Watford v Liverpool: Live matchday blog
Liverpool suffered a first league defeat of the season as they were comprehensively beaten by Watford at Vicarage Road. A brace from Ismaila Sarr and a strike from Troy Deeney did the damage, with all the goals coming in the second half.
Watford 3-0 Liverpool
A day to forget for Liverpool as they suffer a first league defeat of the season as Watford claim a comprehensive win at Vicarage Road.
Two Ismaila Sarr strikes and an effort from Troy Deeney saw the Reds beaten in the top-flight for the first time since January 3, 2019.
Four minutes to be added on.
Four minutes to be added on.
Doucoure makes way for Chalobah.
Doucoure makes way for Chalobah.
A big chance for Sarr to make it 4-0 but he curls it wide of the post.
He's then replaced by Pussetto.
Minamino comes on for Firmino.
Goal for Watford - Troy Deeney
Watford have a third - and it stems for poor defensive play from Liverpool.
A short back-pass is pounced upon by Sarr. Alisson holds him up, but he pulls it back for Deeney, who side-foots into the empty net.
Salah tries to slide Firmino in, but he's held off by Femenia.
Off the post!
Lallana chests a headed clearance down and shoots... the ball clips the outside of the post.
Now Origi comes on for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Another good opening for the home team, but Hughes' strike is beaten away by Alisson.
Lallana on, Wijnaldum off
Goal for Watford - Ismaila Sarr
Watford have a second as Sarr speeds in behind and clips the ball beyond the advancing Alisson.
2-0 to the home team.
Robertson almost picks out Firmino with a low ball across the face of goal, but Cathcart turns it over his own crossbar.
Goal for Watford - Ismaila Sarr
The home side take the lead as Sarr beats Robertson to Doucoure's low ball across the six-yard box and stabs it over the line.
The Reds' first shot on target sees Robertson sting the palms of Foster with a drive from Van Dijk's pass.
A scramble ensues inside the six-yard box, but the visitors can't turn the ball over the line.
Oxlade-Chamberlain tees up Salah on the edge of the area, but his attempted curler is headed away by Cathcart.
First chance of the second period requires Alisson to tip over from Sarr after he broke into space inside the area.
Back under way...
Watford re-start the game at Vicarage Road.
Analyse the first half with Opta...
Watford 0-0 Liverpool
Goalless at the break at Vicarage Road, but it's the hosts who've created the better opportunities.
Watford go close to opening the scoring as Deeney gets himself one-on-one with Alisson, but what's fast becoming a trademark save from the 'keeper thwarts him as he pushes the ball away at his feet.
The Hornets' captain tries to scoop the rebound into the unguarded net, though it drops wide.
The game's best chance so far.
Five minutes to be added on at the end of the first half...
Sarr shoots high over Alisson's crossbar from the edge of the box.
Deulofeu is carried from the field.
He's replaced by Pereyra.
Deulofeu has gone down holding his knee after being brushed aside by Van Dijk.
TV replays seem to show him getting his studs stuck in the turf as he went to ground.
Liverpool's first real sight of goal sees Salah crash an effort into the side netting after Oxlade-Chamberlain had lofted a pass back into the area from a half-cleared corner.
Watford give cause for concern as Deulofeu pulls the ball back for Doucoure just inside the box, but Van Dijk blocks his shot.
The hosts have started positively here.
Another half-chance for Deulofeu.
This time he curls onto the roof of the net after Watford broke.
Deulofeu cuts in from the left and strikes right-footed, but it's well wide of Alisson's near post and never troubling the goalkeeper.
Off we go...
Liverpool start the game and we're under way at Vicarage Road.
Come on you Reds!
Here come the teams...
Klopp on team selection and Gomez absence...
On two changes: “In football, you very often have to take a little bit of the momentum and try to use it. Oxlade obviously looked really lively and fresh, it was not a decision against Ox before the game – we thought Naby would make absolute sense. This time, we think this line-up makes sense. Hopefully we can show that.”
