Watford vs Liverpool – Premier League preview and team news

Liverpool will be determined to win for the first time in three Premier League outings, but face a challenge against a Watford side that is on a fine run and sit a point and two places above them in the table.

Although they face a tricky run of matches over the festive period, Watford are becoming almost impossible to write off at present and were just four points off the Champions League places coming into the weekend, reaching a position where no side in the top-flight is even thinking about taking them likely. It is an outstanding achievement from manager Quique Flores and his multi-national squad; the only thing now is to maintain it for the remainder of the season.

The Hornets threatened to run riot early on in their last match at Sunderland, but only had yet another Odion Ighalo goal to show for a dominant opening to proceedings. However, such is their strength at the back that they were able to hold on to their slender advantage in the face of considerable second half pressure, with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes excelling on the few occasions where centre-backs Miguel Britos and Craig Cathcart were bypassed. Whatever the end result, they will give the Reds a huge test here.

Much was made of the fact that Jurgen Klopp led his Liverpool players in celebration at the fact they had just about rescued a point at home to West Bromwich Albion last time out, another game which put the club’s indifferent home form under the microscope. Despite having the better of things in open play, they were caught out at set-pieces all too easily through a combination of slack marking and indecisive goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet.

Such a lack of cohesion would be very unwelcome here, as in Ighalo and Troy Deeney they come up against a massively in-form strike partnership. The frustration for Klopp is that during his short reign he has overseen displays which have come out of the top drawer, but it is a level that they have so far proved unable to sustain. Until they find that consistency, the Merseyside club will have to face up to the fact that Watford are among their direct opponents in mid-table.

Defender Tommie Hoban is still out for Watford, but they could have Valon Behrami and Sebastian Prodl back available.

For the away side, Mamadou Sakho makes a timely return to contention as Dejan Lovren begins a spell on the sidelines. Daniel Sturridge remains unavailable and James Milner is absent with a calf problem.

Last Meeting: There was no mercy shown by Liverpool as they cantered to a 3-0 victory over Adrian Boothroyd’s side in January 2007. Craig Bellamy and Peter Crouch were the men to do the damage with the Welshman turning in a Steve Finnan cross on 12 minutes before Crouch netted his first of the afternoon on the rebound following a fine Ben Foster save. Crouch rounded it off after being set up by Bellamy.

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