Liverpool could find themselves looking up from fifth place by the time they travel down to Watford on Monday, with the temperature only getting higher in this unique battle for a top four spot.
Match: Watford vs Liverpool
Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: Craig Pawson
Date: Monday 1st May
Time: 20:00 BST
It turned out to be simply too good to be true for Liverpool, with the momentum gained by crucial away wins over Stoke City and West Brom shattered by the inevitable yet disappointing home defeat against Crystal Palace on Sunday. With others in action elsewhere it was a big chance for Liverpool to further nail down a Champions League place, and they failed.
Now, after Arsenal won in midweek and Manchester United drew at Manchester City, the Reds no longer have their destiny in their own hands. United and City both have a game in hand over Jürgen Klopp’s men and play before them this weekend, meaning Liverpool could be down to fifth when they kick-off on May Day.
Watford are comfortably safe and sit in the glorious mid-table position of 10th, right on the 40 point mark. That’s been represented by their inconsistent form of late, winning three and losing three of their last six games.
They lost the most recent one, beaten 2-0 at a ground where Liverpool suffered a similar loss earlier in the season, losing at Hull City. Liverpool loanee Lazar Markovic was amongst the scorers. Liverpool have been hit and miss against the smaller sides so a draw would probably be a good bet at Bet365 for this game.
In a week where it was revealed Jordan Henderson may well remain out until the end of the season, there was some good news for Liverpool. Adam Lallana is back in first team training whilst Daniel Sturridge has returned from his hip problem earlier than expected. Both should make the bench for Monday. Sadio Mane remains sidelined.
Watford do have some injury troubles of their own with Ben Watson and Younes Kaboul ruled out. Roberto Pereyra is a doubt, his absence would certainly benefit the Reds, whilst Craig Cathcart requires a late fitness test.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Lucas, Wijnaldum, Can; Firmino, Coutinho, Origi.
Predicted Watford XI: Gomes; Janmaat, Prodl, Holebas; Cleverley, Doucoure, Capoue; Success, Niang, Deeney.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
One of Liverpool’s best performances in an Autumn full of them was the 6-1 home win over Watford, the Reds finding themselves 3-0 up before half-time, extending the lead to 5-0 and then 5-1 before Gini Wijnaldum rattled home his first for the club in the last minute.
Last season’s trip to Vicarage Road wasn’t so good though, Adam Bogdan suffering a goalkeeping nightmare as the Reds lost 3-0.
PREDICTION: WATFORD 1-1 LIVERPOOL
I was sceptical about Stoke and West Brom, we won. I was confident(ish) for Palace, we lost. A win on Monday, whatever happens before it, would be huge for Liverpool as they look to put the message out that they won’t be bottling this top four race, and they won’t be letting anyone pull away. However, given the FA Cup semi against Villa, title run in, Champions League race in 14-15, Europa League final, you can forgive me for worrying that we might see more of the same this time around.