With the chasing pack having taken a bit of a tumble this weekend, Liverpool are in the driver’s seat to secure that precious fourth (or maybe third) Champions League spot. All they need to do is steal an away win against Watford at Vicarage Road. To do so, they’ll have to avoid repeating last season’s three goal mauling when Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney manhandled Mamadou Sakho and Martin Škrtel. Oh, they’ll also have to reverse a dispiriting trend of underachievement when facing sides from the lower half of the table.
Other than that, though, tomorrow should be great.
Watford, for their part, are sitting in relative safety at 13th in the table, having reached that magical 40 point threshold despite an inconsistent season. Liverpool dismantled Watford in a 6-1 affair at Anfield earlier in the season, but some injuries to key players have seen the wheels on Klopp’s car start to wobble a bit in 2017. Watford manager Walter Mazzarri, no doubt sensing vulnerability, has declared quite explicitly that he expects his team to come out angry against tomorrow’s visitors
The Reds will likely feature a starting XI that will look familiar to anyone who has been watching over the past few weeks. A lack of experienced depth means that Klopp doesn’t have the luxury of tinkering too much with his starters, and the bench will probably once again feature a healthy proportion of youthful promise. And Alberto Moreno.
This of course also means that new long-term-contract-haver Dejan Lovren will feature in the middle of the back four alongside Joël Matip. Now would be a good time for the defender to make Liverpool’s decision look like a good one, because his own decisions on the pitch have not been ideal as of late.
Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner
Can, Lucas, Wijnaldum
Firmino, Coutinho, Origi
Sadio Mané, Jordan Henderson and Ragnar Klavan remain out, as expected, but the big news on the fitness front has been the reappearance of Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge in training. Of the two, Lallana appears more likely to have some role to play in tomorrow’s proceedings, though Klopp will understandably want to be cautious about reintroducing the England midfielder after such a prolonged absence. If Sturridge is fit enough for the bench, that may be critical as Divock Origi has struggled to make an impact as the furthest player forward.
Mazzarri could probably use the additional buffer of three points from tomorrow’s contest, as Watford have a less-than-accommodating run in to the season that includes matchups against a resurgent Leicester City as well as Everton, Chelsea, and Manchester City. Younès Kaboul and Mauro Zárate remain out with injuries, but Deeney will look to reprise his role as Liverpool’s tormentor, likely to be aided this time by M'Baye Niang and Nordin Amrabat.
Kickoff is set for 8:00 PM BST/3:00 PM EST tomorrow, May 1, on Sky Sports 1 in the UK and NBC Sports in the United States. Online radio coverage is provided by BBC Radio. Elsewhere, Optus Sport in Australia, Sportsnet World in Canada, Star Sports Select in India, Supersport3 Africa in Kenya, Astro Supersport 3 in Malaysia, and Stöð 2 Sport in Iceland are carrying the match. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.