With their sights now set on the final of the Europa League, Liverpool will look to end their domestic season in positive fashion over the course of a final week that begins with a home encounter with a Watford side that took them to the cleaners back in December.
For the last Premier League outing at Swansea City, manager Jurgen Klopp was clearly prioritising the second leg against Villarreal as he made numerous changes and saw his Liverpool side outplayed for long periods, conceding some sloppy goals along the way. The one plus point was seeing Christian Benteke get back on the scoresheet, but the decision to rest the key players was emphatically vindicated as they breezed past their Spanish opponents to book a showdown with Sevilla on May 18.
It was a virtuoso performance from start to finish as Villarreal barely gained a foothold in proceedings. Daniel Sturridge was right at the heart of the moments that mattered as he was heavily involved in all three of goals, but the star man was undoubtedly Roberto Firmino, who came up with one of those displays that proved exactly why the club paid £29m for him back in the summer. Add a little more consistency to his game, and the Brazilian will be a standout player for years to come.
Finishing in the top six – though unlikely – has still got to be the aim for the Reds, while the visitors still have an outside chance of a place in the top half, which would make an already tremendous season just that little bit better. Last weekend they were so close to suffering the ignominy of being only the fourth club to lose to Aston Villa this season, but a quick-fire Troy Deeney double spared their blushes and left them celebrating victory rather than mulling over a defeat.
Deeney now has three goals in his last two games and is showing signs of regaining some form as the campaign draws to a close. Here, he will aim to dominate the Liverpool centre-backs just as he did in that memorable win just before Christmas, and given that they have picked up more points on the road than at Vicarage Road, the Hornets could well fancy their chances of coming away with a result. Now that would be an impressive league double.
The hosts remain unable to call upon Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi, but Klopp is likely to make changes to the side in order to protect some of his keo players.
Etienne Capoue is out for Watford, who may name an unchanged line-up from the game against Aston Villa.
Last Meeting: It was left to Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster to keep the score down as his side suffered a 2-0 defeat in December 2006. After the Manchester United loanee had denied Liverpool several times in the first half the deadlock was broken by Craig Bellamy for his fourth goal in five league matches. The result was sealed by Xabi Alonso’s curling effort, with the visitors going closest through Al Bangura.
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