Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Andre Marriner
Date & Time – Saturday, December 14th @ 12:30
Current Odds – Liverpool 2/11, Draw 13/2, Watford 11/1
It’s top against bottom in the early game this Saturday at Anfield. Liverpool have failed to win in just one of their 16 league games this season while Watford have managed to win just one of theirs. Will it be all change for The Hornets after the appointment of Nigel Pearson? Let’s hope it’s not an immediate upturn in form for the visitors at least.
Liverpool have won seven consecutive Premier League fixtures since drawing 1-1 at Old Trafford back in October. The Reds have also gone on to win their group in the Champions League, thus qualifying for the knockout stages.
Writing a section on Liverpool’s form this season has proved difficult. How exactly do you continue to describe the performance levels of possibility one of the greatest ever Liverpool teams to have existed? Jurgen Klopp is a genius and this squad he has assembled is one of the top groups of football players anywhere on the planet right now.
Watford’s only win in the Premier League this season came at Norwich just over a month ago. Since then, Quique Sanchez Flores has been dismissed after serving just over two and a half months in charge upon his return to Vicarage Road.
Nigel Pearson has been appointed and his first task is bringing this disjointed, underperforming team to Anfield.
Watford drew 0-0 against Crystal Palace last weekend with Pearson watching on from the stands. Before that, they had lost three in a row since that solitary win at Norwich City.
Liverpool Team News
Jurgen Klopp knows he is without Fabinho and Nathaniel Clyne until the new year at least. Joel Matip will also miss the Watford game as the former Cameroon international continues his recovery from a knee injury.
Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana are two more short-term injury concerns for The Reds. Both will face late fitness tests this week. Personally, I don’t think Lovren will be risked against Watford after being forced off through injury against Bournemouth and RB Salzburg within the last week.
Joe Gomez should start in central defence alongside Virgil van Dijk in Lovren’s absence.
In midfield, Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the likely trio with Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita given a well-earned rest after their performances in Austria during the week.
Up front, I think Klopp will stick with the first-choice attacking line of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané. After all, it is Liverpool’s last Premier League game until Boxing Day when they visit second-placed Leicester City. He can do plenty of rotating of that front line when Liverpool travel to Qatar next week for the Club World Cup tournament.
Watford Team News
Daryl Janmaat, Craig Dawson, Jose Holebas, Sebastian Prödl, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck are all out through injury for Watford.
Watford lined out in a 4-2-3-1 shape against Crystal Palace last weekend. While it’s unclear just how much influence Pearson would have had on that selection and formation, it’s likely he did have some input. Therefore, I think we can expect something similar from Pearson’s first official Watford selection this Saturday at Anfield.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Watford XI (4-2-3-1) – Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Doucoure, Capoue; Sarr, Pereyra, Deulofeu; Deeney
When they last met
Liverpool have won the last three games between the sides with an aggregate score of 13-0. Watford have won only once in their last 13 meetings with Liverpool and that was a 3-0 victory at Vicarage Road in the early months of Jurgen Klopp’s reign in charge of The Reds.
This fixture finished 5-0 to Liverpool last season with goals from Sadio Mané (x2), Divock Origi and Virgil van Dijk (x2) inflicting the damage.
LIVERPOOL 3 – 0 WATFORD
It’s hard to see anything other than a comfortable Liverpool win on Saturday. Nigel Pearson will improve Watford’s fortunes but this weekend will more than likely prove too soon for any real improvement among this group of players.