Watford v Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho out for visitors
Last Updated: 12/08/17 2:26pm
Liverpool will be without Philippe Coutinho for their Premier League opener against Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Coutinho has dominated the headlines in the build-up to the clash, which is live on Sky Sports Premier League, with Sky sources reporting the Brazilian has issued Liverpool with an official transfer request following the owners' statement that he is not for sale.
Liverpool denied receiving any such request but the speculation surrounding the 25-year-old, who misses the game with a back injury, is an unwelcome distraction for Jurgen Klopp and his side ahead of the season opener.
Meanwhile, record signing Andre Gray is in line to make his Watford debut this weekend with Troy Deeney's availability in question owing to recent groin surgery.
The club captain faces a late fitness test as he bids to feature in Marco Silva's first Premier League game in charge but he is a doubt given the procedure was only a month ago.
Craig Cathcart misses out because of a knee injury, as does Christian Kabasele due to a hamstring problem. Mauro Zarate, also knee, remains a long-term absentee.
Joining Coutinho on the sidelines is Daniel Sturridge, who misses the trip to Vicarage Road with a thigh issue.
Adam Lallana (thigh) and Nathaniel Clyne (back) are also out, while Danny Ings (knee) was set to play for Liverpool U23s on Friday as his rehabilitation continues.
Summer signings Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson could make their competitive Reds debuts.
Watford have lost their last three Premier League meetings with Liverpool, with an aggregate score of 1-9 in the Reds' favour.
Emre Can's spectacular overhead kick sealed a 1-0 win for Liverpool at Vicarage Road last season on May 1, 2017.
Watford are yet to record an opening day Premier League win, losing twice and drawing twice.
Both teams have scored in all four of Watford's matches to start a Premier League season.
The Hornets are unbeaten in their last 10 opening day league games (W5 D5) since losing six in a row between 2001 and 2006.
Liverpool have won each of their last four opening day Premier League matches, after failing to win any of the previous four.
Three of Liverpool's four defeats on opening day in the Premier League have come away from Anfield (W8 D5 L3).
After remaining unbeaten in his first seven home Premier League games as a manager (W6 D1), new Watford boss Silva has lost his last two, most recently a 1-7 defeat to Spurs as Hull manager on the final day of last season.
The Reds have won their last three away Premier League games without conceding a goal - they last won four on the bounce without conceding between January and March 2002.
Klopp's heaviest defeat as Liverpool manager came against Watford in December 2015, with the Reds going down 3-0 at Vicarage Road.
Deeney has appeared in 75 of Watford's 76 Premier League matches since the start of 2015-16 but is likely to miss this match through injury.
I cannot see anything but a Liverpool win. I worry for Watford and have predicted them to get relegated - and nothing has changed after the Gray signing.
I fear there may not be space for Deeney at Watford after that signing and that's a huge worry because he's by far their best player.
Liverpool have been impressive in pre-season, beating Bayern Munich 3-0, and I expect them to inflict the same score on the Hornets.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-3 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
Liverpool are Sky Bet's 4/7 favourites with Watford up against odds of 19/4 to win and 3/1 to hold out for a draw. The Reds start the season as 12/1 fifth favourites for the title while their visitors are 15/8 fourth favourites for relegation. Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane share first goalscorer favouritism at 9/2 apiece while Gray is considered the hosts' main threat at 8/1 to net first on his debut.