Liverpool must move on from Manchester United defeat as top four fight intensifies

After last weekend's setback against Manchester United, Liverpool will be desperate to get back on track against Watford on Saturday.

Winning as much as the Reds have done of late has certain drawbacks. Every dropped point now feels calamitous and builds up enormous pressure on players who were at one stage playing with such freedom and joy.

The visit of Watford would appear to be opportune. In their two visits to Anfield since promotion in 2015 they've been beaten 2-0 and 6-1 without putting up too much resistance.

Currently in eight place, their Premier League campaigns thus far have had a nasty habit of petering out once survival was secured.

Most neutrals will feel that being nine points above the relegation zone at this stage is enough to lock up another top-flight season but they'll believe more points are still needed and anyone expecting a cosy surrender at Anfield may be in for a surprise.

Troy Deeney, for example, is such a peculiar player. Even his own family would question he has a true athlete's build yet on his day he can be as troublesome as any forward in the league.

The speed and skill of Richarlison on the wing may also be a problem. It's this exact combination of brawn and pace which undid Liverpool in their last game and Jurgen Klopp will be eager to nip that in the bud.

He may alternate again at full back with Joe Gomez returning. Others may feel it undermines Trent Alexander-Arnold's confidence after such a poor outing in his previous game but it's not like Gomez has done a lot wrong either.

Joel Matip may earn a recall after Dejan Lovren was subjected to brutal criticism yet the Cameroonian would hardly be a good physical match-up against Deeney. He may still get the nod because he offers more to Liverpool's general play, augmenting the usual Klopp plan of ensuring the opposition have more to worry about than focussing on their strengths.

The difference between Watford and Manchester United is of course all-round quality and the ability to snuff out Liverpool's threat in attack.

Mohamed Salah has now had his long-awaited, oft-predicted stumble. He was poor at Old Trafford, or well shackled depending on your allegiance, and how he reacts to adversity will be instructive for the rest of the season.

The Reds really need to get their game flowing again, as the race for the top four became tighter last week. All the top six sides won except Liverpool; Tottenham overtook them while Chelsea now sit four uncomfortable points behind in fifth place.

Their rivals for top four are playing in the FA Cup this weekend so it's a great opportunity for Liverpool to steal a march and throw the gauntlet down for the others to catch them.

Their rivals may say likewise when the Champions League quarterfinals take place, since all the other teams vying for second in the Premier League were knocked out of the tournament.

Liverpool's players wouldn't be human if they weren't excited about the draw on Friday and the prospects of getting in the ring with some of the finest footballers in the world and trying to prove their own worth.

Klopp will hopefully remind every single one of them that greatness in footballers is what they do year in year out. For a manager who seems to say "in this moment" every third sentence, he'll have to convey the bigger picture and qualification for next year's Champions League is just as important.

The level of opposition left in the quarterfinals suggests an ultimate Liverpool triumph is a little unlikely. Chelsea, Tottenham and United have given the Reds domestic problems all season yet were ultimately eliminated from Europe by Barcelona, Juventus and Sevilla respectively.

These are exciting times but the trick is not to behave like giddy schoolboys on their first date. The mark of a club as big as Liverpool is to be able to treat these big occasions as though they weren't that special.

Liverpool's first Champions League quarterfinal in nine years is in marked contrast to Barcelona's 11 in a row -- yet who last knocked the Catalonians out in the round of 16? Liverpool, when they were on their way to a second final in three years.

Losing at Old Trafford is not unusual. The Reds have been beaten 10 times in their last 12 visits, but it has an unhappy knack of triggering a negative reaction because players know it means so much to the supporters.

Klopp must ensure that setback lasts for just one week. Liverpool have come so far and done so well to get into a position that would have delighted most fans before the season began.

They can't afford to come off the rails now.