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Watford v Liverpool – team news and preview

Liverpool put six goals past Watford in the reverse fixture last November

TEAM NEWS

Watford defender Craig Cathcart is a doubt for Monday night’s visit of Liverpool because of a knee problem.

Younes Kaboul, Roberto Pereyra and Mauro Zarate all remain sidelined.

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana has returned to training and could be involved for the first time since suffering a thigh injury on England duty five weeks ago.

Daniel Sturridge is also available after missing last week’s defeat by Crystal Palace with a sore hip.

RADIO 5 LIVE COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

Alistair Bruce-Ball: “If you made a Premier League table just based on the games between the top six teams this season then Liverpool would already have the title in the bag, so good has their form been against their main rivals.

“Yet their run-in sees them face four games which are precisely the type of fixtures that have tripped them up, starting at Vicarage Road.

“If Liverpool want a return to the Champions League they must find a way to assert themselves against the sides they’re expected to beat, just as Chelsea have done all season.

“As for Watford, expect a reaction after last week’s defeat at Hull and that stinging criticism of their performance by the captain Troy Deeney.”

Twitter: @alibruceball

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Watford head coach Walter Mazzarri: “Our target was to be mathematically safe and we still are not mathematically safe, [but] we are very near safety.

“They [Liverpool] will be very angry, because they lost at home [to Crystal Palace]. I hope my players are more angry than them, because we lost our last game and conceded six against Liverpool earlier this year.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “At the beginning of the season, when we were first or second in the table and all that stuff, I said the only thing we can do is to be in the battle for the interesting positions at the end of the season.

“Yes, it would be nice if we had 10 points more and fight with Chelsea for the title, but that’s not for us obviously in this moment.

“So we have to fight for what we can fight for and that’s a Champions League place. That’s really, really interesting, to be honest.”

LAWRO’S PREDICTION

The Hornets are back at home, but this still looks like a winnable fixture Liverpool – although I thought the same about their last game against Crystal Palace.

Prediction: 1-2

Lawro’s full predictions v Line of Duty actor Adrian Dunbar

  • Think you can do better than Lawro? Predict the score for this match and the rest of this round’s Premier League fixtures in our Predictor game
They average 2.17 points per game against teams in the top seven.

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Watford have lost five of the last six meetings in the Premier League, winning the other 3-0 at home in December 2015. That remains Jurgen Klopp’s biggest competitive defeat as Liverpool manager.
  • Liverpool have beaten Watford in 10 of their last 12 encounters in all competitions.

Watford

  • The Hornets could win four top-flight matches in a row at Vicarage Road for the first time since December 1986, when they beat Liverpool to establish that mark.
  • Watford are also vying to keep four consecutive top-flight clean sheets at home for the first time.
  • They have only scored four goals in their last six matches.
  • A 12th victory of the season would equal the club’s Premier League record set last season.

Liverpool

  • Liverpool are vying to win three successive Premier League away games for only the second time under Jurgen Klopp, with the previous occasion coming in October 2016.
  • Their seven-match unbeaten league run was ended by Crystal Palace last time out (W5, D2).
  • Five of their six defeats this season have come against teams currently in the bottom half of the table: Palace, Leicester, Burnley, Hull and Swansea.
  • Philippe Coutinho has scored four goals in his last five league games.
  • Roberto Firmino has provided two goals and two assists in his last two league matches against Watford, both at Anfield.
SAM’s verdict
Most probable score: 1-1 Probability of draw: 23%
Probability of home win: 23% Probability of away win: 54%

SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by @ProfIanMcHale at the University of Salford that is used to predict the outcome of football matches.

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