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    Liverpool vs Watford Match Preview


    Two of the Premier League's most in-form teams go head-to-head on an action-packed Sunday afternoon as a free-scoring Liverpool side take on an ever-improving Watford outfit at Anfield.

    The Reds will be looking to take advantage of Manchester City's slip up yesterday after the league leaders could only draw with Middlesbrough, while a Liverpool win would also extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 matches.

    Jurgen Klopp's side will face stern competition from The Hornets who have taken 14 points from a possible 21 as part of a run that has taken them to seventh-position in the league table.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool are enjoying their best start to a league season for eight years having won seven and drawn two of their opening 10 matches, while scoring 34 goals in all competitions in the process.

    The Reds have a slight advantage over their rivals in the title race having already faced Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and champions Leicester in their opening 10 matches, while also playing six of those games away from home.

    Klopp's side made it a three-way tie at the top of the table with victory over Crystal Palace last Saturday in another clinical performance, demonstrating pace and fluency in the attacking third despite being susceptible defensively to Palace's aerial bombardment.

    While Sunday's encounter may be seen by many as a home banker, the Liverpool boss will be only too aware of the threat Watford possess after they prevailed 3-0 at Vicarage Road against The Reds last December.

    Since that defeat, Klopp has developed a much greater idea of his best starting XI and it is unlikely to be changed significantly from the team that beat Palace 4-2 at Selhurst Park last Saturday.

    James Milner is set to return from illness to replace Alberto Moreno at left-back, while both Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum will by vying for the midfield spot that the German has occupied for the past three league games.

    Liverpool have an excellent record against Sunday's opponents since the start of the millennium despite last season's defeat, winning six of the past seven encounters which included a 2-0 win at Anfield in May.

    Watford

    Many pundits predicted that Watford would struggle this season after the club endured a difficult second half to 2015-16, which ended with the sacking of manager Quique Sanchez Flores after only a year in charge

    The highlight of the last campaign was a 3-0 victory over Sunday's opponents Liverpool in their final game before Christmas, although it was followed by a run of only four wins from the club's final 21 league games.

    Walter Mazzarri, who was appointed as the club's seventh manager in the past three years, also struggled to pick up points in the early stages of the campaign despite spending over £50 million in the summer on 14 different players.

    The Hornets, who picked up only one point from a possible nine in a winless August and were knocked out of the EFL Cup at home by League One Gillingham, have since turned the corner.

    Victories over West Ham and Manchester United started a sequence of four wins and two draws from the subsequent seven games and the run has allowed the club to climb to seventh in the Premier League table.

    Italian manager Mazzarri has retained the spine of the team that earned the club its highest top flight position for 29 years but also made some key additions in the summer including forward Isaac Success and winger Roberto Pereyra.

    Success, who misses the trip to Anfield with muscle problem, joined The Hornets for a club-record £12.5 million deal from Granada, while the signing of Pereyra from Juventus a month later exceeded that transfer by a further £500,000.

    Liverpool Team News

    Liverpool were dealt a blow in midweek with the news that Danny Ings will miss the rest of the season after the knee injury he sustained in the EFL Cup victory over Tottenham would require surgery.

    James Milner should return to The Reds' starting XI after recovering from illness in-place of Alberto Moreno, who deputised for the former England international in last weekend's 4-2 win at Crystal Palace.

    Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum have also both recovered from illness and will battle it out for the central midfield berth alongside captain Jordan Henderson.

    Sheyi Ojo remains on the sidelines with a back injury, while Joe Gomez is still not ready to return to the first-team despite being back in training after a year out with respective knee and achilles injuries.

    Watford Team News

    Watford may have to do without the services of defender Sebastian Prodl, who is doubtful after he sustained a muscle injury in last weekend's 1-0 victory over Hull City.

    Stefano Okaka faces a late fitness test on the hamstring injury he picked up in his only Premier League appearance this season, which came in the 4-2 win at West Ham.

    Isaac Success (muscle injury) and Craig Cathcart (groin) remain on the sidelines, while summer signing Brice Dja Djedje has not recovered from the foot problem that has prevented him from making his Watford debut.

    Chelsea utility player Kenedy, who signed for Watford in a season-long loan deal in August, has only appeared once this season and is being kept out by a knee injury.

    Head-to-head

    Watford have a poor record in matches against Liverpool having lost 18 of the 26 games they have played against Sunday's opponents, while only winning five.

    One of those rare victories came last December, when an early strike from Nathan Ake and two goals from Odion Ighalo gave Watford a famous 3-0 win over The Reds at Vicarage Road.

    It ended a run of five consecutive wins for the 18-time league champions in the head-to-head but it was followed by another Liverpool win in May when an understrength team prevailed 2-0 courtesy of goals from Joe Allen and Roberto Firmino.

    The sides first met in 1967 but it was not until 1999 until Watford achieved their only ever away victory over The Reds when a Tommy Mooney goal won all three points for Graham Taylor's newly-promoted side.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 3-1 Watford
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Watford Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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