Liverpool opened the new season at Vicarage Road with a deja vu hangover from last season. The summer seemed insufficient to shake the hangover of laboured movement, toothless possession, and slapstick defending.

The Reds have struggled against bigger, stronger sides for some time now and Watford were ready to bully the visitors from the opening whistle. The Hornets were more than just pests, physically battering Reds all over the pitch and prevented them from achieving any sense of sustained rhythm. It took an entirely sleepy first half for Liverpool to turn things around

Of greater concern is what likely impact any of the missing starters might have made in this first eleven. While not truly the problem, both fullbacks struggled for stretches before settling. In midfield, a muddy malaise lacked creativity without Philippe Coutinho in attack. The front three rescued the side from a completely shambolic start to the campaign but it wasn’t enough.

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