By the time the game begins on Monday evening, both Manchester United and Manchester City will have already played. With Swansea and Middlesbrough their respective opponents, it is far from beyond the realms of possibility that Liverpool will have dropped to fifth place by the time they kick-off.
Arsenal will also have already played, but they face a tricky trip to in-form Tottenham, and even a victory there would put them three points behind the Reds, but with a game in hand.
The pressure, then, is likely to be on Jurgen Klopp’s team to produce a result, and Watford will be no pushover. In their last match, Watford lost 2-0 to ten-man Hull City, and captain Troy Deeney apologised to fans afterwards for the dismal display: the Hornets will be expecting a reaction.
The Reds, too, come off the back of a defeat to Crystal Palace, and will want to prove a point themselves.
Liverpool won the reverse fixture at Anfield 6-1 earlier in the season, and on the day they could easily have reached double figures. This game, though, is likely to be a cagier affair; a lot has changed since then.
Lacking creativity in the absence of Sadio Mane, Liverpool should be boosted by the return of Adam Lallana on Monday night. The midfielder was injured on international duty for England, and has been a huge miss. His influence on games from the centre of the midfield has been sorely missed.
Daniel Sturridge has also made an unexpected recovery and trained earlier today. He might well be needed to come off the bench and provide some inspiration, as he did against Stoke City recently.
Jordan Henderson remains out injured, and could well be unavailable for the rest of the season. With Lallana back, Emre Can is likely to play deepest in the midfield three.
Whilst acknowledging the 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby last night, Jurgen Klopp was keen to stress in his press conference that the focus from his team can only be on themselves. Win their remaining games and the Champions League will be assured.
“Last night did not change a lot (in term of the top four race),” Klopp said, “It is all about us: we don’t have 100% influence, but it makes sense to focus on us”.
He also made the point that “If we win we’re in third position again”, but there is no doubt that his team will be under pressure to get all three points when they enter the field. Winning these sorts of games in the Premier League this season has proven to be easier said than done for Liverpool.
The official announcement of Steven Gerrard’s appointment as coach of the under-18’s team for next season also was mentioned, despite news breaking unofficially a few weeks ago.
“When I saw the excitement in Steven’s eyes I was really happy about giving him this fantastic opportunity,” Klopp began, adding, “It’s a fantastic thing that he wants to be a manager in the future. He has all he needs to become a good one”.
These are the games that teams who qualify for the Champions League must win. Liverpool must find a way to overcome the pressure that will be on them, and simply find a way past Watford.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 20:00 GMT and is live on Sky Sports.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Craig Pawson – last seen in charge of the controversial FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Manchester City last Sunday, Pawson will be hoping for a quieter evening in this one.
Pawson has refereed Liverpool in three league games this season, all at Anfield, with Liverpool winning them all. These were the 4-1 win over Leicester, the 1-0 over Manchester City and the recent 2-1 victory against Burnley. He was, however, also at Anfield for the FA Cup defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in January.
He has only officiated Watford once so far, in their 1-1 home draw with West Ham at the end of February.
Watford have lost four of their last five Premier League matches against Liverpool, but beat the Reds 3-0 at Vicarage Road last season.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Can, Lallana, Wijnaldum; Firmino, Origi, Coutinho
Watford: Gomes; Janmaat, Prodl, Britos, Holebas; Behrami, Cleverley, Capoue; Amrabat, Deeney, Niang
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