Liverpool suffered a shocking loss to Watford on Saturday. This ended their astonishing unbeaten streak in the Premier League. What led to one of the greatest teams in history to lose to a team in a relegation fight?
In the span of eighteen minutes, Watford scored three goals past arguably the best defense and goalkeeper in the Premier League on Saturday. The Hornets’ record signing Ismaila Sarr punched in two goals in a six-minute span followed by Troy Deeney striking the final blow in the 71st minute. As the crowd chanted the praises of Watford manager, Nigel Pearson, questions in the minds of most fans were:
Was this astonishing win by a club fighting relegation about how great they were or how poor the champions-to-be played? Is Liverpool so mentally and physically drained that they gave the match away? Can Jurgen Klopp get his club back on track in time for the tough road ahead?
It is easy to give quick hot take answers based on the eye test. However, the answers are more complicated. I will explore some key numbers that may provide some answers.
Let’s start at the top.
Jurgen Klopp‘s charges had gone forty-four Premier League matches without a defeat entering Saturday’s match. Their last loss was on January 3, 2019 when they lost to Manchester City. Included within the unbeaten run was a streak of 18 victories in the Premier League. A victory against the Hornets would have set the record for the longest league winning streak. The now shared holders of that record? Manchester City.
In this current era of the Premier League when most clubs have loads of money, talent, great facilities, coaches, and avid fanbases, a streak of this length is like seeing a crashed spacecraft in the desert – rare.
The number of wins enjoyed by Hornets supporters in the Premier League this season. Only Norwich City had less wins (4) going into this past weekend. The last place Canaries had a shock win of their own when they beat Leicester City giving them their fifth win. However, a shock victory over a team slowly falling apart doesn’t measure up to knocking off a club that had just won 18 straight.
Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster did not sustain an onslaught of shots. In fact, there was only one Liverpool shot on goal during the match. In the 51st minute, Andrew Robertson‘s left-footed shot from a Virgil Van Dijk pass was saved by Foster. The expected goals (xG) of that shot was a measly .06.
Liverpool had six other total shots with three missing the goal, two being blocked, and one hitting the post. None of these attempts had an xG over .04. In their first meeting with Watford in December, Klopp’s men had six shots on target and 16 total shots in a 2-0 victory at Anfield.