For the first time in 422 days, Liverpool has lost a Premier League game.
Ismaïla Sarr scored two goals in the second half and relegation-battling Watford startled the runaway league leaders 3-0 at Vicarage Road.
Liverpool had won 26 of its first 27 games this season, the best start ever in one of Europe’s top five leagues. Since a draw at Manchester United in October, the Reds had won 18 straight league games, which tied Manchester City’s record from 2017.
That’s where the streak ended, as Watford came out flying and Liverpool flat. The first goal in the 54th minute exemplified the different temperaments.
Virgil van Dijk was tame in closing down Abdoulaye Doucouré, whose ball from the touchline met a hard-charging Sarr as he beat indecisive Liverpool keeper Alisson and fullback Andrew Robertson:
Not long after, Watford’s Will Hughes sprung Sarr again with a pinpoint pass forward, and Sarr collected himself before dinking Alisson:
By the time Troy Deeney tacked on the third goal, the home fans were enraptured:
It’s undeniably a huge win for Watford, which jumps out of the relegation zone into 17th place, ahead of Bournemouth on goal difference. Outside of a six-game unbeaten run from mid-December to mid-January, it’s been a tough season for Watford.
So what happened to Liverpool? For one, captain Jordan Henderson and veteran James Milner didn’t play, and their steadying presences seemed to be missed.
Otherwise, the same thing happened to Liverpool that’s happened to literally every champion in English top-flight history: They had an off day. It’s no grand secret. The Reds have played well short of their potential for most of February.
Two English champions, Arsenal in 2003-04 and Preston North End way back in 1888-89, managed to avoid defeat the entire season even on days they weren’t at their best. Liverpool couldn’t quite match the feat, and also ended at 44 straight league games unbeaten, five short of Arsenal’s record of 49.
But the Reds are still going to win the league for the first time in 30 years. With 79 points already and 10 games remaining, they have a great chance to surpass Manchester City’s record of 100 points from two seasons ago.
They just won’t do it without a blemish. Watford will celebrate that long into the night.
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