Liverpool vs Watford: 5 things to expect

Jurgen Klopp's men host Watford at Anfield in a crucial match, and a loss could see the Merseysiders slip out of the Champions League places.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea all find themselves FA Cup action this weekend. Watford’s trip Anfield therefore, provides an ideal opportunity for Liverpool to consolidate a top-four spot and close the gap to the Joe Mourinho’s Manchester United in second.

Sadio Mane & co. currently sit in fourth position with a defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford still fresh in the memory. A victory over the Hornets would lift Liverpool above Tottenham in third and to within a point of United.

A trip to Merseyside will be another test of Watford’s new defensive resolve, which had seen them keep three clean sheets in five matches prior to last week’s encounter with Arsenal, having previously gone 12 games in the league without a clean sheet.

Halting the Marco Silva-led slide down the division has seen Watford maintain a place in the top half of the Premier League, although defeat at Anfield coupled with a Bournemouth win over West Bromwich Albion could see them drop to 11th.

  1. 1 Will Mohamed Salah come back into form?

    Mohamed Salah is now the bookies' favourite to win the Golden Boot, due to Harry Kane's recent ankle injury.

    If the Egyptian winger pulls it off, he could become the first non-striker to win the Golden Boot since Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2007-08 season.

    Salah and Kane have both netted 24 league goals this campaign, leaving Ronaldo and Luis Suarez's joint record of 31 in a 38 Premier League games under threat.

    Salah's failure to find the net against Manchester United ended a six-game league scoring streak for the winger. He can however continue a run of scoring in every top-flight game at Anfield in 2018 against Watford, which has yielded seven goals in five matches.

  2. 2 Watford must be more clinical

    Succumbing to Arsene Wenger's Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates may look a thrashing on paper, but the reality is very different.  

    The Hornets more than held their own for an hour against the Gunners and it may have been a different result had Troy Deeney not missed a second-half penalty.

    The defeat was only Watford's second in six matches under newly appointed manager Javi Gracia.

    That said, the Spaniard is yet to away win since taking the reins from Marco Silva, losing twice and drawing once, with all three of his wins coming at home.

    Watford's four victories on the road this season is only bettered by Burnley and the top five, but three of those came in their opening three away matches. They have lost seven out of eight in the league since winning at Newcastle United in November, failing to score in their last four.

    If Watford want to get anything from this fixture, they will have to be clinical.

  3. 3 Could Klopp shake things up?

    Jordan Henderson is nearing full fitness and could make Liverpool's starting lineup after Klopp left his captain the bench against Manchester United. 

    Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren both had nightmare performances up against Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku last weekend. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip could come in if Klopp reshuffles his defence.

    It's possible we could see two, or maybe even three changes to the side that started against Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend.

  4. 4 Watford's injury problems could prove decisive

    Watford have 10 players unavailable for selection, leaving Gracia with somewhat limited options. Among those nursing knocks are Gerard Deulofeu, Tom Cleverley, Younes Kaboul, Nathaniel Chalobah and Jerome Sinclair.

    With such a high number of injuries to some quality operators, Gracia will be cursing his luck. However, Watford do possess a certain tricky Brazilian in their ranks...

  5. 5 Can Richarlison do it on the big stage?

    Richarlison has netted a last-minute winner at Swansea, a stoppage-time equaliser at West Bromwich Albion in his Premier League career so far. Can he now impact games against top quality opposition? 

    The Watford man has recently spoke of a desire to "make history" at the club, this fixture against Liverpool would be a great start.

    What are your thoughts ahead of the clash at Anfield? Let us know in the comments section below.

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James Copley

Born and raised in Hendon, Sunderland - graduated with a BA in History from the University of Swansea, now back up north studying a Masters in Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland. Raised a Sunderland AFC fan and supporter of the Welsh national team due to Cardiff-born father and wider family.

Has written about Sunderland AFC and boxing for SBNation's Roker Report & Bad Left Hook respectively.

Twitter: @JamesCopley73