Verdict: Total goals under 3.5
Best odds: 49/50
The international break is done, and we’re nearing the end of the season. It’s time for the Premier League’s top and bottom teams to start their struggles, and the match between Liverpool and Watford, which will take place on Saturday at Anfield, is a key element of both.
Of course, Liverpool and Manchester City are vying for the Premier League crown, with both teams also hoping to win the Champions League and the FA Cup. They won’t see each other in the Champions League until the final – Liverpool will face Benfica in the quarterfinals – but they will meet in the FA Cup semis at Wembley.
Since 2017/18, these two teams have dominated English football, with City winning three league titles and Liverpool winning one. However, the Merseysiders added their sixth European title by winning the 2018/19 Champions League, the only trophy still missing from the Etihad cabinet but arguably the most prestigious one. Liverpool has already won a trophy this season, with the Carabao Cup comfortably ensconced at Anfield.
As things stand right now, City leads the table with 70 points from 29 games. With 69 points, Liverpool is breathing down their neck, and the two passionate rivals will play off next week in Manchester. Chelsea, who were expected to enter the battle this season, are now 10 points behind Liverpool and pose no serious threat to either team.
In their last six matches in all competitions, the Reds have won five and lost one. They beat Norwich City 2-1 in the fifth round of the FA Cup at home, as well as West Ham 1-0, before Inter Milan won 0-1, in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 at Anfield. Following that, Jurgen Klopp’s side won two difficult but crucial away matches, 0-2, against Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal, respectively. Finally, they eliminated Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup quarterfinals with a 0-1 victory at the City Ground.
News from the team
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Arnold was injured just before the international break and had to decline an England call-up, but he is now back in full training and should be ready to play on the right defensive wing. Following his achievements with Scotland, Klopp may decide to rest left-back Andy Robertson, with Kostas Tsimikas providing a perfectly capable replacement who would relish the chance to start.
Caoimhin Kelleher, Jordan Henderson, and Thiago Alcantara would be nailed-on to start if goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Fabinho represented Brazil and could use a break after crossing the Atlantic twice since their last club encounter. Klopp’s decision on that front remains to be seen, as is the situation with forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane following their World Cup qualifier fight, in which Mane’s Senegal defeated Salah’s Egypt for the second time. Given the frequency and size of the games that follow during the month, some rotation is to be expected.
At this stage of the season, points are just as essential for Watford as they are for Liverpool, albeit for different reasons. The Hornets are now 18th in the Premier League table with 22 points, well behind the red line. Everton, who are 25 points ahead of them, and Burnley, who are 21 points behind them, both have two games in hand.
Things aren’t looking good for Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool team, which was in charge from July 2010 to January 2011, probably the worst six months in the club’s history in terms of football.
Whatever the case may be, the 74-year-old will be emotionless on his first day back at Anfield, where he hopes to motivate his current squad. Coming to the turf of serious title contenders, they have nothing to lose, and they will try their hardest to pull off a surprise.
Watford’s recent run has been decent for a relegation-threatened team, with two wins, a draw, and three defeats in their previous six Premier League appearances. The winning streak began with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on the road. After a 1-4 loss at home to Crystal Palace, they were able to escape Old Trafford with a point thanks to a 0-0 draw against Manchester United. Following a 3-2 loss at home to Arsenal, a 4-0 battering at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux, and a stunning 1-2 win away to Southampton, the club managed to turn things around. The Hornets have recently performed better away from home, so we’ll see how they react to Anfield.
Defender Team News Jeremy Ngakia did not play against Southampton, but he is now back in full training and should start on the right side. However, centre-back Nicolas N’Koulou is a major doubt.
The rest of the squad, including winger Ismaila Sarr, who spent the international break alongside Liverpool’s Sadio Mane as they helped Senegal qualify for the World Cup, should be available to Hodgson.
Although Hodgson favors a four-man back line, he may choose to bring in an extra defender in order to limit the home side’s attacking threat as much as possible.
Liverpool are unquestionably the favorites to win this match, even if Klopp opts for a largely rotated lineup. With all due respect to Watford, that roster has much too much quality for them to handle.
The victory for the home team, on the other hand, may be narrower than many home supporters had hoped. Watford, on the other hand, will almost certainly have to look for points elsewhere in order to stay afloat.
Verdict: Total goals under 3.5
Best odds: 49/50