Liverpool host Watford in the early kickoff on Saturday as Premier League action returns. The Reds are seeking to go top of the table with victory, whilst Roy Hodgson’s side are desperately attempting to claw their way out of the relegation zone. Here’s a preview of the game…

Liverpool could turn the pressure all the way up on Manchester City with victory. It would mark the first time since December that the Reds would sit top of the pile. It would be a huge psychological boost for the side, making the Citizens’ trip to Turf Moor later on Saturday, very interesting.

For Watford, it has been a grim season till date. The Hornets currently lie 18th on 22 points from 29 matches played. They are 3 points from safety but have played 2 games more than 17th placed Everton. They are running out of games to save themselves from the drop.

Their yo-yoing between the Premier League and the Championship seems set to continue unless they can string a run of results together. Spanish boss Xisco lasted just 7 games before being sacked in October. Claudio Ranieri was hired as his successor, with the Italian suffering a chastening 5-0 defeat to Liverpool in his first game in charge.

Ranieri lasted just 14 games before getting the sack, after overseeing 11 defeats. In stepped former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson. The 74 year old looked set to retire after leaving Palace but made a comeback into management to take on this tough assignment.

He’s overseen a slight uptick in form, guiding the Hornets to 2 wins and 2 draws in 9 games. They ended Southampton’s impressive unbeaten home run last time out, running out 2-1 winners at the Saint Mary’s.

They will be wary of avoiding the hammering they suffered at the hands of Jürgen Klopp’s men earlier in the season. Roberto Firmino netted a hat trick that day but the game is memorable for Salah’s special strike, with the Egyptian twisting the defence all over the place before slotting.

Liverpool will hope for a similar performance and boast an excellent record against Watford. Take out the wild 3-0 defeat at Vicarage Road which ended the Reds’ ‘Invincibles’ charge in 2019/20, and the Reds have won the last five encounters 5-0, 2-0, 5-0, 3-0 and 5-0.

The Hodgson factor could play a part in the outcome this time round. Roy is a very conservative manager and you can expect him to set his side up to sit deep and frustrate. Whether that will be enough to stop a Liverpool side that has won the last nine league games on the bounce is unlikely.

The Reds have kept seven clean sheets in that run, conceding just twice. They are in rampant mood and will be aware of the significance of a tenth straight victory. They will also be keen to show that the international break hasn’t slowed their momentum.

Saturday is the start of a run of eight games in April (nine should the Reds get past Benfica in the Champions League). It’s a month full of mammoth clashes and what best way to commence than to go top of the league with victory on Saturday?

Team News

For Liverpool, Milner returned to training during the international break. The veteran had been struggling with a bout of illness. Alexander-Arnold on the other hand, is going through individual sessions at the AXA Training Ground as he seeks to make a return from a hamstring injury. He’s a doubt for Saturday as it stands.

Naby Keita is also a doubt after pulling out of international duty with a knee injury. Roy Hodgson has almost a full squad to select from. Jeremy Ngakia has been out with a hamstring injury but will be assessed ahead of the trip to Merseyside on Saturday, whilst youngster Kwadwo Baah is a long term absentee.

Key Players

Diogo Jota

Diogo took his time to find his stride after returning from injury but he looks to be back in the groove. He’s now scored or assisted in each of his last four appearances for club and country, playing a crucial part in Portugal sealing qualification for the World Cup.

Cucho Hernandez

The 22 year old Colombian seems to have found form at a crucial moment for Watford. He’s scored three goals and provided one assist in his last three league games, including a spectacular overhead kick against Arsenal. The winger will be key to the Hornets’ counter attacking game plan.

Mohamed Salah

The runaway Premier League topscorer suffered his second heartbreak with his country in a matter of weeks. After losing the AFCON final on penalties to Senegal, Egypt lost another shootout to Senegal as they failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

What better way to get over that disappointment than a match against his favourite opponents? Salah has scored 9 goals and provided 3 assists in just 7 games against the Hornets. He netted his very first Liverpool goal, as well as his first hat trick for the club, against Watford.



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