The winter period is a difficult one to manage for coaches new to the league, therefore it will be interesting to see how Quique Sanchez-Flores and Jurgen Klopp deal with it over the next few weeks. The Christmas period of football is unique to England and it needs to be managed in a clever way with rotation being key. Both of these clubs are in a good position to achieve their pre season aims. Watford are currently above Liverpool and are incredibly just four points outside of the Champions League places. They will be hoping to have a strong mid table finish in their first season back in the top flight. Meanwhile Liverpool are beginning to make progress under Jurgen Klopp, but the Champions League might be just out of their reach this season.
Watford are in 7th position at the moment and have won five of their last seven matches, which is a really good run for a promoted side. The duo of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo have been a revelation and show the re-emergence of the striker partnership, with the latter taking most of the headlines. They have 15 goals between them and they are the main reason that Watford have done so well this season. Sanchez-Flores has been a great appointment for Watford and the way the club have played this season has been excellent.
Liverpool showed a great amount of ambition in appointing Jurgen Klopp as he was never going to be unemployed for very long, which was why the decision to sack Brendan Rodgers appeared a little rushed. He is beginning to make progress with the players at his disposal, with the performances against Manchester City and Chelsea being excellent and show just how dangerous Liverpool could be under the German. They have only managed to pick up one point from their last two matches against West Brom and Newcastle, which shows that there is still lots of work to do at the club.
The last time both of these clubs were in the same league was the 2006/2007 season and Liverpool won both matches. They won this fixture 3-0 and the match at Anfield ended in a 2-0 home win. In the last 15 matches between the two sides, Liverpool have won on 12 occasions.
Valon Behrami and Sebastian Prodl are both doubts for this weekend with calf injuries. Joel Ekstrand is still a few weeks away from a return and he won’t be back until 2016.
James Milner is going to miss this weekend with a calf injury. Mamadou Sakho is closing in on a return, and could feature this weekend. Daniel Sturridge and Dejan Lovren could return this month, but this weekend will come too soon.
Watford have scored the fewest amount of goals in the top half with just 18 in the opening 16 matches.
Liverpool have only kept one clean sheet in the last seven matches, showing their weakness at the back.
Odion Ighalo has been an asset for the Pozzo family at Granada and now at Watford and highlights one of the advantages of being owned by the Italians. He has arrived in England and played a major part in the rise of Watford. Last season, he scored 20 goals in their promotion campaign and he could match that again if he continues to notch at his current rate. At the moment, he has 10 goals to his name and we aren’t half-way through the campaign yet. Watford are heavily reliant on his goal-scoring instincts as the rest of the side don’t score many. He has scored over half of the side’s goals in the league and has also managed to get two assists, which shows his quality in the final third. His movement and excellent reading of the game in the final third allows him to get into goal-scoring positions frequently. He will cause problems for Liverpool this weekend as the Reds have struggled to keep clean sheets recently and the Nigerian knows where the goal is. His partnership with Troy Deeney is one of the key reasons for the club’s success, with both proving that there is talent in the lower divisions.
The German has always been tipped for greatness and he is beginning to show some consistent form under Jurgen Klopp. It isn’t surprising that the former Dortmund head coach is getting good performances out of the central midfielder as he will have known Emre Can from a young age and therefore knows him better than Brendan Rodgers ever did. He is also suited to the high energy, pressing game that Klopp likes his sides to play, while his impressive passing range will be key in Liverpool’s attacking game. He displayed his vision and ability to deliver a pass against Southampton in the Capital One Cup as he found Daniel Sturrdige with an excellent ball with the outside of his boot. If he can find more passes like that in the coming months, then his reputation will continue to rise and he could even have an outside chance of getting into the German European Championship squad. Away from home, Liverpool need to dominate the midfield and against a team that plays with two strikers, their central midfielders will have more freedom when in possession. This should allow Emre Can to thrive at Vicarage Road.
It will be an interesting match this weekend, with both sides featuring in the top half of the table. Watford will play with no fear and will cause a lot of problems for Liverpool, who have looked shaky in recent weeks. Odion Ighalo is an excellent goalscorer and I expect him to score again this weekend. Liverpool need to start winning matches if they want to finish in the top four, therefore this match will go a long way to showing how far they can go this season as Watford are a very good side. I expect it to be an exciting match with both teams scoring, but I fancy Liverpool to edge it by one goal.
Watford 1-2 Liverpool