Liverpool host Watford at Anfield in the early kickoff on Saturday. The hosts can afford nothing less than three points in the title race whilst Watford sits three points from safety having played more matches than the team above them. The Reds have won nine league matches in a row and won the reverse fixture 5-0 in October.
The Reds are in sensational form with 15 wins and one loss in their last 16 matches in all competitions. The only defeat was a complacent 1-0 home reverse to Inter Milan where they progressed on aggregate anyway.
In the league, it’s nine wins in a row since a surprise three winless streak match at the turn of the year. Those nine successive victories have seen seven clean sheets. Klopp’s team may not have been at their free-flowing best of late but they the job done, beating West Ham 1-0, winning 2-0 at Brighton, and then winning 2-0 at Arsenal after seeing out a strong opposition first half.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool saw Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita withdraw from international duty with hamstring and knee injuries. Both players should be close to a return for this match or will otherwise be back for the crucial Man City clash after that. Joe Gomez would deputize at right-back if needed.
Roberto Firmino and Thiago Alcantara were not selected by their countries and will be fresh to start after a two-week break. Luis Diaz and Fabinho are prime candidates for a breather after playing in South America in midweek. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane should both be able to start after facing off on Tuesday for a World Cup place.
Nothing less than a win will do. Liverpool will attack and look to win by a good margin, with goal difference a possible factor in the title race.
It is eight days until they play again so all focus can be on this fixture before attention turns to the possible title decider at Man City next Sunday.
Roy Hodgson has overseen nine matches since he arrived in Hertfordshire. After a solid 0-0 draw at Burnley to start off, Watford lost five of the next seven matches with the only victory being a 1-0 success at Aston Villa. The side have netted just six goals since the veteran coach took over as he has focused on trying to solidify the backline.
After a poor 4-1 home loss to Crystal Palace, the Hornets fought hard to draw 0-0 at Man Utd even if they were dominated throughout. A 3-2 home loss to Watford and a very poor 4-0 defeat at Wolves followed. The knives were out for Hodgson after that but he pulled off a win last time out. Watford won 2-1 at Southampton as Cucho Hernández netted a brace in the first half.
Watford Team News
Right-back Jeremy Ngakia should be fit to return and so should veteran central defender Nicolas Nkoulou. Watford will hope that Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaila Sarr return unscathed from World Cup qualifiers.
Joao Pedro and Cucho Hernández will hope to keep their spots in the front three regardless. Josh King netted a hattrick for Norway against Armenia in midweek and will hope for a recall to the XI for this one.
The Hornets look certain to play very defensively in this match. Hodgson likes a compact 4-3-3 shape with pace in the attack to lead counters. They got a 0-0 draw at Man Utd so could prove an obdurate team to break down.
Watford needs something as Leeds are now seven points clear of them so only Everton are within their immediate sights. They are three points behind the Toffees having played two more matches and boasting a worse goal difference.
Liverpool have won 9 PL matches in a row
Liverpool have kept 6 clean sheets in their last 7 PL matches
LFC have scored 2+ goals in 10 of their last 12 home PL matches
Watford have lost 5 of their last 8 PL matches
Watford have conceded 12 goals in their last 5 PL matches
Watford have lost their last 7 home matches against Liverpool (all comps)
Watford have conceded 2+ goals in their last 6 matches at Anfield
This looks likely to be a home victory. The Reds have plenty of fresh players and depth in attack to continue the scoring in the second half. A win on the handicap looks a good bet, as does a victory to nil. Salah could be a good tip to bounce back from World Cup qualification disappointment with a goal or two.
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