On Gomez's absence: “No [it's not serious]. He felt a little bit and that’s enough – we have two more centre-halves in the squad and we have to use the quality we have."
👀 Inside our dressing room ahead of #WATLIV https://t.co/0PHgFRCWNJ— LFC (Liverpool FC) 29th Feb 16:48
Here's how Opta expect the sides to line up...
Dressing room scenes...
🚨 TEAM NEWS 🚨 Two changes from last weekend. ➡️ Femenía & Sarr ⬅️ Dawson & Pereyra #WATLIV https://t.co/4vhG5kg0Hx— WatfordFC (Watford Football Club) 29th Feb 16:30
Liverpool make two changes for tonight’s game at Vicarage Road.
Dejan Lovren comes in for Joe Gomez, who is ruled out as a precaution due to a minor fitness issue, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the place of Naby Keita, who is absent due to a sore hip.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Subs: Adrian, Minamino, Lallana, Origi, Matip, Jones, Hoever.
Klopp and Gini field the pre-match questions
The gaffer and his No.5 take care of the pre-match media duties here at Vicarage Road...
'I love Sadio Mane'
But the following words are those of Watford and Senegal forward, Ismaila Sarr.
He told the matchday programme: "Mane is not only a Senegal teammate of mine but he is also my inspiration and my idol, and it will be perfect to play against him. For me, he is the best player in the world. For sure, the best African player in Europe. He’s our national team leader but he’s a nice guy, and I love him.”
LIVE from the studio and Vicarage Road as we get ready for #WATLIV 🟡🔴 Matchday LIVE, presented by @StanChart 📺 https://t.co/Gi4KLpXcd8— LFC (Liverpool FC) 29th Feb 15:55
Been watching the magnificent @premierleague for a long long time. Both these kids wearing 1990’s shirts are in the… https://t.co/PmI6FEmSLB— BryanSTL (Bryan STL) 29th Feb 15:23
Incoming: Liverpoolfc.com official weather report...
We can confirm it is cold at Vicarage Road this afternoon. Very cold.
However, our trusty sources tell us the rain is likely to have come to a halt by the time we get under way later today.
That being said, we'd suggest you wrap up warm for this one.
Watford v Liverpool stat attack
- The Reds have won 12 of the last 14 meetings with Watford home and away in all competitions – and 15 of the last 18.
- The two clubs have yet to produce a goalless draw in league meetings, with all 25 of those clashes coming in the top flight.
- Roberto Firmino has scored on each of his last two visits to Watford. Ian Rush is the only man to have netted for the Reds on three successive league trips to Vicarage Road (1984-86).
- A win today would see Liverpool equal the club record of 13 away league victories in a season, previously achieved on three occasions, the latest being last term.
- Since Nigel Pearson took charge of the Hornets, they have won four, drawn five and lost five of 14 games in league and cup.
Troy Deeney: Liverpool are relentless
Watford skipper Troy Deeney's programme notes today make for interesting reading.
"Any of the games we've won this year – United at home, in fact, and Villa, Wolves etc – we've had an aggressive shape about us and made things quite scrappy and uncomfortable," Deeney writes.
"That suits a sort of press-and-hit style when you're then using power and pace to move the ball quickly and create chances. It's the kind of football we know we've got in the locker because it was there under the gaffer.
"I guess there's no better exponents of that this season than Liverpool, here today. I've watched them a few times this season, including against West Ham on Monday. And never at any point did I think they weren't going to win that game.
"The word that always comes to mind is 'relentless'. If it's not the full-backs coming, it's the front three, and if you're able to keep out the waves of attacks then don't concede a corner because then it's the centre-backs.
"So they're going to just keep winning, right? Well if you think like that then it's not worth turning up. We'll be here, we'll be ready – just like we were at Anfield."
The stage is set...
The hosts come into this game without a win in their last five Premier League fixtures.
They have, however, collected 10 points out of a possible 15 at Vicarage Road since Pearson took charge.
Today's match will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK.
Two minutes of highlights will be available on LFCTV GO from 9.30pm, with extended action published at midnight.
You can listen to the game live with our free audio commentary service.
