Every week that passes, Liverpool get closer and closer to their first ever Premier League title. They travel to face relegation-threatened Watford on Saturday in what will be a difficult game. Nigel Pearson has turned their form around since arriving at the club, despite a recent drop-off. They are more functional and they will be targeting their home matches to stay up. For the Reds, they need to maintain their positive momentum as they compete on multiple fronts.
There was a lot of optimism that Watford would move clear of danger following the arrival of Nigel Pearson. It seemed a good appointment at the time, as he would fire the players up and get them doing the basics right. Unlike some of the other teams at the bottom, the Hornets have genuine talent throughout the squad. The last few weeks have been worrying though, as they have taken only two points from five Premier League matches. That has left them in 19th position, but they are in touching distance of the teams above them. Taking their position into account and the number of matches left, they can’t write off this weekend. They need to look for the win.
Liverpool are emerging as one of the best teams in Premier League history. The Premier League has been consistently praised for the quality of the league, with the appeal that any team can beat any other. The Reds have only dropped points once in 27 matches. That is an incredible record and Jurgen Klopp will be ensuring that levels remain sky high for the rest of the campaign. The title is theirs, but they will remain motivated to be record breakers. It is likely that they will finish the season without letting up and that is terrifying for any team set to face them.
- Watford have lost four of their last five matches across all competitions.
- Liverpool have scored 14 headed goals in the Premier League this season, more than any other team.
Abdoulaye Doucoure will have a number of options in the summer if Watford are relegated from the Premier League. He has been the best player at the club over the past couple of seasons and has received interest from Champions League clubs. Since the managerial change, he has been reborn under Pearson. The current manager has given him license to roam forward and impact games from the number ten position. This season, he has contributed four goals and one assist in the Premier League. The Frenchman will be keen to perform well on Saturday against the best team in the division and he has the presence to make an impact in both halves of the pitch. His average of 2.8 ball recoveries per game underlines that he can be an asset out of possession. Last weekend, he wasn’t at his best against Manchester United, winning two of his eight duels and losing possession 16 times. There will be a desire to be much better against Liverpool.
Any one of the front three can step up to play a starring role. In away matches, Roberto Firmino has been invaluable at times in the final third. Despite his struggles at Anfield, he remains a key part of the attack and few others could fulfil his role in the system. Liverpool will be looking to ease the load on the front three with reinforcements, but it will be close to impossible to find a like-for-like replacement for the Brazilian. It is why some consider him more integral to the system than Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah, even if he isn’t as explosive. During the win over West Ham, he hit the woodwork, but failed to hit the target with any of his shots. However, he made three ball recoveries and lost possession only nine times. His pressing can’t be shown effectively by stats, but that was once again on show. Watford are a hard working team, but they can be shaky in possession in their own half. The pressing qualities of Firmino could cause them big issues on Saturday.
Kiko Femenia and Daryl Janmaat are both closing in on a return to the squad. Meanwhile, Ismaila Sarr is pushing for his first start since he returned from injury.
James Milner is a doubt for the visitors. Jordan Henderson and Xherdan Shaqiri are also expected to miss out.
The recent match against West Ham United showed that Liverpool can’t be complacent. At this stage of the season, those at the bottom of the table can be very dangerous opposition, as they are fighting for their lives. Liverpool will have learned a lot from Monday and Klopp will want them to have more control over the game on Saturday. They don’t need to blow teams away, but they need to manage matches more effectively. This is likely to be the case against Watford and a comfortable away win is the likely result.
Watford 0-2 Liverpool