Liverpool will go head to head against Watford on Saturday, as the Premier League returns to action after the two-week international break.
Liverpool return to Premier League action this weekend, as they lock horns with Javi Gracia’s high-flying Watford at the Vicarage Road in matchweek 13.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have made a sensational start to the 2018-19 Premier League campaign and currently occupy the second spot in the standings after twelve games, two points behind leaders Manchester City. The Reds are unbeaten in the league (W9, D3) and come into the game on the back of a 2-0 win over Fulham prior to the international break.
Liverpool have won just one of their last three fixtures across all competitions, however, and will be keen on avoiding any hiccups at the Vicarage Road on Saturday, as they look to keep up the pace with Manchester City.
Watford have been a revelation under Javi Gracia this time out and are seated seventh in the Premier League table, with twenty points from twelve encounters (W6, D2, L4). However, the Hornets are without a win in their last two matches, having been beaten by Newcastle United, before being held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton just before the international window.
Watford haven’t won a game in close to three years against Liverpool and Gracia will be hoping to break that streak this weekend and climb up the ladder, with sixth-placed Bournemouth scheduled to take on Arsenal on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
The home team will continue to be without the services of midfielder Tom Cleverley and right-back Daryl Janmaat, as they continue to recover from their injuries. Gracia has been boosted by the return of midfielder Etienne Capoue though, who was suspended for the last game, while Will Hughes and Sebastian Prodl have been passed fit as well.
Venezuelan forward Adalberto Penaranda was granted a UK work permit earlier this week and could be in line for a debut, two years after joining the club. Watford will continue to line up in the 4-2-2-2 formation that seems to be working wonders for them this season.
In goal, summer signing Ben Foster is a guaranteed starter for the Hornets and will be protected by a back four comprising of Kiko Femenia and Jose Holebas as the full-backs, with Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele at the heart of the defence.
Abdoulaye Doucoure is ever-present in the middle of the park for Watford and will feature from the get-go once again. He will be partnered by Capoue, who is back from suspension, in the deep midfield role, with Nathaniel Chalobah making way. Leading goalscorer Roberto Pereyra will take his place alongside Will Hughes in the attacking midfield slots for the home team.
Isaac Success and Gerard Deulofeu have been preferred at the top recently, but Gracia is likely to go for the experienced Troy Deeney for the Liverpool game, with Success likely to drop out.
Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucoure, Capoue; Hughes, Pereyra; Deeney, Deulofeu
Club captain Jordan Henderson is fit again, having returned prematurely from international duty with England with an injury. However, fellow Englishman Adam Lallana has been ruled out by Klopp, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains a long-term absentee for the Reds.
Liverpool are likely to set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation that Klopp seems to be favouring in recent games. Brazilian international Alisson Becker is a definite starter under the woodwork for the Reds. Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to start at right-back, with Andrew Robertson featuring on the opposite side. Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk will resume their partnership at the centre of the defence.
James Milner is likely to start in the middle of the park ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum, as the veteran wasn’t involved during the international break. He is likely to be paired up with summer signing Fabinho, who did not get any minutes for Brazil in the last fortnight.
Xherdan Shaqiri was on the scoresheet against Fulham last time out and should feature out on the right flank, with Sadio Mane, who recently penned a new contract with the Reds, set to continue out on the left. Brazilian attacker Roberto Firmino will operate in the No.10 role, with star man Mohamed Salah spearheading the attack for the visiting team.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Fabinho; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mane; Salah
- Since beating them 3-0 in December 2015, Watford are winless in their last five Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D1 L4), shipping 17 goals in that time.
- In all competitions, Liverpool have won nine of their last 11 meetings with Watford (D1 L1), keeping a clean sheet in seven of those victories.
- Watford have won five of their last seven Premier League home games, losing the other two against Manchester United and Bournemouth.
- Liverpool are looking to remain unbeaten in their opening 13 matches to a Premier League season for the first time since 2007-08.
1. Liverpool to win @ 1.57
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.75
3. Under 3.5 Cards @ 1.57
1. Both Teams to Score in 2nd Half – YES @ 3.25
Player to Watch
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
The Premier League Golden Boot winner from the last campaign has scored six times in 12 league games this time out and has set up four more as well. Salah comes into the game having found the back of the net five times in his last six appearances across all competitions, including a strike against Fulham before the international break.
The 26-year-old, along with Roberto Firmino, is Liverpool’s joint-highest goalscorer in Premier League under Klopp (38 goals). He has been directly involved in six goals in his two Premier League outings against Watford (5 goals, 1 assist). He will once again the Reds biggest threat in attack, when they take the field against Vicarage Road this weekend.
Watford 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool’s away form has been a bit dodgy of late, as they have won just one of their last five games on the road across all competitions and have failed to score more than one goal on any of those occasions. And given Watford’s impressive start to the campaign, Saturday’s fixture can be a potential banana skin for the Reds.
However, the Reds have shown the mettle and the toughness needed to scrape out victories when not at the top of their game. And, as a result, we at The Hard Tackle expect Jurgen Klopp’s men to come away with a narrow win against the Hornets this weekend.