Global TV listings for the match can be found here.
Will the Reds make history?
A win at Vicarage Road today would see Liverpool set a new record for consecutive wins in the English top flight.
Monday's 3-2 result against West Ham was their 18th league victory in a row, which equalled Manchester City's streak in August to December 2017.
Klopp on midfield options
With Jordan Henderson sidelined by injury, the manager brought Naby Keita into his starting XI on Monday night and then introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain early in the second half.
Klopp was asked at his pre-Watford press conference whether Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain are currently in direct competition for a place in midfield - see his response below.
Reds midfielder Fabinho was a spectator due to injury when his teammates beat Watford 2-0 at Anfield earlier in the season.
And he saw enough that day to know Liverpool cannot afford any drop in their performance level this evening.
"I remember the game well: I was in the stands watching and the opponents had more opportunities than is usual against us, especially when we're playing at home," the No.3 told us during a chat at Melwood this week.
"We got an important win in that game, but we know if we were to give them the same amount of chances again the result might be different.
"We've had a good amount of time to prepare for this game and to recover from a tough one against West Ham. We know we'll need to make improvements from the game against Watford in the first half of the season."
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official: Jonathan Moss
VAR: Mike Dean
Assistant VAR: Darren Cann
The last meeting
As mentioned by Pearson, it was a 2-0 win for Liverpool when the teams met at Anfield in mid-December, with Salah claiming both goals on the day. Relive the highlights of that encounter below...
"Our approach this week is to try to get our own performance and our own application during the game as close to our maximum as possible," said Watford boss Nigel Pearson.
"When we played them before Christmas up at Anfield it was a really tough game. Our own level of performance was good. Their quality shone through and that won them the game, with an excellent first goal, for sure.
"We had our opportunities on the day and didn't take them. We've just got to try to make sure we play as close to our maximum as we can and if we do that, we can cause anybody problems.
"Then it's about whether the key moments in the game go your way or not."
Mohamed Salah is one goal away from becoming the first Liverpool player to score 20 goals in three consecutive seasons since Michael Owen achieved the feat in 2002-03.
Sadio Mane needs three more strikes to do the same.
Last time out
Liverpool come into this contest on the back of a hard-fought, topsy-turvy league game against West Ham on Monday night. Sadio Mane eventually settled it - and you can see the highlights below...
Tale of the tape
Take a look at the numbers behind each side's Premier League season so far...
Our photographer was invited to training on Wednesday to check in on those aforementioned pre-Watford preparations. Take a look at the session in the slideshow below...
Inside Liverpool's preparations
So, how exactly have the Reds readied themselves for this teatime kick-off? We sat down with assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders this week to get a detailed insight on how the squad is physically and mentally prepared in the days leading up to a game.
Click here to read the chat now.
Jürgen Klopp's preview
The Reds boss spoke to reporters at Melwood on Friday to discuss today's match at Vicarage Road and other LFC-related subjects.
Catch up on his press conference in full below...
Did you know?
This is the eighth time in Liverpool history they have played on February 29.
The Reds won three of their previous seven games on this date, but not since 1956. The last was a 2-2 draw with Leeds United in 2004.
Liverpool are expected to have the same squad to choose from as they did for Monday's 3-2 win over West Ham United at Anfield.
Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri remain unavailable for this one.
Watford are practically full strength, according to boss Nigel Pearson, with Ismaila Sarr and Kiko Femenia in contention again after injury and Daryl Janmaat back in training.
Confirmed teamsheets will land at 4.30pm GMT.
How it stands
A reminder of the Premier League picture...
All focus on Saturday 👊 🔜 @WatfordFC https://t.co/1MIAgun8xo— LFC (Liverpool FC) 26th Feb 18:33
Hello and welcome to our live matchday blog for Liverpool's Premier League clash with Watford this evening.
The leaders have the chance to go 25 points clear at the summit with victory against the Hornets, who are in search of a result that would boost their safety hopes at the other end of the table.
Follow all of the build-up, action and reaction at Vicarage Road right here today. Enjoy.