Liverpool vs Watford
| Wednesday, February 27th |
Premier League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
Following a remarkably slow period in which the Reds played only six games in 41 days — interspersed with a pair of warm-weather training camps of arguable merit — the Liverpool schedule is heating up, and Jürgen Klopp’s men are in a run of seven matches in under four weeks ahead of the next international break.
Next up, then, are Javi Gracia’s Watford. Perhaps the biggest surprise package of the year, the Hornets sit in seventh place, and a draw or better tomorrow would see them equal their total points tally from last season, with ten games still to go. It is no small feat, as Watford had to overcome the loss of superstar Richarlison to Everton in the summer, but Gracia has done a remarkable job of galvanising the squad, coaxing an impressive defensive improvement out of a similar group of players.
Despite their 5-1 thumping of Cardiff at the weekend, however, the Hornets are not typically an offensive juggernaut, and no single player has managed more than seven goals this season. Troy Deeney, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra can definitely be a handful on their day, but realistically speaking, Liverpool’s main challenge on Wednesday will be to put the ball in the back of the net behind Ben Foster.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Mané, Firmino, Salah
As usual, there will be game-day decisions to make for Jürgen Klopp, and both Roberto Firmino and Naby Keïta are doubtful for tomorrow, struggling with an ankle injury and illness, respectively. The shortlist of potential replacements consists of Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri, and while the latter two have had their moments this season, the manager would undoubtedly prefer to have his first choice striker available.
At the back, Trent Alexander-Arnold is likely to return, and with Dejan Lovren’s continued absence, Joël Matip and Virgil van Dijk will partner in the center of defense. With the Merseyside derby coming up at the weekend, it seems plausible that Klopp could rest his English engine room in midweek, meaning James Milner and Jordan Henderson sit this one out, while Fabinho retains his spot in central midfield.
Mohamed Salah loves playing Watford, having notched six goals in three games against the Hornets, and — having only netted once in his past five — will be chomping at the bit to get another bite at the Golden Boys.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “Watford are a difficult one, of course. They are on a good run and they play different styles of football. We need to be ready for both but we will probably have the ball for some time in the game and we need to do something with that, of course. It’s a difficult Premier League game against a good side.”
Javi Gracia: “We have analysed the last games against them, this season and last season as well and we try to do better next time. When I play one game, I always want the three points. I never say before the game that I am happy with just one.”
Referee: Graham Scott
Assistant referees: Marc Perry, Mick McDonough
Fourth official: Lee Mason
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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 the action as it happens.