Liverpool can take one step closer to winning the Premier League title when they take on Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Gameweek 28 of the 2019-20 Premier League season is underway and the table toppers will be in action on Saturday. Liverpool will have the chance to inch closer to winning their first top-flight title in 30 years when they lock horns with Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening.
Watford have endured a nightmarish season, having already sacked two different managers. The start to life under Nigel Pearson was fantastic, but the Hornets have faced the brutal reality in recent weeks, having failed to win each of their last five matches, although they still remain a mere point away from safety.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have been the polar opposite of their hosts, having not been beaten all season long in the Premier League. The Reds, however, have tailed off slightly since returning from the winter break, although they have still managed to win each of their two league games in this period, including the come-from-behind 3-2 win over West Ham United earlier this week.
The reverse fixture, played back in December last year, saw Liverpool beat a resilient Watford 2-0, in what was the Hornets’ first game under Pearson. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Nigel Pearson barely has any injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Liverpool. On Saturday, the Watford boss will be without just one first-team player, with Daryl Janmaat out with a knee injury.
The good news is that Ismaila Sarr ought to be ready to start a game for the first time in over a month, having appeared off the bench against Manchester United last week. Sarr ought to replace Roberto Pereyra on the right side of the Watford attack.
On the opposite flank, Gerard Deulofeu is a certain starter. The Spaniard needs to step up after seeing his levels drop of late. Abdoulaye Doucoure, meanwhile, will be the danger man for Watford with his ghosting runs into the Liverpool box.
Doucoure will play off Watford captain Troy Deeney, who will be the focal point of the attacking unit. Behind Doucoure, Will Hughes and Etienne Capoue will be stationed in the midfield double pivot, with the duo looking to contain and control the flow of passes towards the Liverpool attackers.
At the back, Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele will pair up at the heart of the Watford defence. The duo will be better served to not be pulled out of position by Roberto Firmino, who will in turn look to create space for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Those keeping a check on Mane and Salah will be Kiko Femenia and Adam Masina, with Ben Foster a certain starter in goal. The former Manchester United goalkeeper will likely be a busy man against Liverpool and will be hoping to avoid the kind of errors he made last weekend against the Red Devils.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Capoue, Hughes; Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu; Deeney
Jurgen Klopp does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to the English capital to take on Watford. On Saturday, the Liverpool manager will continue to be bereft of the services of four first-team players.
James Milner missed last time out due to a hip injury and is still on the sidelines. Like Milner, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is out till early March, while Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne are the other injury-enforced absentees for the Reds.
The FA Cup tie against Chelsea is up next for Liverpool and with Klopp expected to field a second string side once again in such a contest, changes are likely to be kept to a bare minimum. Alisson Becker is the obvious choice between the sticks, with Adrian being the Brazilian’s deputy.
The backline will see no changes whatsoever, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez once again partnering up at the heart of the Liverpool defence, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson will be the full-back pairing who will shoulder much of the creative burden for the Reds.
Naby Keita did not manage to make much of an impression against West Ham United and will likely drop out of the starting lineup. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could get a chance to prove his credentials in Keita’s stead. The English international will provide company to Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum in the middle of the park.
Upfront, there is no looking past the fantastic trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. And, as iterated earlier, Firmino will look to harry the Watford centre-backs and suck them out of position, allowing Salah and Mane to cut in and look for scoring opportunities in the central areas.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
- Liverpool are unbeaten in the last eight league meetings with Watford (W7 D1), winning the last four by an aggregate scoreline of 15-0.
- Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals against Watford than they have versus any other side in the competition (27 in nine games).
- Since beating Liverpool 2-1 on the final day of the 1982-83 season, Watford have lost 15 of their 16 top-flight matches against sides at the top of the table (D1), including each of the last 13 in a row.
- Liverpool have won their last 18 Premier League games; a win on Saturday would set a new record for most consecutive victories in English top-flight history.
- Mohamed Salah has scored eight goals in his five Premier League games against Watford, netting both goals in the Reds’ 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture this season.
Player to Watch
It has been a rather blow-hot-blow-cold type of a season for Salah. That he has still managed to be Liverpool’s top scorer this term speaks volumes of the kind of standards the Egyptian has set and continues to set in the red of the Merseyside club.
Up next, are Watford, who happen to be one of Salah’s favourite opponents. With eight goals in five previous Premier League outings against the Hornets, Salah has tormented Saturday’s opponents to no end. And, he will be eager to extend that record in Liverpool’s latest Premier League fixture, as he resumes his tilt to win the Golden Boot for the third successive year.
Jamie Vardy was missing in action for Leicester City against Norwich City on Friday, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergio Aguero do not having a Premier League game to play this week, meaning Salah will have the perfect chance to reach the top rung in the Golden Boot leaderboard.
Watford 0-3 Liverpool
Since the end of their winter break, it has seemed as if the first Premier League defeat of the season is getting close for Liverpool. However, the Reds have continued being the “mentality monsters” that they are, somehow getting a win out of the bag, against both Norwich City and West Ham United.
Watford, on the other hand, have been quite poor for well over a month now and are unlikely to put up much of a resistance against Liverpool. At best, the Hornets could be stubborn at the back and delay the inevitable. However, the incredible gulf in quality between the two sides should ensure a rather straightforward win for Jurgen Klopp & co.
The Hard Tackle predicts Liverpool to beat Watford 3-0, with the result taking them within three games of winning the Premier League title. With rumours that Liverpool’s coronation might not happen, the Reds will have done everything in their powers to ensure they become champions.