Liverpool XI vs Watford: Predicted lineup, confirmed team news and injury latest

Liverpool are preparing to take on Watford in the Premier League as they look to place their title rivals, Manchester City, under pressure before their kick-off later in the day.

The international break is over and it has ended in heartbreak for Mohamed Salah after his 2022 Qatar World Cup hopes were dashed by Sadio Mane’s Senegal side when Egypt were defeated on penalties.

The hope for fans is that Salah will have returned to Merseyside filled with a desire to make his mark on the Premier League to make up for another international disappointment after Egypt were defeated in the AFCON Final by Senegal earlier this year.

For Mane, it’s incredible news and it’s a bit disappointing that the reaction to Salah missing out on the World Cup has overshadowed yet another wonderful achievement for him and his country.

Prior to this year, Senegal had never won an international trophy and now they have won their first and have booked their place in the Qatar finals and are seen as Africa’s best hope of winning the tournament proper.

Mane hasn’t had the best year in terms of personal performances at club level but he has been a shining light on the international stage for Senegal and hopefully, he can bring that form into a Red shirt and continue Liverpool’s trophy onslaught.

The major injury concern for Liverpool heading into Saturday’s clash at Anfield is Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fitness, with the Scouser pulling out of England’s international squad but he has stepped up his recovery.

However, despite the Daily Mail reporting that he has “a tailored training programme and should be ready for the Man City game”, Jurgen Klopp told his pre-match press conference that the fullback’s return to training today will give him food for thought.

Klopp’s men beat the Hornets 5-0 at Carrow Road in the return fixture so even if Joe Gomez or James Milner start at right-back, Liverpool should feel comfortable without the Premier League’s most creative defender.

He will (hopefully) be back in the starting XI when Liverpool travel to the Etihad to face Pep Guardiola’s side in what could be the Premier League title decider when you factor in how relentless these two sides are.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Beyond Alexander-Arnold’s expected absence, the backline should have very few surprises and given that Liverpool have conceded just one goal in their last five Premier League games, there’s no reason to change anything.

In midfield, Klopp will no doubt start Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago together as it’s the trio that offers him the most control, balance and leadership and they will also be the selection he goes for against City so he will want to give them some match rhythm.

That said, there’s a Champions League tie against Benfica wedged between the two Premier League games so the German may be tempted to start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Thiago to rest his legs and start the Spaniard on Tuesday instead of starting him three games in a row but time will tell.

Up front, Klopp has another interesting team selection on his hands. Sadio Mane and Mo Salah will both start and I think that has nothing to do with what Klopp wants or what he thinks of the matter.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp instructs Sadio Mane before the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2021.

After how the massive World Cup playoff ended between Egypt and Senegal, Salah will be desperate to get back to showing the world that he is still the best player in the world and Watford is the perfect team to do so against.

They’re a team he’s terrorised in the past and already this season, Mo scored a goal worthy of the Puskas by slaloming past defenders as if they weren’t there before slotting the ball home with ease.

He replicated the unbelievable goal he’d scored Manchester City in the game before which prompted Peter Drury to exclaim on commentary: “He wouldn’t do it again, would he? He HAS!

“Deja Vù all over again!”

Mohamed Salah Watford

So, if Salah and Mane do start that leaves Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino to fight for the remaining place in the side.

I wouldn’t mind Diaz starting on the bench because he has played a lot of football since he’s joined the club and could use a rest.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Gomez, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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