Vicarage Road, London
Sunday; December 20, 2015
Liverpool travel to Vicarage Road for the first time since the 2006-07 season, having failed to win “winnable” fixtures away at Newcastle United and at home to West Bromwich Albion. Jurgen Klopp’s men have been prolific travelers though, and will be hoping for 3 points at the home of one of the in form teams of the Premier League in Watford.
Team News & Tactical Analysis
Watford is not just the most diverse team in the Premier League, but also among the Premier League’s in form teams. The Hornets have flown amid the hysteria surrounding Chelsea’s struggles and Leicester City’s hot streak. A team that was once expected to be relegated back to the Championship straightaway after promotion is now above Liverpool as they welcome the Reds to Vicarage Road.
Despite the impressive profile of players brought in during the summer transfer window, Watford are still the weaker team on paper. However, the Hornets compensate for a lack of technical brilliance in comparison to the big boys with pace and power, work rate on the wings as well as from the two strikers up front. Together with former Atletico Madrid and Valencia manager Quique Sanchez Flores, Watford have already made a strong case for themselves to stay ahead in the Premier League before it even hits the Christmas period.
Flores has a sizable squad to choose from at the start of the Christmas period, with no fresh injury concerns besides the long term absentees. Valon Behrami and Sebastian Prodl will both be available for selection after recovering from calf problems. Watford supporters may feel that their club is not getting enough credit for their work in the League thus far, but a victory at home over Liverpool could change that instantly.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1): Gomes (GK), Nyom, Britos, Cathcart, Ake, Abdi, Capoue, Watson, Jurado, Deeney (captain), Ighalo
Any hope Liverpool supporters may have had for clawing their way up the Premier League table, after the completion of the nightmare set of away fixtures at the start of the season, would have been hit hard by the Reds’ failure to win either of their games against Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion. The Reds have a fine opportunity to sneak into the Top 4 come the end of the season, thanks to Chelsea’s struggles, but will need to cut out the sloppy passing and lack of concentration that affected them during their two previous Premier League fixtures.
Liverpool’s injury situation is not as bad as it first was when Jurgen Klopp first joined the club two months ago, but the manager does have a few concerns nonetheless. Dejan Lovren has been improving after suffering a horrifying knee injury last weekend, while James Milner and Daniel Sturridge will miss the trip to Watford due to calf and knee problems respectively. Mamadou Sakho’s recovery from the knee injury that he suffered during Liverpool’s 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace has proven to be quite fortuitous; while the “Scouse Cafu” Jon Flanagan has finally returned to full training after more than a year of absence.
Jurgen Klopp will have a few key decisions to make — choosing between Benteke and Divock Origi, who was bright up front during his substitute appearance against West Brom, replacing James Milner in the starting eleven; and on how long to allow captain Jordan Henderson to play.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Mignolet (GK), Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Henderson (captain), Can, Firmino, Coutinho, Benteke
- Watford are 2nd in the Premier League table behind Leicester City, having won 4 out of the last 6 matches in the Premier League.
- Watford’s last home win over Liverpool was in 1986. Future Liverpool legend John Barnes scored in a 2-0 win at Vicarage Road.
- Watford have never won back-to-back home games in the Premier League.
- Watford have only conceded in three of their home league games this season, but they have lost on each of these occasions.
Player to watch out for
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool FC)
Liverpool made 2 of their 3 most expensive signings ever this summer alone, with the former Hoffenheim attacking midfielder costing upwards of GBP29m. A back injury suffered late in September may not have helped matters earlier this season, but Roberto Firmino has shown little by way of results during his short stay here thus far, save for when played out of position up front away at Chelsea and Manchester City. Jurgen Klopp is likely to show patience with Firmino, given how little he has played for the Reds thus far, but the Brazilian will be expected to play into form for his club in this upcoming fixture.
Watford 2 – 2 Liverpool FC
Blast from the past