Premier League form: W-L-D-W-D-W
League position: Seventh
Last win: 1-0 at home vs. Hull City, October 29
On the road: Two wins, two draws and one defeat.
Started the season in a 4-3-3, but Walter Mazzarri has quickly switched to his preferred system, a 3-5-2. Midfield runners from deep provide power and numbers going forward, and if Isaac Success is fit to start he has lots of pace and a ton of unpredictability.
- Surging runners from midfield through the centre, which the Reds have struggled with previously. Etienne Capoue’s early-season goals have dried up, but the powerful drives from deep have continued and can pick up second balls, knock-downs and misplaced passes.
- Jose Holebas, the left wing-back, is a real source of trouble. Fast, direct and more than happy to shoot from outrageous angles and distances.
- Despite averaging only 3.5 shots on target per game, the Hornets have scored an average of 1.4 per goal—Troy Deeney can be dangerous, but hasn’t scored in three.
LFC can exploit…
- Get those centre-backs turned around. Runs in behind them will be extremely important and Watford‘s back three are not confident when facing their own goal, running back toward Heurelho Gomes.
- Watford have also conceded plenty off corners and other set plays this season, something Liverpool can relate to—and the Hornets concede the most fouls per game in the league.
- If Nordin Amrabat wins the battle for the right wing-back slot, he’ll be more inclined to surge and stay further forward than Daryl Janmaat.
- The back three has been rotated as Mazzarri attempts to find his best selection, so they aren’t an entirely cohesive unit.
- Big players, physical players…but Waford’s defensive seven aren’t always the most mobile. Liverpool’s fast passing and movement in the final third will once again be the best route to creating chances.
Valon Behrami is the most defensive-minded of Watford‘s midfielders, and he’ll be tasked with sitting deep, scrambling about trying to stop the Reds playing through the gaps and making big tackles. He can be wild at times, overly aggressive and rash, but he can also launch accurate passes from deep and lift the entire team with his determination.
For Liverpool, take your pick from any of the creative schemers who are always on the move, but Coutinho’s recent form has been unstoppable and he’s most likely to exploit gaps between the centre-backs on the side and the wing-backs.
Janmaat and Amrabat are fighting for the right-sided slot, while Roberto Pereyra has edged ahead of Adlene Guedioura in midfield of late. Up front it’s between Success (if fit) and Odion Ighalo to partner Deeney.
Possible XI: Gomes; Prodl, Britos, Kaboul; Janmaat, Pereyra, Behrami, Capoue, Holebas; Ighalo, Deeney.