A high flying Liverpool, following the announcement of a new Director of Football in Michael Edwards, will welcome an equally impressive Watford FC to Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
It has been the perfect start for Liverpool. The German manager looks well settled, his ideas have been pretty clear and the Reds seem to have taken them on board and the club is reaping the rewards now. Having accrued 23 points from a possible 30, this Liverpool side under Jurgen Klopp is playing an intense and exciting brand of football that has enabled them score 24 goals in the league (joint highest) at the rate of 2.4 goals per game. They will come off the back of a well deserved win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, a ground they have struggled at, in the past. With fellow title rivals Arsenal and Tottenham facing each other in the North London derby, it will be interesting to see if Liverpool can steal a march on either or both of those sides.
Amidst all the traditional heavyweights battling at the summit, Walter Mazzari’s Watford have managed to put in a string of impressive performances, the most impressive result, obviously coming against Manchester United at Vicarage Road. The Hornets sit 7th on the league table with 15 points, with two wins and two draws in the last four games. But this could be their toughest test yet not only because they come up against a Liverpool team unbeaten in at home in all competitions this season but also the distractions they currently face in the form of a forged bank letter which could even result in points deduction, if proven guilty.
Liverpool striker Danny Ings faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after knee surgery, but the Reds have no other injury concerns for Sunday’s fixture. James Milner is back in training after a virus and Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can are both available after illness.
Watford defender Sebastian Prodl will miss the trip to Anfield with a muscular injury he sustained in the win against Hull City and Isaac Success(hamstring) is still not fit. Stefano Okaka (hamstring) is close to a return but the Liverpool fixture may have come too soon for him.
The Reds have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four Premier League meetings with Watford, though they did lose the other match 3-0 at Vicarage Road last season.
Watford have won only one of their nine league visits to Anfield (W1 D0 L8), earning their first PL victory with a 1-0 success in August 1999.
Adam Lallana – Liverpool
3 goals, 3 assists in 9 starts for the former Southampton skipper, this could be the season when the English midfielder can finally play a key part in something special that is brewing at Anfield. Lallana has become so important for Liverpool not just because of his contribution to goals but also his work ethic off the ball in a system where maintaining the intensity and tempo is vital both with and without possession. His link-up play with the Brazilians has made Liverpool a frightening prospect for defenders, especially at Anfield when they tend to have a go from the first whistle which will be key against a Watford side in good form.
Roberto Pereyra – Watford FC
The 25-year old midfielder/winger from Juventus has quickly become one of the most important players for Walter Mazzari in his 3-5-2 positions with his versatility. He has already been deployed in various positions across the midfield, his aggressiveness on the ball and the ability to cross the ball into dangerous areas for their dangerous duo up top in Deeney and Ighalo has been a familiar pattern in Watford’s attacking style. Liverpool have a well documented weakness in defending balls into the box from wide areas – and it will be fascinating to see if the away side manages to exploit that.
History suggests when these two sides face each other – there rarely is a stalemate. Only one of the previous 18 league meetings between these sides has ended in a draw, with Liverpool winning 13 and losing four. So, expect Liverpool to outscore Watford in an entertaining encounter.
Liverpool 3-2 Watford FC