I was at Vicarage Road to witness the result of the season on Saturday and the place was rocking.
Try telling those fans celebrating at full time, and singing ‘we are staying up’, that this 3-0 demolition of the club who will be crowned champions was down to Liverpool.
This was not a day to analyse Liverpool’s downfalls to death but rather to celebrate Watford
This was in fact down to Watford and a perfect game plan from Nigel Pearson, executed brilliantly by his band of determined players.
Let’s start with Troy Deeney, the 31-year-old bulldozer and driving force of this side. He gave his all —not that we would expect anything less from the club captain — and told us on Sky Sports afterwards how he targeted Dejan Lovren.
Ismaila Sarr was sensational, the star of the show whose pace and power left Liverpool gasping for air.
When he raced through in the 60th minute, one on one with Alisson and with the chance to double Watford’s lead, he had four seconds to think of what to do. That may not sound like long but, believe me, so much goes through your mind. Yet Sarr, cool as you like, chipped Liverpool’s goalkeeper and made it 2-0.
Abdoulaye Doucoure has been reinvented in the No 10 role, and Etienne Capoue looked like a top-six club player in midfield, roaming from box to box. If he could do that regularly, rather than turn it on and off, he would be some player.
Ismaila Sarr was sensational and his pace and power left Liverpool gasping for air on Saturday
The only downside for Watford from this was the injury to Gerard Deulofeu. We hope he makes a swift recovery, because he was Liverpool’s chief tormentor up until he was forced off before the break.
He was terrorising Trent Alexander- Arnold and Pearson did not want to relent. He made a positive substitution, bringing on Roberto Pereyra, and Watford got their reward in the second half.
When a good team lose a game of football, all we seem to want to do is pick their players apart and analyse the manager’s decisions.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘a bad day at the office’ and sometimes that’s all there is to it. It happens in everyday life. Lethargy creeps in. You rock up at work and for whatever reason, you don’t put in the same shift you did previously.
Virgil van Dijk endured a rare off day but Watford’s victory was mainly down to their brilliance
That was the case with Liverpool on Saturday. Of course they missed Joe Gomez and captain Jordan Henderson, and Virgil van Dijk — the best defender in the world — was among those who had a rare off day.
But this victory was primarily down to the brilliance of Watford, hence why so many of Pearson’s men dominate my Team of the Weekend.
Too many sides have been scared to go after Liverpool, who have won 13 Premier League games by only one goal this season. Watford did, with aggressive front-foot football, and they got the win they deserved.
Whenever I see Gary Cahill on the school run, he looks like he’s got another five years left in him! Cahill is 34 now, and Chelsea released him at the end of last season. He is a top professional and leader of men, and Crystal Palace’s decision to sign him in the summer was a masterstroke.
We underestimate the value of people like Cahill, who has been there, done it and won it. He sets the right example for younger members in the squad and brings a wealth of winning experience.
I hope Jack Grealish, who seemed to be holding his calf after Aston Villa’s spirited performance on Sunday, emerges unscathed. Losing him would be a monumental blow to Villa in their fight for survival.
Jack Grealish seemed to be holding his calf after Aston Villa’s loss to Manchester City
I spoke to Jarrod Bowen after he made his West Ham debut against Manchester City. There was a smile, a handshake, a ‘How are you?’ Then we got talking about his step up to the Premier League.
The best advice I could offer him, after seeing how he scored so freely for Hull and his confidence in the Championship, was not to be intimidated. I told him to enjoy it and embrace it. Players who make the move into the Premier League have a habit of thinking their new opponents are better than they are. That’s partly because the majority of them are household names and they’re used to watching them compete on Sky Sports rather than competing with them.
When making that step up, half the battle is believing you can cut it at this level. Bowen showed he has that belief against Southampton on Saturday.
My Dad was at Bournemouth’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea and he said Frank Lampard’s side were well in control until a three-minute spell saw the hosts turn it around. In hindsight, Lampard will take that point from the Vitality Stadium, which came courtesy of Marcos Alonso.
To contribute two goals was the perfect response from Alonso to his sending off against Bayern Munich. Lampard’s system of three at the back, with the Spaniard used as a left wing-back, suits his skillset perfectly.
Marcos Alonso responded perfectly to his sending off with two goals against Bournemouth
It feels like whoever finishes fourth in the Premier League this season will be the ones who stumble over the line. Even Leicester, who were 14 points clear of fifth in December, look like they are doing their best to put pressure on themselves.
They lost Wilfred Ndidi for a while, and the system was tweaked, but now with 10 games to go, it is crunch time for them and the chasing clubs.