Venue – Vicarage Road, Watford
Referee – Michael Oliver
Date & Time – Saturday, February 29th @ 17:30
Current Odds – Watford 7/1, Draw 15/4, Liverpool 4/11
Four more wins. 79 points won, 12 more needed. After 30 years, we can almost taste it – the club’s 19th league title. It’s within touching distance. Saturday’s trip to Watford won’t be easy. We are everyone’s ‘cup final’ now, after all. Yet, that doesn’t seem to matter to Jurgen Klopp’s Red machine this season. Raise your game all you want. We’ll just raise ours more.
After losing at Anfield in his first game in charge of The Hornets, Nigel Pearson led Watford to four wins in their next five Premier League matches. However, that was the end of their good form and they still haven’t won since beating Bournemouth 3-0 on January 12th. Four losses and two draws in all competitions since. It doesn’t make for great reading for Watford fans. Any hopes of a Pearson-inspired ‘great escape’ and Premier League survival seem to have vanished into the ether in recent weeks.
Liverpool have won 26 of their 27 Premier League games this season. The Reds have taken 110 points from the last 114 on offer, winning 36 and drawing 2 of their last 38 fixtures from last season up until now.
They have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 12 league outings and have not conceded against Watford since the 3-3 draw at Vicarage Road in August 2017.
Watford Team News
Daryl Janmaat and Kiko Femenia are Watford’s only two injury concerns at the moment. Janmaat is out of contention for Saturday while Femenia could possibly make the matchday squad.
They have no players suspended for this game.
Nigel Pearson has been lining his Watford side out in a 4-2-3-1 shape since taking the reins back in mid-December. Pearson likes Troy Deeney to lead the line in attack with Gerard Deulofeu and Ismaila Sarr and/or Roberto Pereyra providing the creativity from the midfield.
Liverpool Team News
Jordan Henderson, Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne are all out due to injury. Henderson is expected to miss the next couple of weeks action at least.
James Milner faces a late fitness test having suffered a recurring injury earlier this week.
Liverpool have no players suspended for Saturday’s fixture.
Naby Keita started against West Ham on Monday night in place of Jordan Henderson. Keita’s performance was no worse than anyone else in the first half but the added impetus from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was clearly evident after he came on for the last half-hour against The Hammers.
Liverpool should be at full strength everywhere else on the pitch.
Watford XI (4-2-3-1) – Foster; Mariappa, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Hughes, Capoue; Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu; Deeney
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool beat Watford 2-0 at Anfield back in December as Nigel Pearson took his place in The Hornets’ dugout for the first time. Mohamed Salah scored both goals that day.
Last season at Vicarage Road, Liverpool won 3-0 thanks to goals from Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino.
WATFORD 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Any win will do and Saturday evening Liverpool will have to scrap for the three points. Vicarage Road will be bouncing as the European and World champions arrive into town. I think Watford will manage a goal at least. My hope is Salah, Firmino and Mané are in top form and put Nigel Pearson’s team to the sword at the other end.