22 December 2006

Liverpool v Watford 12.23.06

10am. Available in the US live on FSC.

Liverpool: 3rd place; 31 points out of 18 games
Watford: 20th place; 11 points out of 18 games

Last 2 meetings (04-05 League Cup Semis):
1-0 Liverpool (a) 01.11.05
1-0 Liverpool (h) 01.25.05

Liverpool hasn’t played Watford since ‘99-00 due to their relegation from the Prem (before that season, they hadn’t played since Watford was in the old First Division back in ‘88-89). It’s worth a mention that the illustrious John Barnes was purchased from Watford (for £900,000!) in ‘87.

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 3-0 Charlton (a); 4-0 Fulham (h); 2-3 Galatasaray (a)
Watford: 1-2 Newcastle (a); 0-0 Reading (h); 0-0 Man City (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 6; Bellamy 4; Gerrard 3; Alonso, Crouch, Garcia, Gonzalez 2; Agger, Carragher, Fowler, Riise 1
Watford: Bouazza, Young 3; King 2; DeMerit, Francis 1

Referee: Phil Dowd

Guess at a squad:
Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio
Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Gonzalez
Crouch, Bellamy

There’s bound to be some changes rung, particularly with the postponement of the Arsenal game. No offense to Watford, but this should be the easiest match of the festive period.

I’d love to see Aurelio, Gonzalez, and Pennant get a start. All three are new to the squad this season, all three have had injury or form difficulties settling in, but Gonzalez and Pennant have looked better in the last few games, and Aurelio has finally returned to full fitness. All three should greatly benefit from a start, and have the ability to play well versus Watford.

In the same vein, it seems a must that Crouch will start. I can write the same paragraph about the strikers in every preview: Crouch, Bellamy, and Kuyt all deserve to start, all can work well with each other, and all bring different qualities into the mix. Seems unlikely that Crouch will sit on the bench after not starting since Portsmouth, and there’s also an excellent chance Fowler will get a game as well, with Rafa looking to rest players and given the rumor Robbie was due for a start against Arsenal.

Watford looks fairly certain to be relegated. They started well enough, but with the loss of Marlon King for the season, they’ve been unable to score in games they could have won. Ashley Young, Hameur Bouazza, and Jay DeMerit are all players I fancy (DeMerit mainly because he’s an American, but he’s also a fullback who can pop up with a goal), and the thought of Young bursting down the flanks at John Arne Riise frankly frightens me with the ease Riise’s been beaten at times.

I sound confident, especially given Liverpool’s current form, but Watford’s more than capable of getting a goal on the break if given the opportunity, and Aidy Boothroyd will have his team more than up for playing at Anfield. But if Liverpool plays the way there’s capable of playing, even if Watford sticks 10 men behind the ball (which they’re not prone to do), the squad should come away will all three points.

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