Liverpool ready to go back on top …take on Watford at Anfield

Liverpool can go top of the Premier League this after for the first time this year, and even if it is only for a couple of hours current leaders Manchester City will be feeling the pressure.

The match against Watford, managed by former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson, is the lunchtime kickoff at Anfield with City — who were 14 points clear in February — at Burnley in the afternoon.

Both games have big implications at each end of the table, with Watford (18th) and Burnley (19th) deep in the drop zone and resurgent Liverpool only a point behind defending champions City at the top.

Juergen Klopp’s reds are on a roll with nine wins in a row and a 14-match unbeaten run in the league that they will want to extend as they head towards what could be a title-defining meeting with City at the Etihad on April 10.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane return from the international break happy at least to be on the same side after Mane’s Senegal sealed their place at this year’s World Cup finals on Tuesday at the expense of Salah’s Egypt.

The last time Liverpool and Watford met in the league in mid-October, when Italian Claudio Ranieri was in charge at Vicarage Road, Liverpool won 5-0 to go back on top of the league.

Salah and Mane both scored then and Roberto Firmino bagged a hat-trick.

Hodgson has an almost fully-fit squad but, asked how he was looking at the trip, told reporters: “With trepidation, I suppose.”

Man City have won their last nine games against Burnley, who have lost their last three matches without scoring a goal, and Saturday’s match at Turf Moor should bring three points for Pep Guardiola’s side even if Burnley will be no pushovers.

“City’s a massive game for us. We can’t just sit back and write it off, that’s not our style,” said Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope.

City could be without England centre back John Stones, who was injured in the warm-up before a friendly against Switzerland last Saturday and missed Tuesday’s game against Ivory Coast.

Third-placed Chelsea, seeking a seventh successive win in all competitions, are at home to Brentford today in a West London derby while fourth-placed Arsenal visit Crystal Palace — managed by Gunners great Patrick Vieira — on Monday.

Both European champions Chelsea, 11 points off the lead, and Arsenal, a further five behind, have a game in hand on City and Liverpool.

At the bottom end, 17th-placed Everton travel to West Ham United on Sunday needing to put more daylight between them and the bottom three before a key away game at Burnley next Wednesday.

An improving Leeds United, 16th but now seven points clear of Watford, host Southampton today with the Saints hoping to end a run of three defeats.

Manchester United are at home to Leicester City today, while Tottenham Hotspur host Newcastle United on Sunday. – Reuters

EPL fixtures

SATURDAY:

Liverpool v Watford

Brighton  v Norwich

Burnley   v Man City

Chelsea   v Brentford

Leeds     v Southampton

Wolves    v Aston Villa

Man Utd   v Leicester

SUNDAY:

West Ham  v Everton

Tottenham v Newcastle

MONDAY:

Crystal Palace v Arsenal

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