Liverpool 2-0 Watford FC
It took them a while to get going in this one but there’s no denying Liverpool are Premier League champions-elect – even before Santa Claus has arrived in town!
Only Manchester United have taken points off the Merseysiders this side of Christmas and that is a record Jurgen Klopp and his players can be rightly proud of.
Yes, they had an element of luck at Anfield in this lunch-time kick-off, but few could argue they didn’t deserve to win against basement battlers Watford.
Highlights of the game
The Premier League 2019 highlights were provided by two moments of excellence from 2018 Footballer of the Year Mo Salah.
Until seven minutes before the break, Watford had frustrated the hosts and maintained their organisation in Nigel Pearson’s first game in charge.
Indeed, they probably should have been in front just before the opening goal when the unmarked Abdoulaye Doucoure fluffed his chance from a pull-back to the penalty spot.
Sixty seconds later, a through ball from Sadio Mane found Salah, who showed excellent footwork and curled a sublime shot into the far corner.
When Ismaila Sarr missed a golden chance to equalise from a pass from former Everton man Gerard Deulofeu, Watford must have known two gilt-edged opportunities had gone begging.
Early in the second half after VAR had ruled out a Mane header, Watford again should have been level, but Alisson saved from the clean-through Deulofeu.
The introduction of Andy Robertson instantly improved Liverpool’s attacking play, yet still, the home side could not get the comfort of a second goal and Watford struck the woodwork from a corner.
It was to prove one missed chance too many in this top versus bottom clash as Salah sealed victory and an 11-point lead at the summit – for now at least – with another sumptuous finish.
Substitute Divock Origi scuffed his shot from a Mane cut-back but Salah cleverly flicked the ball between his legs and touched the ball past Christian Kabasele on the goal line.
There are plenty of positives for Watford and Pearson to take from his first game in charge. Although history suggests otherwise if they can produce more showings like this and convert their chances, survival and a Houdini act cannot be ruled out.
As for Liverpool at the other end of the table, they head to Qatar for the World Club Championship in brilliant form and with the SBOBET Premier League 2019 betting odds making them certs to end their title drought. They have been flawless during the first half of 2019-20.
Salah has now been involved in nine goals in five Premier League games against Watford, scoring eight. Meanwhile, Mane has four Premier League assists against the Hornets.
Liverpool have kept consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since March.
Watford have won just nine points from 17 games this season; each of the nine previous teams to accumulate nine points or fewer after 17 Premier League matches were eventually relegated.
Liverpool are unbeaten in eight league games against Watford, outscoring the Hornets 27-4 (won seven, drawn one).
Watford have lost a club record 19 top-flight matches to Liverpool.
Liverpool are on a club-record top-flight unbeaten run of 34 consecutive matches (won 29, drawn five), the third-longest run in the history of the competition after Arsenal (49) May 2003-October 2004 and Chelsea (40) from October 2004-October 2005.
Liverpool have won their last 16 home top-flight matches – they’ve only had one longer run at Anfield in their history, winning 21 in a row between January and December 1972.
Liverpool boast the only 100% winning home record in the top four English divisions.
Watford have won just one of their last 21 league games dating back to last season (drawn seven, lost 13). Their sole victory this term came against second-to-bottom Norwich.
They are the only side in the top four English divisions yet to reach a points tally of double figures.
The Hornets have lost their last 13 top-flight matches against teams starting the day top of the league.
While Liverpool now head to Qatar, they will keep behind some players for a League Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
They are in action in the Club World Cup semi-final the following day.
Their next league game is against high-flying Leicester City on Boxing Day.
Watford are next in action next Sunday (December 22) as they entertain Manchester United before travelling to newly promoted Sheffield United, also on Boxing Day.
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