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 By Steven Kelly

Mohamed Salah impresses but poor marking dooms Liverpool again

English Premier League: Miguel Britos (90'+3) Watford 3-3 Liverpool
English Premier League: Mohamed Salah (57') Watford 2-3 Liverpool

New season, same excitement, same problems. Only the eternally charitable could call Watford's late equaliser a shock. It renewed focus on Liverpool's inability to buy proper defensive reinforcements this summer.

WatfordWatford
LiverpoolLiverpool
3
3
FT
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Positives

On a day that was hardly vintage, the Reds still scored three and could easily have scored another four. Their firepower when players perform at their peak level could be frightening. If only games were played solely in the opposition half.

Negatives

What else? Two more goals conceded from corners proved little or nothing has been done to rectify Liverpool's main flaw.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Defensive ineptitude once again brings into question whether Klopp is even interested in solving this problem. Substitutions for already tiring players are always late because the Reds cannot manage games as easily as other, less talented sides.  

Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Simon Mignolet, 6 -- Little he could do for the goals, but extra time was added on because of his needless and petty timewasting. The usual problem with kicking and there may even be question marks over the late save that led to the decisive Watford corner.

DF Trent Alexander Arnold, 7 -- Another solid and promising display from the youngster filling in for Nathaniel Clyne. Not really to blame for the generally poor defending, he also gave his manager a bonus with some accurate, dangerous corners. Good going forward, too.

DF Joel Matip, 5 -- A poor first-half display, too laconic for his own good at times with careless passing and wandering forward leaving gaps at the back. Almost gave Liverpool a conclusive fourth goal, but must take his share of the blame for the disarray at the back.

DF Dejan Lovren, 5 -- Regularly outmuscled by several Watford players, his judgement was woeful at times. May survive at Anfield simply because the club can't ever get their transfer strategy right, but that's hardly a consolation to the supporters.

DF Alberto Moreno, 6 -- Continued his reasonable preseason form and for once wasn't Liverpool's worst defender. Also looked good going forward and nearly claimed a goal with an excellent strike.

MF Jordan Henderson, 6 -- Steady but limited, he was found wanting and out of position for Watford's second goal. Not much expected of him in a deep role, but showed why the Reds already miss Philippe Coutinho in the midfield as his creative play was practically nonexistent.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 -- Virtually invisible in the first half and looked to be hampered by an injury, he found another level after the break but squandered a great opportunity to make the game safe.

Mohamed Salah & Roberto Firmino
Mohamed Salah delivered a fine debut performance, scoring Liverpool's third and drawing a penalty.

MF Emre Can, 6 -- Just about the best of the midfield three, but erratic. Neat touch to set up Sadio Mane's equaliser, he then back-heeled the ball negligently out of play just before Watford regained the lead three minutes later. Great at times and dozy at others, which almost sums up Liverpool's afternoon.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 -- As dangerous as ever. Not at his best, but still scored an excellent goal and didn't let a few rough challenges put him off. Looked very tired at the end, but had to stay on as the Reds couldn't kill the game.

FW Mohamed Salah, 8 -- Fine debut from the Egyptian, even if he may be disappointed after only scoring one goal. A constant thorn in Watford's side during an impressive second half, preseason expectations were met on day one.

FW Roberto Firmino, 6 -- But for the penalty and the lob towards goal which led to Salah scoring, his game was a frustrating mix of admirable effort but poor control. Of all the attacking players, he certainly missed Coutinho the most.

Substitutes

FW Divock Origi, NR -- Brought on to help close the game but still has problems with control and taking up the positions a manager wants from a late substitution.

MF James Milner, NR -- No time left to use his experience to help his team kill the game. Maybe should have come on ten minutes earlier.

DF Joe Gomez, NR -- Poor decision by Klopp, as Alexander-Arnold was doing okay and Gomez gave away a needless free kick which only put more pressure on a stressful defence.

Steven Kelly is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.

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