The anticipation of the new football season is usually enough to have even the most pessimistic of football fan trembling with excitement at their team’s chances. For Liverpool, the prospect of seeing the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and new man Mohamed Salah all linking up in red shirts is mouth-watering.
There are caveats – aren’t there always as a Liverpool fan. Philippe Coutinho remains convinced that a move to Barcelona is his preferred destination this term, and you wonder if the Reds’ board are simply playing hardball over the fee having already rejected a £98 million bid for the Brazilian. After all, the signing of Salah was surely an act of proactivity in Coutinho’s likely absence.
We wave a heavy-hearted goodbye to Lucas Leiva, a fantastic servant to the club whose time at Anfield just came to a natural end. He leaves with fond memories intact, however.
So yes, it’s been an unusual transfer window for Liverpool, and if Coutinho does leave you would have to say it has been a negative one from a Reds perspective. We lose a creative talisman – and remember that Lallana is injured and may miss the first couple of months of the campaign, and as yet no central defensive reinforcements have been sought. Jurgen Klopp can’t be satisfied with the Matip-Lovren-Klavan triumvirate, can he?
So there are still plenty of questions to be answered, and unfortunately there is not long until a) Watford welcome us to Vicarage Road on Sunday for the Premier League opener, and b) we travel to Hoffenheim for the Champions League qualifier on Tuesday. In Klopp we trust, of course, but let’s hope he’s got a few aces up his sleeve.
Liverpool Team News
This is not how Klopp must have envisaged his start to the campaign going. You want all of your best players available in order to get off to a quick start; unfortunately, Liverpool will not be at full strength for the foreseeable future.
It’s doubtful that Coutinho will play given the current transfer speculation and the back injury he is nursing. Lallana has no given date for his return from a thigh injury – it could be September before we see him back, while Nathaniel Clyne and Daniel Sturridge both have thigh injuries as well; neither is expected to make the Watford game.
At least club captain Jordan Henderson is ready to put his injury hell behind him. The England man has shaken off a virus and the foot injury that dogged him last season, and is ready to lead this Reds side from the front.
It’s a shame that last season had to end, from a Liverpool perspective, as Watford were on a horror run of form. They lost their last six games in a row, conceding sixteen goals and scoring just three.
But that was a group of players disillusioned by former boss Walter Mazzarri, and in has come Marco Silva who will no doubt have been a breath of fresh air at the club. He’s brought new players in and a fresh energy, so this Watford outfit will be a particularly different beast.
They have kept four consecutive clean sheets in pre-season against Viktoria Plzen, Eibar, Aston Villa and Real Sociedad, and so already Silva has added a layer of steel to his new side.
Watford vs Liverpool Betting Tips
If Watford are better defensively under Silva, and Liverpool are without the probing of Lallana and Coutinho, it is perhaps fair to expect a low-scoring kind of game at Vicarage Road.
In that sense, the playing field is levelled somewhat and so Watford, in front of an expectant home crowd and with a buzz about them, will be a tough nut to crack.
Obviously in these situations our heart says to back Liverpool – it does every game, for that matter. But with one hand on our wallet we must think sensibly from a betting perspective, and so our pick of the punts here is Watford with a +1.00 Asian Handicap at 13/14.
If we are following in our narrative of a typical early season, lack of action type game, then really the 11/10 available on Under 2.5 Goals cannot be overlooked.
The cards markets aren’t usually ones we plunder for profit, but there is enough logic to get involved here. Liverpool have an important Champions League game to attend to on Tuesday, so the boys in red won’t be flying into tackles all over the place. And early season games are typically less feisty as those involved feel their way back to full throttle action.
So, the Under 3.5 cards market looks appetising at 11/10.