Liverpool face Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon, with Man City‘s relentless form making victory essential.
Watford vs. Liverpool
Saturday, November 24, 2018 — 3pm (GMT)
Referee: Jon Moss
The Reds haven’t dropped a point against anyone outside of the ‘big six’ this season. The 2-0 win over Fulham a fortnight ago was more routine than anything, but it never felt in doubt, which is such an encouraging sign.
Many of Liverpool’s away matches against the so-called lesser teams have been tricky ones so far in 2018/19, with Crystal Palace, Leicester and Huddersfield Town all making life tough for them.
This pattern could well continue this weekend, as Jurgen Klopp‘s side take on a Watford outfit with European aspirations.
The Hornets sit seventh in the Premier League on merit, with Javi Gracia turning them into an effective unit with match-winners in their ranks.
Vicarage Road is not an easy place to go when the hosts’ tails are up, so the key to Liverpool getting the win is silencing the home crowd early and being ruthless.
It may well be a cliche, but it is games such as these that show whether a team are legitimate title challengers or not.
Three points would be another significant step in the right direction, but with players returning from international duty at different times this week, the performance might not be too explosive.
It’s good to be back.
This fixture last season: Watford 3-3 Liverpool
Jordan Henderson is fit for the game, despite picking up a knock on international duty, but Adam Lallana is nursing a minor issue that will see him miss out.
It means Liverpool’s only definite absentees are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster, both of whom have been out for most of the year.
Trent Alexander-Arnold found form for England, scoring his first-ever senior international goal against the USA, and he will hope to start at right-back.
Klopp could choose to play Joe Gomez there and bring in Dejan Lovren at centre-back, however, making the Reds more robust in the process.
Naby Keita is battling to make his first Premier League start since the win over Tottenham on September 15, but he faces stiff competition from Fabinho, Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are all fit, but the scintillating form of Xherdan Shaqiri gives Klopp a selection headache.
Does the manager start the Swiss in place of one of the front three, or does he play all four in a 4-2-3-1 formation?
Watford are without Daryl Janmaat, Sebastian Prodl and Tom Cleverley, while key man Will Hughes is a doubt.
Adalberto Penaranda was granted a UK work permit this week and could make his debut. That seems unlikely, though.
Last 5 away to Watford (All Competitions)
Drew 3-3 – August 2017 (Okaka, Doukoure, Britos; Mane, Firmino pen, Salah)
Won 1-0 – May 2017 (Can)
Lost 3-0 – December 2015 (Ake, Ighalo x2)
Won 3-0 – January 2007 (Bellamy, Crouch x2)
Won 1-0 – January 2005 (Gerrard)
Away fans’ pubs: The Oddfellows. It’s a decent pub with a garden, often does a BBQ and is just a few minutes’ walk from the ground.
One piece of advice for visiting fans: If you’re driving, don’t get caught out parking near the ground. It’s permit only everywhere.
If you’re not, don’t get caught out by the decision not to serve alcohol in the away end. If you want a beer or two, get them down you before entering the ground.
Did You Know?
Only a win on Saturday will see Liverpool register their best-ever start to a Premier League season after 13 matches.
Rafa Benitez’s class of 2008/09 beat Bolton Wanderers to reach 32 points at that stage, while victory this weekend would put Klopp’s men on 33.
It highlights just how well the Reds are doing.
Watford – Last five results (all competitions)
Drew 1-1 vs. Southampton
Won 3-0 vs. Huddersfield
Won 2-0 vs. Wolves
Lost 4-0 vs. Bournemouth
Lost 2-0 vs. Arsenal
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions
Won 2-0 vs. Fulham
Lost 2-0 vs. Red Star Belgrade
Drew 1-1 vs. Arsenal
Won 4-1 vs. Cardiff
Won 4-0 vs. Red Star Belgrade
Speaking in his press conference on Friday, Klopp was full of praise for what he believes is an impressive Watford side:
“Really good. They’ve won six games from 12 already and drawn two – 20 points.
“Good football, lively, organised and a good game plan, and they have quick wingers and good central midfielders.
“I watched the game against Tottenham (the 2-1 win in September) and it was already good. The set-pieces that they used that day were good.
“They are the best Watford team since I’ve been here – it’s a really interesting project.”
TV & Live Blog Info
The match is a Saturday 3pm (GMT) kick-off, which means it cannot be shown on UK television.
This is Anfield’s matchday live blog will be running from 2:15pm, though, with Chris Williams bringing you minute-by-minute updates.
Come and join us!