MX23RW : Tuesday, June 22 19:59:21| >> :120:10713:10713:
Feb 29, 2020 at 5.30pm UK at Vicarage Road
Attendance: 21,634
Sarr (54', 60'), Deeney (72')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Watford vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between relegation-threatened Watford and champions-elect Liverpool, including predictions, team news and lineups.

Liverpool's march towards Premier League immortality takes them to Vicarage Road on Saturday evening as they face Watford with yet more history beckoning.

Just 12 points from claiming the title, Jurgen Klopp's side would set a new Premier League record for consecutive victories should they chalk up a 19th in a row this weekend, but take on a Watford side that ran them close in the reverse fixture at Anfield.

Match preview

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring their third goal with Trent Alexander-Arnold on February 24, 2020© Reuters

Twelve points is all Liverpool need to finally put their league title ghost to bed as they head into another week with another record available for their relentless and remarkable team.

When Manchester City went a full half-season without dropping a single point in 2017-18 it was suggested that such a feat would never be repeated, yet Liverpool got to within one of the record earlier this season before subsequently winning each of their last 18 games to match Pep Guardiola's centurions.

Klopp's class of 2019-20 have perhaps not done it in such spectacular fashion, but should they claim a 19th successive win as expected this weekend then it would be another piece of evidence in the growing argument that this is one of the greatest teams English football has ever seen.

The stats certainly suggest so; Monday night's 3-2 triumph over West Ham United was closer than many expected, but it means that Liverpool have now gained as many points as Manchester United's treble-winners from 1998-99 and as many wins as Arsenal's Invincibles from 2003-04.

Those are two teams unanimously included in the argument of the best ever, and yet Liverpool have matched their league feats with a whopping 11 games of the season remaining.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on February 1, 2020© Reuters

The Reds are also closing in on the Invincibles in the unbeaten stakes with the West Ham win taking their tally to 44, just five short of the all-time record in English football held by Arsene Wenger's side.

Liverpool have dropped just 10 points from 132 available in that time and have taken a staggering 106 from the last 108 on offer, which is an unprecedented run of form leaving them on course to gain a scarcely-believable tally of 112 points this season alone.

Klopp's description of his players as 'mentality monsters' becomes more apt every week, with Monday's result the 18th game they have won by a single-goal margin across all competitions this season, while they have also triumphed on penalties twice.

Now masters of getting the job done, Liverpool's lead at the top of the table stands at 22 points and leaves them needing only 12 more - or four more wins - to finally confirm the inevitability of their first top-flight title in 30 years.

With such a commanding lead the challenge will be to ensure that the players do not get distracted by other factors in their treble bid, particularly with an FA Cup clash away to Chelsea coming up and the must-win second leg against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League looming next month.

Mohamed Salah celebrates opening the scoring for Liverpool against Watford on December 14, 2019© Reuters

The narrow margin by which Liverpool have won many of their games this season has helped to stave off the threat of complacency, though, and they know just how tricky a proposition Watford can be after the reverse tie at Anfield in December.

The Hornets were rock-bottom with only nine points and one win from 16 games when they travelled to Merseyside for what was Nigel Pearson's first game in charge and, while they ultimately lost 2-0, they arguably deserved a point having spurned a couple of golden chances to snatch something from the game against all the odds.

Watford's improved performance was soon reflected in their results, though, with that Liverpool loss proving to be their only defeat in Pearson's first eight games at the helm across all competitions - a run of form which briefly lifted them out of the relegation zone.

However, that honeymoon period is now well and truly over and Watford welcome the champions-elect having lost four of their last five games across all competitions, including defeats to Liverpool's Merseyside neighbours Tranmere Rovers and Everton.

The Everton defeat, which came in their most recent home game, was particularly galling as Watford failed to win a Premier League match at Vicarage Road after being two goals ahead for the first time, conceding twice in first-half stoppage time and then again in second-half stoppage time.

Watford boss Nigel Pearson on February 1, 2020© Reuters

Only West Ham and Norwich City have picked up fewer points in front of their own fans this season, although the Hornets have also only lost five of their 13 home games - the same number as fourth-placed Chelsea.

Since the Everton defeat Pearson's side have drawn at Brighton & Hove Albion and been well beaten by Manchester United, leaving them right back in the relegation mire with 11 games of the season remaining.

The situation is certainly less bleak than when they last faced Liverpool - the gap to safety now is only one point - but they know that they need to stop the rot sooner rather than later with the clubs around them all capable of picking up unexpected results.

Watford may need to do the same with three of the top four to come in their next six games, although there are not many stats to encourage them against Liverpool.

Indeed, the Hornets are the joint-lowest scorers in the Premier League this season and come up against the league's best defence, which has kept 10 clean sheets in their last 12 top-flight matches.

Watford Premier League form: WDLLDW
Watford form (all competitions): DLLLDL

Liverpool Premier League form: WWWWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWWWLW

Team News

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lies injured on December 26, 2019© Reuters

Liverpool will again be without in-form captain Jordan Henderson, whose intensity and drive they seemed to miss against West Ham.

The skipper is set to miss around three weeks with a hamstring problem, joining Xherdan Shaqiri and long-term absentee Nathaniel Clyne on the sidelines.

James Milner will also miss this weekend's match with a slight muscle strain, although Klopp suggested that the veteran could be back in time for next week's FA Cup clash with Chelsea.

Trent Alexander-Arnold could break his own record for number of assists by a defender in a single Premier League season should he add to his tally of 12 already this term.

Mohamed Salah will be a grateful recipient of any such service having scored eight goals and created two more in just five appearances against Watford, making them his favourite ever opponent.

The Hornets could have Kiko Femenia back available as they look to stifle Salah and co, but Daryl Janmaat remains a couple of weeks away having only recently stepped up his recovery from a knee problem.

The fit-again Danny Welbeck could be considered for a starting role, while Ismaila Sarr is also pushing for inclusion should Pearson look to make changes from the defeat at Old Trafford.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Dawson, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Hughes, Capoue; Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu; Deeney

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Head To Head

Liverpool are currently enjoying their longest ever unbeaten run against the Hornets - an eight-game streak which includes seven wins while scoring 27 goals and keeping six clean sheets, including four in a row.

The Reds' dominance in this fixture stretches back further than that, though; they have won 24 of the 33 previous meetings between the two sides, although four of Watford's five wins in that time have come on their own patch.

The reverse fixture last season saw Liverpool run out 3-0 winners, with Salah, Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino all on the scoresheet.

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We say: Watford 0-2 Liverpool

Watford put up a decent fight when in poor form during the reverse fixture, but that can perhaps be put down to a new manager bounce which has since deserted them. Liverpool may not have things all their own way, but with a 19th successive Premier League win on the horizon it is impossible to back against Klopp's relentless side.

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