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Liverpool vs. Watford: Premier League 2021-22 Preview and Team News

Liverpool have the chance to go top — for a few hours at least, as the early kick-off starts the return to Premier League football after the break

Jürgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool and Roy Hodgson, then Manager of Crystal Palace, shake hands.
Jürgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool and Roy Hodgson, then Manager of Crystal Palace, shake hands.
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images


| Saturday, April 2nd |

Premier League | Anfield

12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST

Watford come into Saturday’s match sat in the eighteenth position, three points below Everton (who have played two fewer games). Since Hodgson came in at the end of January, Watford have been more passive and defensively-focused — as we would likely expect. While they don’t take risks going forward, they do try to limit the quality of opposition shots, so Liverpool should expect to have to break them down.

Watford have no injuries to speak of, per Roy Hodgson’s pre-match press conference; expect Watford to play their first choice XI against the Reds.

While Emmanuel Dennis is their top scorer, having scored nine goals in 29 appearances (from an xG 7), we also know the threat that Ismailia Sarr can pose. What we may not be thinking about, however, is João Pedro, who is central to how Watford plays. Should Liverpool hope to snuff out Watford’s forward play, he’s a definite focus.

If Liverpool can win this midfield battle, they can concentrate on breaking down the tightly-organized defensive side who come to Anfield trying to break out of the relegation zone.

Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)

Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mané

Many players clocked a load of minutes over the international break, but notably the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold has been back in training for one session and could feature. Andrew Robertson had to isolate with COVID-19, and returned at the end of the week, featuring for Scotland.

Naby Keïta missed a training after also missing the international break with a knock; he has trained once, missed another training, and may train today. Either way, this suggests that his knock isn’t that bad.

Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah both topped the international break outfield players’ minutes table on 210 minutes. Virgil Van Dijk and Kostas Tsimikas both finished the week on 180 minutes, while Luis Díaz logged 174 and Diogo Jota reached 148.

Given the minutes played, there will need to be decisions made up front ahead of a heavy April fixture list. Some rotation is possible, though fitness questions will surely be evaluated behind the scenes. It’s notable that Roberto Firmino and Joël Matip did not travel for the international break, so both of them are likely to start.

In making his decisions for Saturday, however, Jürgen Klopp also has to deal with the first leg against Benfica on the horizon, as the “thick and fast” part of the run-in will become very quickly apparent.

Deep breaths. Welcome to an April with three trophies in play.

What the Managers Had to Say

Jurgen Klopp: “The boys came back from all over the world, played completely different systems again. We have one session today to remind them what we do, then we go against a very well-organised Watford team and we need each voice [in Anfield] for that.”

Roy Hodgson: [When asked how he was looking at Liverpool:] “With trepidation I suppose.”

The Officials

Referee: Stuart Attwell Assistants: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood Fourth Official: Tony Harrington VAR: John Brooks Assistant VAR: Simon Bennett

Kickoff is set for 12:30PM GMT/7:30AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.

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