Watford vs Liverpool | Saturday 16th October 2021, 12:30 | BT Sport
Club football returns and some Watford players will return to find a new manager. The Vicarage Road trapdoor was opened and Xisco Muñoz departed through it. In comes Claudio Ranieri to try and keep the Hornets in the top-flight.
And it’ll be no easy start for the Italian, fielding a team up against Liverpool, who are the only side left with an unbeaten record after seven games. Although the veteran manager has won four of his five Premier League home games against Liverpool.
But Ranieri will be without Peter Etebo until the New Year, and he’s joined on the sidelines by Christian Kabasele and Francisco Sierralta.
Liverpool’s breathless 2-2 draw with Man City leaves them in second, a point behind early pacesetters Chelsea. But the Reds are on a fine run of form, they’re unbeaten in their last 17 in the top-flight (W12 D5).
But they don’t have fond memories of Vicarage Road. The last time they played here, they lost 3-0 in February 2020, which saw their club record 44-game unbeaten league run, and their joint Premier League record 18-game winning streak come to an end.
They’ll be hoping for better on Saturday lunchtime but are likely to have to do it without first-choice keeper Alisson and linchpin Fabinho, who were involved in the late scheduled South American World Cup qualifiers. While there are doubts over the fitness of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota.
The betting angles
Now it’s about finding an angle into this one with Liverpool, as you’d expect, short-priced favourites to leave with three points.
Jurgen Klopp’s side leads the way for shots (147), shots on target (53) and goals (17), so you’d expect them to be on the front foot against a Watford defence that could be makeshift, with Craig Cathcart drafted in as cover.
With the Reds’ high volume of chances created, then that can only point towards corners, especially with how high both full-backs like to play. Again, no side in the top-flight can match their tally of 66 – an average of 9.4 per game.
I wouldn’t usually go for a -4 line, but this one has plenty of merits, starting with the number above because Watford are only averaging 4.1 corners per game – the third-fewest.
Liverpool have taken five more corners than their opponents in five of their seven Premier League matches this season, including in all three away games. In those road trips, they’ve hit 11, 10 & 11 corners, which is something to consider here.
When you see the corner counts in the Reds’ away games it starts to stack up: 11-3 at Norwich, 10-2 at Elland Road and 11-2 against Brentford. They’re dominant in possession and chances, which is part of the reason why they dictate these numbers.
Watford don’t get blown away on the corner front too often, but they’ve only taken more corners than one opponent this season – Norwich. And that’s a telling tale.
The only top-seven side from last season that the Hornets have faced so far have been Spurs. At the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they lost the corner count 10-3, showing that when they come up against the bigger sides, there might be a gulf in class – and that should show here.
At 11/10 with several firms, it looks a fairly good way in, especially if it’s a more conservative approach taken by the hosts to try and keep Liverpool at bay for as long as possible. If that’s the case, then the visitors could start to rack the corners up.
I will also point out 10+ Liverpool corners is 7/2 on Sky Bet. They’ve hit double figures in five of seven league games this term, so is something I’ll keep an eye on.
One final thing here. Paddy Power have Liverpool to win both halves and to take most corners in each half at 4/1, which is something I can see as well. They’ve been rampant in front of goal, scoring in both halves of all five away games in all competitions.
Jon Moss is in the middle, which slightly detracts from the cards. He’s shown just 13 yellows and 1 red in six this season. And his last Liverpool game saw him keep his cards in his pocket.
I did consider some match-ups in this one that could result in a card. Ismaïla Sarr is the second-most fouled player in the league, he’s up against Andy Robertson, who likes to get forward. So, 7/1 on the Scot does look tempting. The left-back was booked v Israel in the international break and during Liverpool’s win at Brentford.
The other two possibilities were whoever starts at right-back for Liverpool up against a spiky Emmanuel Dennis, who has committed the most fouls in the league – Unibet has Alexander-Arnold at 8/1 in case he starts.
Then the final one was William Troost-Ekong. I can see Salah getting the better of Danny Rose, leaving his left centre-back exposed to the Egyptian. The Nigerian defender looks a tempting price at 13/2 with Bet365.
Now, there’s a 30/1 shot I’m putting up, which most will think I’m crazy for playing, but it has its reasons. I’m not going to say what it is straight away and see if you can piece it together.
Sadio Mané has 99 Premier League goals, so one here takes him to a special milestone. If he scores at Vicarage Road, he’ll become just the third African to reach 100. Plus, he could do it without scoring a penalty, some going!
The Senegalese star has been involved in nine goals v Watford (five goals, four assists) during his career, and with how Ranieri is expected to set up quite pragmatically, there could be plenty of joy for the Mané and co.
He’s bagged in three of his last four outings in the Premier League, including the opener v Man City. Plus, he was on the scoresheet in Senegal’s 4-1 win over Namibia.
Mané is flying, so up against a Watford side that have failed to keep a clean sheet, you’d expect him to find the net.
I think you can build on the 11/8 price (William Hill) he is to score at any time. So, considering a goal here would be his 100th in the top-flight, then I’d expect him to mark it with a celebration worthy of the milestone.
Now you see where I’m going. Using Build #YourOdds with William Hill, Mané to score and be booked is 30/1. That’s huge considering he could either take his shirt off or run into the away end to celebrate such a goalscoring feat.
So, I’m rolling the dice by putting some loose change on that because it’s got legs. Even if he doesn’t score here, it’s on until he does.
Watford vs Liverpool – Liverpool -4 corner handicap (11/10 Sky Bet)
Watford vs Liverpool – Sadio Mané to score and be carded (30/1 William Hill)