Watford kick off the new season with an enthralling home game against Liverpool, who are in all sorts of chaos as the Philippe Coutinho transfer saga rumbles on.
The talented Brazilian is set to miss the clash at Vicarage Road with a back injury, but the Reds will at least be buoyed by a series of impressive performances throughout pre-season.
The Hornets will be hoping to build on some excellent summer recruitment as they bid to win their first ever opening game of a Premier League campaign at the fifth time of asking, with an exciting new strike force of Andre Gray and Richarlison spearheading the attack.
Here are three key stats ahead of the game:
5 – Will Liverpool continue their opening day winning run?
While Watford will kick-off against Liverpool in search of their first ever opening day win in the Premier League, the Reds will be hoping to launch their campaign with a victory for the fifth time in a row.
This sequence is all the more impressive given that Liverpool failed to win their any of their previous four opening games, while the Reds will be hoping for a repeat of their thrilling 4-3 triumph at the Emirates Stadium at the beginning of last season.
Watford will draw comfort from the fact three of the Reds’ previous four opening day defeats in the Premier League have come away from Anfield, while the Hornets’ 3-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season still stands as Jurgen Klopp’s heaviest defeat as Liverpool manager.
7 – Marco Silva and home comforts
While former Hull City manager Marco Silva lost his last home game in charge of the Tigers in a dramatic 7-1 thrashing against Spurs, his arrival at the KC Stadium initially helped to revive the Yorkshire club’s fortunes.
Silva quickly turned the KC Stadium into a fortress after signing in January, going unbeaten in his opening seven home games (W6, D1) in a run that included an impressive 2-0 victory over Liverpool in February.
Watford will hope that Silva inspires similar home comforts this time around, particularly with the squad having been bolstered by a number of talented new signings during the summer.
5 – The Reds may prove hard to break down at Vicarage Road
Given Liverpool’s determined if poorly handled pursuit of Southampton centre back Virgil van Dijk, you could be forgiven for thinking that the side had a weakness in the heart of the defence.
While they may need strengthening in this department, Jurgen Klopp’s men actually kept four consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League at the end of the last season. By keeping the Hornets out on Saturday, they would record a fifth straight clean sheet for the first time since the distant days of Gerard Houllier back in 2002.
Given that Klopp’s side have also plundered 133 Premier League goals since the German’s arrival in October 2015, Watford will face an uphill task to keep the Reds at bay with or without Coutinho.
Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
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