Liverpool await Watford at Vicarage Road this evening as Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions-elect look to extend their advantage over Manchester City to 25 points.
The European champions won the reverse fixture in December 2-0 following a hard-fought victory during Nigel Pearson’s inaugural PL match for the Hornets.
Mohamed Salah bagged an impressive brace to secure the three points in a match that had proven to be much tougher than first anticipated.
With the return fixture set to be just as competitive as the Anfield affair with Watford scrapping for their lives at the lower region of the table, we analyse three players we believe will have the most significant impact on how the match will potentially unfold…
The FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year has been in inspiring form of late and will be fundamental to how Liverpool’s next PL affair will likely pan out.
Alisson has kept 10 clean sheets in his previous 12 league matches and has been an impenetrable figure since returning from a calf injury earlier this season.
In the big moments, the former Roma man has been there to bail his team out of trouble. There is no way that Liverpool’s ridiculous consistency levels will have corresponded the same jaw-dropping numbers the Reds have currently placed on the board if Alisson weren’t in the team.
Alisson’s greatest asset is his ability to make the difficult seem ordinary. His positioning is second-to-none and is so effective meaning he is always primed and positionally ahead of an attacker which has led to the Brazilian boasting the best save percentages numbers in the division.
With Troy Deeney likely to come up against his greatest counter-part Virgil van Dijk at Vicarage Road in the latest instalment between the two opponents it will actually be the Dutchman’s central defensive partner Joe Gomez who we believe should be watched with greater intrigue.
Deeney has made his admiration for Van Dijk well documented following the UEFA Player of the Year’s incredible rise since his £75m move from Southampton in 2018.
“I’ve said it many times, I hate him,” Deeney told BBC Radio 5. “I hate going up against him.
“He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting, a good head of hair.”
Because of this, it is highly likely a striker as streetwise and intelligent as Deeney won’t fancy his chances against Liverpool’s No.4 and will turn his attention to the less-experienced and commanding Gomez.
The England international has thrived since being reinstated in the team back in December but the prospect of come under the cosh of a player such a Deeney is a huge learning proposition for any young talent.
Gomez’s strengths are his athleticism and his recovery pace. The former Charlton man isn’t notoriously known for his brute strength nor robustness. Gomez is a calm-and-collected figure and it will be interesting to see how he poses against an opponent who will look to push his buttons.
The Brazilian powerhouse has been a much-needed addition following his return from an ankle injury that has kept him out of action for the previous three months.
However, we are s still yet to see Fabinho rediscover the same devestating levels he was operating at prior to his injury.
Indeed it will take time for the former Monaco man to get back up to speed and to build up a similar level of momentum that propelled him to another level following on from the Champions League success last season.
With Jordan Henderson out for the next couple of weeks, Liverpool will need that commanding figure in the midfield to maintain the team’s unwavering high standards.
Fabinho recently challenged himself with filling the gargantuan void that comes with Henderson’s absence.
Speaking with Liverpool’s official website, he said: “Now I need to try to help the team out with this kind of leadership; of course, we have different personalities, but hopefully I can help a bit in this respect.
“Unfortunately, it was Hendo that got injured this time around, but it is an opportunity for other players to show they’re up to the task, that they can come in and make a difference as well.”