Jurgen Klopp admitted the point Liverpool picked up at injury-hit Manchester United on Sunday "could have been more" as the Reds missed an opportunity to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League. United were forced to replace three players before half-time but frustrated the under-par visitors, who managed just four shots inside the box.
The stalemate saw Liverpool move a solitary point clear of defending champions Manchester City with 11 games left to play. And Klopp has been concerned by the performance levels of his table-toppers since losing to the Citizens at the start of January, saying, "We played around with no speed. We expect to play better football."
Roberto Firmino was an early casualty at Old Trafford and left the ground on crutches, almost certainly ruling the Brazilian striker out of contention here, whilst top scorer Mohamed Salah was withdrawn in the second-half following an ineffective effort. Elsewhere, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez remain sidelined and unavailable.
Watford breaking records
Gerard Deulofeu scored Watford's first top-flight hat-trick since 1986 as they boosted their hopes of a Europa League spot by cruising to victory at Cardiff last Friday night. It's also 32 years since the Hornets racked up five goals in the top-tier but Javi Gracia's men smashed both records with an efficient, effective and clinical performance in the Welsh capital.
Deulofeu put the Hornets in front on 18 minutes before two goals in the space of as many second-half minutes ended any hope of a fightback from the hosts, who played a role in their own downfall with some woeful defending. Troy Deeney added a late brace for the Hertfordshire club, who moved into seventh spot in the Premier League.
Gracia was understandably enthused post-match, saying, "I am happy with the way we are playing. "We are competing in all the games and with this ambition, I am sure we can achieve something different this season. Roberto Pereyra returned from injury to start in Cardiff, and Isaac Success and Sebastian Prodl are expected back in the fold this midweek.
Reds expected to seal routine win
Liverpool have taken top honours in 10 of their last 11 Anfield encounters (W10-D0-L1) against Watford since 1966, scoring 11 goals in the clubs' most recent two meetings here. in fact, since the Hornets returned to the Premier League they've shipped 20 goals in seven fixtures against the Merseysiders.
Liverpool1.30 have drawn four of their past five across all competitions. However, only one of those outings came at Anfield in the Premier League, where the Reds have largely been imperious this term. Only Man City and Leicester have stopped Jurgen Klopp's side here with the hosts notching at least three goals in five of their last six on home soil.
Watford12.50 have won three games on the spin coming into this contest and suffered only two defeats in 12 since (W5-D5-L2) early December - both against Big Six opposition. Indeed, the Hornets have finished pointless in each of their last six against teams above them in the table, and have W1-D0-L13 when travelling to the Big Six since returning to the top-flight.
Hornets can make their mark
Liverpool have recorded clean sheets in their past three encounters, but if we go back further, the Reds have leaked in six of 10 outings since Boxing Day. Four of their last seven guests to Anfield have managed to get on the scoresheet and Watford boast the ability to give the Merseysiders a few headaches in defence on Wednesday night.
The visitors have seen Both Teams To Score bets bank in six of eight encounters with the Big Six across all competitions in 2018/19. Javi Gracia's troops have registered at least twice in six of nine away days at clubs in 14th and are well capable of putting Liverpool under pressure. Therefore, BTTS has to appeal at 2.00 quotes.
Even so, there's more value to be gleaned by supporting a Liverpool success alongside Both Teams To Score at 2.76. Four of Watford's Premier League losses to Big Six sides this season have arrived via such a method.
Mark O’Haire says: back Liverpool to win and Both Teams To Score @ 2.76 in Liverpool v Watford