Watford have had a tumultuous time of late with the recent high turnover of managers (four in three years), however, it appears that the appointment of Javi Gracia this January has gone some way in steadying the ship.
Indeed, the North-West London side’s newfound consistency has allowed them to benefit with an impressive points haul propelling them to 7th in the league, presenting Watford as early contenders for European football.
Although perhaps fortunate to share the points in their match-up with Southampton on the South coast, Watford’s performances this season against the league’s top sides should provide a warning to any Liverpool fan expecting a repeat of the 5-0 drubbing Gracia’s Watford suffered in their last meeting.
Putting aside their most recent disappointing outings against Newcastle and Southampton, this is a Watford side much improved and are deserving of our respect.
So, without further ado, let the FOAR writers’ predictions commence!
An all out goal affair succumbed last season with eleven goals scored between both teams ending in a 3-3 draw at Vicarage Road before the Reds won 5-0 at Anfield. However, I can’t see goals aplenty this season as Watford sit seventh in the league ahead of Manchester United. This away game at Vicarage Road is going to be a stern test for the Reds especially as players are only coming back from international duty. Hendo suffered an injury while on international duty and has been ruled out of the game as a result. Klopp needs to field a strong team as we are still chasing the tail of Manchester City and need to keep the pressure on as much as possible. I’m predicting an extremely tight contest with Watford with the Reds just edging it and winning 1-2 on the day. It’s tough to predict the actual line up but one player who has to the start for me is Shaqiri due to his recent form and impact on the team, also Mane & Firmino have been quiet of late by their own standards but I think Klopp will persist with them, therefore I’m going with, Alisson, Robo, Gomez, Van Dijk, TAA, Gini, Fabinho, Shaqiri, Salah, Firmino, Mane.(or Millie) – @annelizawalsh78
There’s a history of goals between these two sides, with Liverpool most recently securing the points at Anfield in their final meeting of 2017/18 in style with five goals without reply. It’ll be more difficult this time around however, especially at Vicarage Road, according to Annie, and a strong side is a must to keep the pressure on City.
Finally it’s back, the dreaded international break has ended. An away trip to Vicarage Road awaits Liverpool. Watford manager Javi Gracia has been a revelation this season. Leading his team to an unbeaten five wins in his first five games this season. But since then it’s been inconsistent to say the least. With one win, two draws, and four losses. After beating Huddersfield 3-0, they’ve lost to Newcastle and drew with Southampton. But they still sit above Manchester United in seventh place in the league on 20 points respectively. So Liverpool will have to bring their A-game on Saturday at 3pm; Watford are a bullish team and take no prisoners. In saying that, I still think we can win this game, although it won’t be the best game to watch by no means. But we’re in a different league to Watford and should have enough in us to win this game by a couple of goals. My prediction is a 3-1 win, with Firmino, Mane and Salah the scorers. Barring no injuries from the remaining internationals, my team is Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Lovren, Gomez, Fabinho, Gini, Milner, Mane, Salah, and Firmino. The reason I’m going with Gomez at right back is for extra height in defence. I think Jürgen will opt for James Milner ahead of Shaqiri because of his freshness – @JasonBranagan79
In a short space of time, Javi Gracia has transformed this Watford side, and their standing in the league is indicative of this. Jason is absolutely right in bringing up the importance of height against this Watford side, especially given the quality of the London side’s set pieces. Expect a physical game!
Post-international breaks have that tendency to be dull and laboured affairs with an unnecessary break to momentum. Watford this season have been very much a Jekyll and Hyde team, so the outcome depends very much on which Hornets side shows up. Watford 0 Liverpool 2 – @kopitesaint91
We can never be quite sure what to expect from Watford, according to Matthew. Unfortunately for Liverpool however, Javi Gracia sides tend to perform well against the league’s best, but Liverpool should pull through this one with the points in the bag.
I think we can expect a tight game against Gracia’s Hornets. Watford are a side who have really impressed me this season and look like a difficult side to beat. They beat Tottenham at home so I don’t believe we can expect to roll them over. Roberto Pereyra is a player we need to watch out for as he has been one of the standout players for Watford this season and has impressed, scoring on five occasions this term. They’re not on the best of form as they’re without a win in their last two games after losing against Newcastle and drawing with Southampton. However, they’ve had a few convincing victories before this game. Liverpool have had an injury free international break, for once. This means Klopp will be able to field a full strength eleven at Vicarage Road on Saturday. I believe we should have enough with a lack of injuries and coming off the good solid win against Fulham, the lads should hopefully be up for it. Personally, I believe it will be a tight game and we will come away with 3 points after a 2-1 victory, Virgil Van Dijk and Firmino scoring the goals. Starting 11 prediction: GK Alisson, LB Robbo, CB VVD, CB Gomez, RB TAA, CDM Fabinho, CM Keita, CM Shaq, LW Mane, ST Firmino, RW Salah. – @liamwraithlfc22
A bit of fortune with injuries with injuries, for once, bodes well for Liverpool. Again, we must be wary of the threat Watford pose to the ‘bigger’ sides. A close game predicted by Liam, but two goals should be enough to clinch it.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT: 4 PREDICTIONS, 4 WINS!
Building on the excellent progress made last term, Watford have defied expectations in a season which has once again reinstated the credentials of former Málaga boss, Gracia (for more on Gracia’s rise in football, tactics and stats, click here).
Barring Watford’s forgettable results away to Southampton and Newcastle, I personally don’t agree with the notion that Watford have been inconsistent.
Losing 4-0 at home to Bournemouth was a blow, but you could argue quite easily that they are the better side at the moment, at least until Gracia has had a couple of seasons at the helm to fully impose his style on the London side.
Let’s not forget the three points secured against Tottenham, nor the admirable performance against Manchester United, and certainly there is little shame in losing at the Emirates against Unai Emery’s renewed Arsenal. Gracia’s Hornets will take heart from this and hope to cause another upset at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
This will be a tougher game than most realise, especially against a giant-killer of a manager in Gracia, and for this reason I’m going to go with a hard-earned 2-1 victory for the Reds.
My line-up prediction may surprise a few, but I’m going with: Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Lovren, Gomez, Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum, Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Naby Keita to start? I know, I know, even I’m scratching my head at that one, given the Guinean’s recent brush with injury. However, I actually believe this is the kind of game Keita could flourish in, although I would admit Shaqiri would be more the likely starter and has certainly earned his chances thus far.
Fancy a crack at the predictions? Let us know what you think in the comments below.