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PL Preview: Liverpool v. Watford

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  • Liverpool has outscored Watford 25-4 in 7 league games
  • Liverpool owns only 100% home record of any team in top 4 English leagues
  • Watford has 2 clean sheets in 18 road PL games of 2019

The Liverpool train continues to barrel down the tracks, and nobody has yet to stop it. With the Reds look to keep their 33-game unbeaten streak alive as they host Watford at Anfield on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET, live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

Liverpool will take the field fresh off the announcement of a new contract for manager Jurgen Klopp who signed on through 2024 along with his assistants Peter Kraweitz and Pepijn Lijnders. The Reds have the only 100% home winning record of any team in the top four English leagues, and they have collected an astonishing 46 points out of a possible 48 to this point.

The Premier League leaders welcome the basement-dwellers Watford, who have won just once this season and own just a single point from their last four games. Nigel Pearson is set to take charge of his first match as Hornets boss, with each of the last five permanent managers for the Hornets achieving a draw their first time out (including both Quique Sanchez Flores stints).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Despite the tall task for Watford, are still weaknesses for them to exploit. The Liverpool defense is banged up, with Joel Matip already missing and Dejan Lovren going down midweek in Champions League play. The Reds have not yet held a single clean sheet at home this season in 12 matches across all competitions, despite the pristine win-loss record. Given Klopp’s high-tempo style of play along with the defensive injuries, Watford may be able to find openings here and there, but the bigger question will the Hornets’ attack be able to keep up with how many they concede at the back.

Injuries/Suspensions

Liverpool – OUT: Dejan Lovren (muscle), Joel Matip (knee), Fabinho (ankle), Nathaniel Clyne (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Adam Lallana (knock).

Watford – OUT: Danny Welbeck (thigh), Tom Cleverley (heel), Jose Holebas (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Roberto Pereyra (muscle), Adam Masina (undisclosed), Sebastian Prodl (knee), Daryl Janmaat (knee).


Projected lineups

Liverpool – Alisson; Robertson, Gomez, van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Mane, Firmino, Salah.

Watford – Foster; Masina, Cathcart, Kabasele, Femenia; Capoue, Doucoure, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Sarr, Deeney.


What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Klopp on title race: “I have no interest in stats, not in this case. It’s just like it is, we have to play a lot of games. That’s the only way we can do it, we have no idea what is in May. We play tomorrow, that is enough. Watford have a new manager, we can throw our analysis in the bin!”

[ MORE: JPW’s PL picks ]

Hortets boss Pearson on impressions of Watford: “We know we’ve got to be more clinical in terms of converting opportunities when they come along and the players are aware of that. I saw some good fighting qualities but I’m aware of what our problems are at the moment. It’s important at the moment to try and galvanize the group and we go into games with a very competitive spirit with the intention to do anything to win games.”


Prediction

No Premier League side has managed to beat Klopp’s Liverpool since a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on January 3 that ultimately ended up sealing the title for Pep Guardiola. Liverpool’s impeccable league record this season matching up against Watford’s new manager and a host of injury problems means it would be unthinkable to imagine anything else than a comprehensive 3-0 Liverpool win for this top vs. bottom clash.

PL AT HALF: Goals, goals everywhere as Arsenal leads, Man City trails

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The Premier League’s six 10 a.m. ET kickoffs provided loads of late goals and a red card that’s a hilarious look for everyone but Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 


West Ham 1-1 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

The Irons went ahead through an Issa Diop header of a Robert Snodgrass header, as the Scottish playmaker is having a day at the London Stadium, but Calvert-Lewin nodded home a Lucas Digne corner before halftime.

Southampton 2-0 Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Saints’ rocket up the Premier League table continues at St. Mary’s, where Jan Bednarek and Shane Long have a two-goal lead on Nuno Espirito Santo‘s struggling men.

Brighton 1-0 Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Leandro Trossard smashed a shot home to give the Seagulls an advantage at the break.

Arsenal 1-0 Sheffield United – NBCSN [STREAM]

Gabriel Martinelli missed the first best chance of the match, cued up by exceptional passes from Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. The youngster didn’t miss his second, punching home a 45th minute deflected cross from Bukayo Saka.

Man City 0-1 Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

We told you Cenk Tosun‘s numbers were better than you thought, and the Everton loanee has nodded a Gary Cahill flick past Ederson at the Etihad.

Norwich 1-0 Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Bad, bad times for the Cherries; Steve Cook handled a ball in the box and was sent off, Teemu Pukki dispatching the penalty moments later.

Cook, wyd?

 

Mourinho slams “very bad” VAR decisions

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Jose Mourinho was not happy with the VAR decisions as Tottenham drew 0-0 away at Watford on Saturday.

Spurs had Paulo Gazzaniga to thank for grabbing a point at Vicarage Road as he saved Troy Deeney‘s second half penalty kick in a feisty encounter in Hertfordshire.

Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Mourinho hit out at VAR as he was asked about Ignacio Pussetto clearing the ball off the line in stoppage time as it seemed like Tottenham would clinch all three points.

“I know it was only a couple of millimetres but goal-line technology does not make mistakes like VAR. We have to accept it was not a goal,” Mourinho said. “I talk about Tottenham’s performance separate from refereeing and VAR decisions because I prefer not to comment. I leave the VAR decisions to the pundits. Gazza did a job for us and it’s an important save. I think we deserve to win this match. To lose would have been too harsh on the boys.”

