The relentless run-in starts here, 13 days after Liverpool last took to the field and a Watford side battling for their survival in the top-flight awaits at Anfield.
Liverpool vs. Watford
Premier League (30) | Anfield
Saturday, April 2, 2022 | 12.30pm (BST)
The international break is over, at last, and now the season kicks into overdrive and it starts with Watford and a chance to, at least temporarily, move to the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool meets a side fighting for their safety under Roy Hodgson and a further nail in their coffin will move the Reds one step closer to their objective in one of three competitions remaining.
Here are 10 things to know ahead of the Hornets’ visit.
1. Watford woes
It’s been far from an ideal return to the Premier League for Watford, with 22 points after 29 games seeing them occupy 18th position with relegation looming large.
With Hodgson at the helm, they’ve now had three managers oversee the club this season alone after he replaced Claudio Ranieri and the former Leicester boss took over from Xisco Munoz.
A win at Southampton before the international break injected a dose of hope after one point in four games prior to their trip to the south coast, but Liverpool is another challenge all in itself.
2. Hornets happier on the road
While it’s been far from an enjoyable season, Liverpool will be aware of Watford‘s record on the road – with the Hornets enjoying their best results away from Vicarage Road.
Of the 22 points they have collected, 15 of those have come on the road – an away record that is bested by only 11 teams in the Premier League.
While a list including Southampton, Man United, Aston Villa, Burnley, Newcastle, Everton and Norwich is not a formidable one, it acts as a warning as Liverpool can not afford to be complacent.
3. Potential Watford XI
“Every time you play a team like Liverpool away from home you know the odds are stacked against you,” Hodgson said in his pre-match press conference.
But with nothing to lose as the points are assumed to be heading in one direction, Watford pose as another opponent to be wary of.
Jeremy Ngakia and defender Nicolas Nkoulou are set to be available for Hodgson and there will also need to be a decision made over Ismaila Sarr after he returned from injury for Senegal during the break.
But after their success against the Saints last time out, it could be that only one change is made with the return of Sarr, who Liverpool have been previously linked with.
Possible Watford XI: Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Samir, Kamara; Louza, Sissoko, Kucka; Hernandez, Sarr, Dennis
4. Any Reds to miss out?
Amazingly, Klopp has nearly a full squad at his beck and call with only Naby Keita having a question mark over his ability to partake in full training on Friday.
He is the only potential absentee from the squad due to injury as Trent Alexander-Arnold is fit to train with his teammates on the eve of the clash.
While his chances to face Watford a “tight,” there is still a slight possibility after making a full recovery from his hamstring injury.
It’s a significant boost with Liverpool now able to weigh up what is best for the short and medium-term, with the manager not lacking any options as the relentless run-in gets underway.
5. How could Liverpool lineup?
With only real doubts over Keita’s chances, Klopp has options aplenty and will need to weigh up whether it is the time to select Alexander-Arnold or wait for the trip to Benfica.
It is likely he opts for the latter, meaning Joe Gomez could get a valuable run out, albeit at right-back, while Andy Robertson is fit to return after missing the Reds’ last game due to Covid.
The manager did suggest he’s after “fresh” legs following the international break and that could give Roberto Firmino another outing, with Thiago also primed to play a key role in midfield.
Predicted Reds XI: Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Firmino
6. Early bird gets the worm
The Reds have played three games in the early 12.30pm Saturday kickoff this season, against Brighton, Burnley and Watford – all of which have ended in a victory for Klopp’s side.
Adding to that, the Reds have not conceded in that time either, having amassed an aggregate score of 9-0, with the reverse fixture against the Hornets responsible for five of those goals.
We’ll definitely take a four from four for another positive start to the weekend!
7. Shout and sing, or stay at home!
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp urged supporters to make it the best atmosphere ever in the early Saturday kick-off, with a simple but strong message:
“What we need for this game is the best 12.30pm atmosphere ever.
“Not nervous, not whatever, not like this tense you cannot breathe.
“If you cannot shout and sing or whatever, stay at home and give your ticket to somebody else, please. Really, we need you with all we have.
“The boys came back from all over the world, played completely different systems again, we have this one session today where we can remind them of what we actually do, because with their national teams they obviously do it completely different.
“And then we go against a very well-organised Watford team. We need each voice for that.”
8. Did you know?
With fans inside Anfield, Liverpool have not been on the losing side in their last 73 top-flight matches – if anything exemplified the power of Anfield…
The last time a crowd witnessed a league defeat on home soil was back in April 2017, against Crystal Palace in a 2-1 loss.
It echoes the importance of the fans that Klopp urged to be at their best, with his side needing every tool in their arsenal to make sure there is more tangible success come May.
9. Attwell at Anfield…
Stuart Attwell is to officiate at Anfield this weekend and he’s not been short of controversy when it involves the Reds.
From awarding a penalty against Liverpool at Brighton last season to overlooking a clear red card in the VAR booth for the challenge on Diaz at the Amex only weeks ago, he’s not a fan favourite.
This is his fourth Liverpool game as the referee this season following on from the trip to Brentford, the visit of Aston Villa and the League Cup final against Chelsea.
Lets hope it’s not his performance we’re talking about after the 90 minutes…
10. Up early for BT
You can find Liverpool vs. Watford live on BT Sport 1 from 11.30am (BST), with kickoff following at 12.30pm.
But, as ever, you can also follow along with This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog from 11.45am, with Henry Jackson to take you through the action with some unapologetically biased commentary!