Liverpool will be hoping to keep their unbeaten record in the Premier League intact when they welcome Watford to Anfield on Saturday.
Premier League football resumes this weekend with Gameweek 17 of the 2019-20 season. Table toppers Liverpool will be in action first up on Saturday, when they play hosts to bottom feeders Watford at Anfield, aiming to head into next week’s Club World Cup with their unbeaten domestic record intact.
The Liverpool juggernaut just does not stop in the English top-flight. With 46 of the possible 48 points on the board, the Reds look well on course to win the elusive Premier League table. The run of stellar results has also earned Jurgen Klopp a new deal with the Merseyside club, who have tied the manager down to a contract till 2024.
Watford, on the other hand, have been the polar opposite of Liverpool this season. The Hornets have managed just one win all season, a terrible start to the season that has already cost Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores their jobs. Nigel Pearson becomes their third head coach and the club will now hope to scale themselves out from the pit of the relegation zone.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 5-0 thrashing of Watford, with Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Divock Origi on target for Liverpool. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp has a fresh injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Watford. On Saturday, the Liverpool boss will be without four first-team players, with Dejan Lovren missing out due to a muscle injury.
For the second successive game, Lovren hobbled off the pitch with an injury and this time around, the Croat does not stand a chance of being fit and available. With Joel Matip also sidelined with a knee injury, Klopp is down to his bare bones as far as defensive selections are concerned.
To that end, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk pick themselves in the Liverpool defensive line. Alisson Becker will take his place between the sticks, still looking for his first clean sheet at Anfield this season.
Fabinho is the other major absentee for Liverpool, and Jordan Henderson is likely to continue in his stead at the base of the three-man midfield unit. Naby Keita was impressive yet again when the Reds took on Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League this week and the Guinean should start a third successive game against Watford.
The third spot in the middle of the park ought to be taken up by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Georginio Wijnaldum being handed a rest. Upfront, there is a sense that Mohamed Salah might be rested. However, Klopp might stick with his first-choice trio, meaning Salah starts alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Nigel Pearson does not have it easy in his first match in-charge of Watford. Against Liverpool on Saturday, the newly appointed Hornets boss could be without as many as seven first-team players, with Jose Holebas (ankle), Sebastian Prodl (knee), Tom Cleverley (heel) and Danny Welbeck (hamstring) being certain absentees.
The likes of Daryl Janmaat (knee), Adam Masina (match fitness) and Roberto Pereyra (knock) face late fitness tests to determine their availability. The good news, though, is that Craig Dawson is fit and ready to return to action.
Dawson, however, is unlikely to start, with Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele expected partner up at the heart of the Watford defence. Janmaat is unlikely to be risked, meaning Kiko Femenia ought to start as the right-back against Liverpool. But, with Holebas sidelined with his injury, Masina could be deployed on the left flank.
Pearson is expected to line his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue combining in the midfield double pivot. Pereyra ought reprise the no. 10 role if he is passed fit.
Pearson’s preference of formation means Gerard Deulofeu could move out to the left side of the Watford attack. Ismaila Sarr should start on the right wing, with Troy Deeney leading the line against Liverpool.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Doucoure, Capoue; Sarr, Pereyra, Deulofeu, Deeney
1. Both Teams to Score – NO @ 1.75
1. Sadio Mane to score 2 or more @ 3.75
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games against Watford, outscoring the Hornets 25-4 (W6 D1).
- Liverpool could become the first side in top-flight history to beat the same team at home by a five-goal margin in four straight seasons. The Reds have twice won 5-0 and also recorded a 6-1 win over the past three campaigns.
- Watford have won just one of their last 20 Premier League games dating back to last season (D7 L12).
- All five of Watford’s last permanent managers drew their opening Premier League match – including both of Quique Sanchez Flores’s spells.
- Mohamed Salah has scored six goals in four league games against Watford, while Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have each scored five goals and provided three assists in their five and six appearances, respectively, against the Hornets.
Player to Watch
The 2019-20 season has been a trial by fire for Watford, hardly helped by the fact that captain Troy Deeney has struggled with injury troubles. Now back to full fitness, the veteran striker needs to raise his hand and start delivering the goods.
Considering the Hornets have found the back of the net just once in their last four Premier League games, they really are in need of some desperation. And, against the best team in the division, it is the captain’s performance that will come under severe scrutiny. Time for Deeney to step up.
Liverpool 3-0 Watford
Managerial changes often bring the best out of stuttering sides, meaning Liverpool need to be wary despite being almost unbeatable this season. The Reds, though, have made winning a habit, getting all three points any which way. What also helps is that they are finally starting to address some of their defensive woes as well.
Having kept a clean sheet in each of their last two games, the hosts will be desperate to get the proverbial monkey off their back by grabbing a first shut-out at Anfield this season. And so, even though the boost of having a new manager in the hotseat could spur Watford on, Liverpool should be fairly comfortable. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for Jurgen Klopp & co.