Jürgen Klopp’s side show signs of slackening in their defeat at Watford and it could cost them their European crown

There’s a phrase Joe Fagan was fond of, one he used repeatedly in his diary detailing the 1983-84 season as Liverpool completed a hat-trick of league titles: “easy-osey”. It could happen in victory and it could happen in defeat, but it meant the sense he had that the team weren’t quite at it, that confidence was in danger of tipping into complacency, that the edge and the intensity that were so characteristic of that Liverpool side weren’t quite there. Defeats rarely have a single origin, but there’s little doubt what Fagan would have been saying about Liverpool after they lost at Watford on Saturday.

Of course there were other factors. Watford were excellent, for one, well-organised and rejuvenated by the return of Kiko Femenia and Ismaïla Sarr. It’s no coincidence that their recent downturn in form has coincided with the absence of their right flank. And Sarr, with his intelligence of movement and pace drifting in from the right, was the perfect weapon for exposing Liverpool as Troy Deeney dominated Dejan Lovren.

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

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