The Premier League is finally back and Liverpool will be hoping to continue their progression under Jurgen Klopp. Their opening match is a trip to Vicarage Road to face Marco Silva’s Watford. The style of play that the Reds play means that they tire as the season progresses, which means that a quick start is crucial if they are to challenge near the top of the league. After finishing only one place above the relegation zone last season, the home side will be looking to retain their Premier League status once again, therefore they won’t be judged on their results in matches such as this one.
Marco Silva forged himself an impressive reputation at Hull City and came close to keeping them in the Premier League, which would have been an excellent achievement. It was clear that he should be managing at this level and the opportunity to manage at Vicarage Road was too good to turn down. The squad was ageing last season and it was important that Silva refreshed it this summer. He has done that with the additions of Will Hughes, Nathaniel Chalobah, Andre Gray and Richarlison among others. They have added some exciting players, but it remains to be seen if they can be formed into a good Premier League team. There remain a lot of questions regarding this Watford signs and their capabilities won’t be clear until a few weeks have passed.
Liverpool have had a frustrating summer as they have failed to sign their priority signings. Mohamed Salah, Andy Robertson and Dominic Solanke are all good players that improve the squad, but they haven’t made the big name signings that they needed to make in order to push for a title challenge. The doubts regarding Philippe Coutinho’s future are concerning, but the club are insistent that he won’t leave. A strong start to the season is needed for supporters to gain positivity about the coming season, which makes a win this weekend crucial.
Liverpool have won three of the four meetings between the two clubs since Watford returned to the Premier League in 2015.
Marco Silva avoided defeat in seven of his nine home matches in the Premier League, which included an impressive 2-0 win over Liverpool.
Liverpool won their last three away matches last season without conceding a goal.
The Frenchman has emerged as a key figure for Watford during recent seasons and he will be a prominent figure again this year. He is an all-action midfielder, who added a goal threat to his repertoire during the last twelve months and he could be the midfielder that Silva expects to support the lone striker. During the 2016/17 season, he contributed seven goals and one assist, which isn’t a bad return for a central midfielder. Liverpool are likely to dominate the possession, but Capoue is capable of winning the ball back high up the pitch and setting up the counter attack for his team. He started quickly last season and he will be hoping to do similar on Saturday. Troy Deeney will be missing and that raises Capoue’s importance to the team.
Sadio Mane was one of the best signings made last summer and he will want to establish himself as one of the leading players in the league during the next 12 months. The Champions League offers him an opportunity to test himself against Europe’s best, but his main focus will be on the Premier League. At times last season, he was devastating and Liverpool were a noticeably worse team without him in the starting eleven. His ability to accelerate behind a defence and time his runs correctly mean that he is a constant concern for opposition defences. Liverpool are very good at winning the ball in the opposition half and that is when Mane is at his most dangerous. Watford will be acclimatising to their new manager and their defence can be targeted as a result. The Senegal international is set for another big season and that will start on Saturday.
Christian Kabasele and Craig Cathcart are both doubts for the opening weekend. Troy Deeney will sit out of the fixture as he continues to recover from a groin problem. Andre Gray and Richarlison could both be in line for a debut at Vicarage Road, despite signing during the past week.
Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge are both battling to be fit for the opening weekend. However, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne won’t be available.
Liverpool need to start with a good result, otherwise the transfer discontent could continue to grow. It is obvious that the summer hasn’t gone as well for the Reds as Klopp would have hoped, but that isn’t entirely their fault. They have been held back by stubborn selling clubs and a crazy transfer market. Watford under Silva are a difficult side to predict, but their team looks to be lacking goals, despite the addition of Andre Gray. The Reds will be difficult to defend against this season and should be one of the leading clubs in terms of goals scored. A big win this weekend could paper over the cracks for the timebeing at least.
Watford 0-3 Liverpool