is not getting his place back anytime soon.
Etienne Capoue 8
We loved how he was in such control against a high-class Liverpool midfield that he was able to toy with Jordan Henderson by the end, waving him away with nonchalant contempt after he complained for the umpteenth time to the referee. Did more dirty work today than he usually does, so much so that he did not find time to pop the ball through anyone’s legs. He and Watson were the best midfielders on view, some statement when you consider Lucas Leiva, Henderson, Can and Adam Lallana shared the same field.
Almen Abdi 9
Everyone knows about his technical ability and how he can unpick a defence, but we, along with his demanding head coach no doubt, marvelled at the remarkable number of interceptions he made and how he tracked back time after time. He made up an extraordinary amount of ground to cut out a cross-field pass bound for the overlapping Alberto Moreno in the second half and wrestled the same player to floor in the first. He rattled Lallana in one tackle and brilliantly dispossessed Can in another. He richly deserved the standing ovation he got when he was substituted.
Jose Manuel Jurado 7.5
Getting more influential by the week and the reception he received when he was replaced showed his doubters are starting to appreciate what he brings. Showed the flair side of his game when he threaded a pass to Ake that led to the corner for the first goal and again jinked impishly inside Leiva and Henderson. He brilliantly cushioned a ball that dropped out of the sky later on and sent Ighalo through for the chance he should have buried. Slightly undid his defensive work when he was caught sleeping for a short corner and did not spot the run of Leiva. Was out on his feet when he was replaced as part of a tactical switch after 76 minutes.
Troy Deeney 9
Followed up his worst performance of the season with his best. He was an absolute handful from the moment he robbed Mamadou Sakho in possession and you wonder if Martin Skrtel came off through injury or because he was already sick and tired of being bashed around by Watford’s captain. And let’s not forget, Skrtel is supposed to be a bruising centre-half. Deeney chased every lost cause yet he was not just an enforcer or simply a battering ram – his awareness and weight of pass to pick out Behrami in space for the cross that led to the third goal was of the highest order.
Odion Ighalo 9
The biggest surprise of the afternoon was that he didn’t beat Bogdan when put through one-v-one in the second half. He now has 28 in the calendar year and probably nearly as many victims who have been fooled by his scoop, Sakho being the latest to be sat on his backside. He doesn’t look the most imposing of strikers but he has now shrugged off Sebastian Bassong and Sktrel like they were Sunday League centre-halves and not international defenders.
Ikechi Anya 6
Summoned by Sanchez Flores to counter the threat of Jordan Ibe who had been slung on by Jurgen Klopp minutes earlier. Gave one pass away in a crucial area but you can’t help but love Anya, especially when you see him charging half the length of the pitch post-match.
Valon Behrami 7
Bound onto the pitch for only his second taste of action at Vicarage Road since September. Delivered an inch-perfect cross for Ighalo to head in the second. Celebrated by sitting on the floor by rolling up his socks.
It was almost cruel on the Algerian when Sanchez Flores gesticulated to him when he was warming up, thinking he was about to be Watford’s first change. Instead, the head coach was telling him to tell Behrami to send Anya back. His time will surely come.