Jürgen Klopp regards Watford loss as ‘rather positive’ for Liverpool

• No records to chase allows team to play ‘free’, says manager
• Nigel Pearson says Watford must emulate win in last 10 games

Jürgen Klopp insisted Liverpool will “go again” after suffering their first Premier League defeat of the season at the hands of Watford, and went on to insist that it could actually prove a positive for his players as it frees them of the burden of attempting to win the title with an unbeaten record.

Liverpool arrived at Vicarage Road on the back of a run of 44 games unbeaten in the league, the last 18 of which were victories. A 19th here would have set a top‑flight record and seemed a certainty given they were facing opponents who sat in the relegation zone at kick-off, having not won any of their last five league games. But instead Nigel Pearson’s men recorded a resounding and fully deserved victory, scoring all of their three goals in the second half, with Ismaïla Sarr their undoubted star. The Senegal winger, making his first start in over a month having been sidelined with a hamstring injury, scored the hosts’ opening two goals before assisting Troy Deeney for the third.

“The most important thing is congratulations to Watford, well deserved,” said Klopp. “The first half there were football things that didn’t work out for us and overall we didn’t create enough and that’s what leads to a defeat. But it’s just one football game and we have to admit that Watford was the better team.”

Asked if he cared that Liverpool could no longer emulate Arsenal’s Invincibles of 2004, or indeed match or better their 49-game unbeaten run in the league, Klopp said: “Not really, because I don’t think you can break records because you want to break records. You break records because you are 100% focused on each step.

“It was clear that at some time we would lose a game. We didn’t wait for it but it was clear that it would happen. Tonight it happened. I see it rather positive. Because from now on we can play free football again. We don’t have to defend or try to get the record we just can try to win football games again.”

Liverpool, who produced only one shot on target and defensively were poor, are still well on course to win the title given they sit 22 points clear of Manchester City – albeit having played a game more – and require only 12 points from their last 10 fixtures to be crowned champions for the first time since 1990. Their next league game is at home to Bournemouth on Saturday, while they visit Chelsea in the FA Cup on Tuesday.

For Watford, the priority is avoiding relegation and they will feel that is more than possible after this win, not only because of who it came against but also because it lifts them out of the bottom three, albeit on goal difference.

“To beat the best club side in the world is testament to how we played,” said Pearson, for whom the only negative of this game was the knee injury sustained in the first half by Gerard Deulofeu, which required him to go to hospital and is likely to keep him out of action for some time. “It’s very satisfying but it’s just one game. We’ve got 10 games left and we have got to try to emulate what we have done today in terms of performance.”


Sachin Nakrani at Vicarage Road

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