So, what did Mourinho really think about VAR?

Grab your popcorn.

“They did not discuss that one that should have been a penalty and then they looked at one that was clearly not,” Mourinho said. “That’s also alongside the red cards that should have been. Very bad decisions. I love goal-line technology, I respect that.”

There were certainly some feisty tackles coming in from the likes of Doucoure and Capoue in central midfield with Japhet Tanganga caught late by Doucoure and VAR was used but no red card, or even a yellow, was shown, which would have seen the Frenchman sent off soon after as he picked up a quick yellow for another poor challenge.

Lucas Moura and Spurs wanted a penalty kick in the first half for a handball by Craig Cathcart in the penalty box and with a penalty given against Jan Vertonghen in a similar situation, you could argue that Mourinho was correct. However, Cathcart was a lot closer to the ball than Vertonghen was and had little time to react and his arm was in a natural position.

The big takeaway here: Mourinho clearly doesn’t like VAR.

With Spurs eight points off the top four, and potentially more than that after their rivals play this weekend, it appears Mourinho is now more focused on slamming officials and decisions against his team rather than their top four hopes.

It’s good to have the real Mourinho back.

Watch Live: Six Premier League games at 10am

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Six Premier League games are live at 10 a.m. ET with Arsenal and Man City in action, and you can watch every single game live online as some huge clashes are set up across the table.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Southampton host Wolves, Aston Villa travel to Brighton, Man City host Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Norwich square off in a relegation six-pointer, West Ham host Everton and Sheffield United travel to Arsenal.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the six games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Arsenal v. Sheffield United – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Man City v. Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Norwich v. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Southampton v. Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham v. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Watford, Tottenham in stalemate

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Watford and Tottenham Hotspur drew 0-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday as Paulo Gazzaniga saved Troy Deeney‘s penalty kick.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Both teams had big chances to win it in a scrappy, feisty game but Nigel Pearson and Jose Mourinho both seemed fairly happy with a point at the final whistle.

With the point Watford move two points clear of the relegation zone on 23 points, while Spurs are eight points off the top four.


3 things we learned

1. Spurs not able without Kane: Tottenham didn’t muster a shot on target in the second half and they lacked cutting edge in attack. There were plenty of nice touches from Lamela, Dele Alli and Son but you didn’t feel like a goal was inevitable when they attacked. That is because Harry Kane is out injured and Spurs have now gone three Premier League games without a goal and Kane has missed two and a bit of those. That is no coincidence. Mourinho will now be knocking on Daniel Levy’s door to bring in a new striker in January to bolster his lackluster attack.

2. Watford steady but miss big chance: They are unbeaten in their last six games in the Premier League, the first time they’ve ever done that, but Pearson and Watford will be feeling a little miffed they didn’t make it four wins on the trot. Deeney’s missed penalty kick was the big moment but Watford hung in there, battled hard and although they didn’t create too many clear cut chances, they looked solid and steady. Watford play Villa, Everton and Brighton in their next three ahead of a really tough run of games so they need to get points on the board as quick as they can while they’re in this good form.

3. Tottenham’s defense still shaky: Don’t let the clean sheet fool you. Tottenham were still all over the place at the back. Vertonghen gave away a penalty kick, Alderweireld was bullied by Deeney and their full backs had a tough time locking down Ismaila Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu. With Kane out and goals hard to come by Mourinho will need to rely on his defense to keep plenty of clean sheets if they’re going to have any chance of finishing in the top four or going deep in the Champions League. He won’t be holding his breath.

Man of the Match: Ismaila Sarr – Could be a big blow for for Watford as he seemed to pull his hamstring late on, as the Senegal winger gave Tanganga a torrid outing. His pace, power and clever passing and crosses caused Tottenham problems.


Early on Lucas Moura called for a penalty kick for a handball on Craig Cathcart but played continued and Gerard Deulofeu broke free but his shot was just wide.

Spurs started brightly and looked dangerous through Son but Watford were also a threat on the counter once they got going as Ismaila Sarr blazed over from a good position.

Son’s deflected shot was well saved by Foster and the game turned into an edgy, disjointed affair with plenty of yellow cards dished out.

Dele Alli then did brilliant to play in Moura but Foster saved well as Tottenham’s front four were looking bright and interchanging well as Son smashed a shot over.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Both teams had big chances after the break as Doucoure was played in by Sarr but couldn’t convert, then Dele Alli nodded Son’s superb cross over the bar. Troy Deeney’s shot was deflected wide as the game turned into an open encounter.

Given the touchy nature of the game it was inevitable a melee would break out at one point as Doucoure and Winks were both booked for their part in a large scuffle between both sets of players.

Son then raced clear but smashed over the bar from a tight angle but Watford then passed up a glorious chance to go ahead. Jan Vertonghen was booked for a handball when blocking Gerard Deulofeu’s shot and after a VAR check confirmed the penalty kick, Gazzaniga saved Deeney’s spot kick to keep the scores level.

Sarr pulled up injured which will be a big worry for Watford but Ignacio Pussetto came on to make his Premier League debut and made a big contribution.

Late on Spurs created a couple of half chances as Lamela couldn’t bundle the ball over the line twice, with Pussetto the hero as he cleared, as Watford held on for a point.