Friday, April 10, 2020

Prediction: Watford vs Liverpool

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 27 Feb 2020

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Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score

Best odds: 5/6

Bookmaker: William Hill

Watford will welcome Liverpool to the Vicarage Road on Saturday evening for a game that will be a part of the 28th matchday in the Premier League this season, played between two teams with very different goals towards the end of the campaign.

Watford

It wasn’t that long ago when Watford were rightly considered among the toughest teams to beat (outside the top six) in the English top flight. Well organized and very physical in their approach, nobody liked to think about the prospect of playing against them. Well, maybe it wasn’t that long ago, but right now it sure feels like it was.

Having taken the team to the 2019 FA Cup final, Javi Gracia sat in the dugout when the season began, only to receive his marching orders a month later. Quique Sanchez Flores, who took the team to the 2016 FA Cup semi-final, took over but lasted only two months before getting the sack as well. After a short spell of U-23 boss Hayden Mullins acting as the caretaker, the club hired Nigel Pearson just before the turn of the year and it seems things have slightly picked up since then. They still don’t look very promising, but at least they’ve moved away from the bottom place, sitting six points above Norwich City.

Of course, there is still 11 games to be played and the Hornets practically stand as much chance of survival as, for example, West Ham United (both 24 points), Aston Villa (25), or Bournemouth (26).

Watford’s last five games consist of a goalless draw at home against Tottenham Hotspur, a 2-1 defeat away to Aston Villa, a 2-3 defeat at home to Everton, a 1-1 draw away to Brighton and Hove Albion, and a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford last week. Before that, however, they had won three out of four matches.

Team News

Fullbacks Kiko Fermenia and Daryl Janmaat have been out for a long time with a thigh and knee injury, respectively. They have now recovered, but it remains to be seen if they’ll be judged to have pumped up enough match fitness to make an appearance on Saturday.

Liverpool

On December 20th, 2015, Jurgen Klopp took Liverpool to the Vicarage for the first time and saw his team beaten perhaps surprisingly, but pretty comprehensively. They looked lifeless, lacking quality pretty much everywhere on the pitch, and the Hornets ran them ragged. Things could not be more different today.

Sitting on the European throne and well on their way to picking up their first league title in 30 years, the Reds are a truly impressive force. Only Manchester United managed to win a single point from them this season, and no team has ever won this many points (79) after 27 rounds in any of Europe’s top five leagues. They look set to beat Arsenal’s record of 49 league games without defeat (43 at the moment), and if they win here, they will overtake that of Manchester City for consecutive wins (18). With 22 points between them and the defending champions in second place right now, Liverpool need win just four more games, this one and the following three, to have the title mathematically wrapped up.

The way they won all these games wasn’t always impressive in terms of scoreline as they often won by scoring very late. However, that exact trait shows how strong their winning mentality is.

When it comes to defending their European crown, they suffered a narrow defeat in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 away to Atletico Madrid, and it will be a good opportunity to display that mentality again when the La Liga side come to Anfield on March 11th.

Team News

Having torn his ACL back in July, defender Nathaniel Clyne hasn’t played at all this season and has only just started training again. It remains to be seen if he plays at all before the campaign is over, but for the time being he is out. Klopp also cannot call upon winger Xherdan Shaqiri, whose calf injury appears to be worse than first thought. Captain Jordan Henderson is also out, having suffered a hamstring problem in Madrid last week. James Milner missed a couple of games with a muscle issue, and he’s currently being assessed for the Watford trip.

Conclusion

It’s pretty safe to assume that Watford will do the best they can against the champions elect, but with Liverpool probably keen on wrapping the title up as soon as possible, the Hornets don’t look like a team capable of weathering that storm. Mohamed Salah has often been the scourge of Watford, and it’s likely the Egyptian will get on the scoresheet this time as well.

Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score

Best odds: 5/6

Bookmaker: William Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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