The next step in Liverpool’s bid for Champions League football comes in the form of a trip to Vicarage Road tonight to take on an inconsistent-at-best Watford. Jack Hallows has all the stats that you need to know ahead of the fixture.
Let’s be real, this fixture last season was an absolute shit show.
Adam Bogdan was in goal and forgot how to catch a football, Martin Skrtel performed as if he was playing on an ice rink while our attack had less bite than a new born child.
In fact, it’s probably fair to say that sad December afternoon was up there as a candidate for Klopp’s worst as Liverpool manager so far. Let’s hope he and the players are out for revenge.
Walter Mazzarri has a number of injury frustrations with the absences of Younes Kaboul, Mauro Zarate, Craig Cathcart and former Juventus man Roberto Pereyra all huge blows for the home side.
Troy Deeney, however, is one man who’ll be raring to go having heavily voiced his frustrations after his side’s loss to 10-man Hull last weekend, once again declaring he wants his men ready for ‘war.’
The Reds are likely to be buoyed by the return of Adam Lallana, Ragnar Klavan and Daniel Sturridge to the match day squad after all three were seen in training during the week.
Lallana is the only one that will be handed a start with Lovren, Matip and Origi set to keep their places. Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mané and Danny Ings remain sidelined for the long-term.
Form Guide: Premier League (Most recent first)
Watford – LWLWWL
Watford’s last six games have seen them take nine points from an available 18, winning and losing three matches in that time.
Interestingly, the home side’s three wins have all seen them keep clean sheets while all three of their losses have seen them fail to score.
This – along with the fact that they’ve featured in an entire lack of draws in that time – points to the hosts being a side that is either entirely invested in a game or entirely not bothered.
The home side’s recent lack of goals – 10 in their last 10 league games – is going to be something that Liverpool will have to exploit and it’s likely if they can nick an early goal, the Hornets heads will drop and their attacking threat will subside.
Liverpool – LWWDWD
It’s been a painful few weeks to be a Liverpool supporter and it seems that every time we take two steps towards Champions League football, we take another one backwards.
10 points from four fixtures against Manchester City, Everton, Stoke and West Brom is a sublime return – especially given only one of these was a home match – but one point from home matches at Bournemouth and Palace just serve to highlight Liverpool’s Jekyll and Hyde nature.
However, positively for Liverpool, they’ve shown a real steel on the road of late, going unbeaten in their last three away matches, scoring four and conceding just once. Surprisingly, both of their clean sheets in their last 10 matches have come away from home.
Last time these two met, Liverpool ran riot in one of their most impressive attacking displays since Luis Suarez left the club. Goals from Coutinho, Manè, Firmino and Wijnaldum saw the Reds run out 6-1 victors and if a further slice of luck was on Daniel Sturridge’s side, it could well have been 8.
Positively, last season’s frustrations in this fixture look to be an outlier with Liverpool having won five of the last six games between the two sides and dominating the overall scoreline of 16-7. The Reds have also dominated average possession by a 62% – 38% margin and average 10 shots on goal to Watford’s five in games between the two.
In-form forward Roberto Firmino will be a key man to watch for Reds supporters having scored two and assisted two in his three games against the Hornets.
It’s a hard one to predict really because it depends on not only Liverpool’s mood but also which Watford shows up on the day.
If the Reds can get in behind the hosts’ full backs and create quality space and chances around the box, then they’re very likely to score but attack cannot be the only focus.
Matip and Lovren will have to work hard to out-muscle Deeney as keeping him quiet and frustrated is going to be key to coming away with three points. I’m a positive man, however, and I believe Liverpool not only should win this but will.
Watford FC 1 – 2 Liverpool FC.