PREVIEW | Watford v Liverpool (Premier League)

Pádraig O’Callaghan brings the recent form of the two sides, team news and predictions ahead of the match at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening.

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Liverpool travel to Watford as they look to continue their record-breaking season with what could be a 19th-consecutive Premier League victory. This would surpass Manchester City’s record of 18, which the Reds have now already matched with their current run.

Watford are still embroiled in a relegation dogfight despite making a strong start under Nigel Pearson, their third manager of a turbulent season. They have been struggling to get results against teams around them but have a knack of taking points off the ‘bigger’ sides.

Liverpool survived a scare against West Ham United on Monday evening — the Reds were below par and found themselves behind on the hour mark, but this side dubbed the mentality giants by their boss showed their mental strength as they came from behind to win the game 3-2.

Recent form

Watford’s season under Nigel Pearson started at Anfield midway through December. Despite being bottom of the table, they caused Liverpool problems and, based on their performance, you would have assumed they would have pulled away from the relegation zone.

Results since then have seen them slip back into the bottom three. When fighting relegation, results against teams around you are more important than taking points off the big teams. They are winless in five league games and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Tranmere Rovers.


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Their most recent game saw them face Manchester United at Old Trafford. They seemed quite comfortable until Bruno Fernandes gave the home side the lead from the penalty spot just before half-time.

Troy Deeney had an equalizer ruled out due to handball in the build-up and, to rub salt in the wound, United doubled their lead minutes later. Anthony Martial chipped over Ben Foster to set United up for their third consecutive victory. Mason Greenwood then rounded off the win with a goal 15 minutes from time.

Liverpool won their 19th consecutive game and recorded their 26th win of their season with a 3-2 win over West Ham. Gini Wijnaldum gave the Reds’ an early lead, and it looked as if it was going to be an easy night for Liverpool. West Ham had other ideas.

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They scored from a corner just a few minutes later. Alisson almost got there, and he would have done had he not been preoccupied with Michail Antonio stood by him on the line. Liverpool looked really fatigued for the first time this season and struggled to create any chances for the rest of the half.

Liverpool fell behind at Anfield for only the third time this season after Pablo Fornals gave the Irons an unlikely lead which saw manager David Moyes heading for his first ever win at Anfield. West Ham’s lead only last 15 minutes, though, as Mo Salah’s effort slipped under Łukasz Fabiański. With 20 minutes to go, Liverpool turned it up a notch and surged towards the Kop.

With 10 minutes to go, Liverpool broke West Ham’s resistance — a deflected shot from Joe Gomez found Trent Alexander-Arnold in the box, who had the simple task of lifting it over an onrushing goalkeeper. The cross found Sadio Mané, who slotted into an empty net.

Team news

Nigel Pearson has no new injury concerns ahead of the match at Vicarage Road. With no match during the week he should field his strongest available eleven in a bid to halt the club’s slide down the table.

Ben Foster has impressed during his time at Watford and he is an excellent goalkeeper on his day. He will likely be busy against Liverpool’s front three and has conceded 10 goals in his last three games against the Reds.

First-choice right-back Daryl Janmaat is unavailable so Craig Dawson will fill in at right-back, Christian Kabasele, Craig Cathcart and Adam Masina will likely complete the rest of the back four.

Will Hughes, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Étienne Capoue will complete a midfield three while an attacking trio of Roberto Pereyra, Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney will try to break down Liverpool’s resilient defence.

Despite Naby Keïta’s underwhelming performance against West Han, he could start ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain again. The Guinean was subbed after disobeying orders from the bench against West Ham.

The Ox came on and provided an extra man in attack. The England international is an excellent impact player but, despite an excellent outing, may well have to settle for a spot on the bench with the rest of the team likely to remain unchanged.

Prediction

Since Jürgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, his team has scored more against Watford than any other team (27) averaging three goals per meeting. We saw how dangerous the Hornets can be when they played at Anfield and due to the fact they are still in the relegation zone, a similar performance should be expected.

That being said, Liverpool will want to press on after the West Ham result. They were pushed all the way and the players may want to send out a statement to the rest of the league.

They only need 12 more points to secure the title and a win against Watford would see this number drop down into single figures — in February.

Predicted final score: Watford 1-2 Liverpool

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