Walter Mazzarri concentrating on Watford form
Walter Mazzarri will not worry about what victory for his Watford side at Vicarage Road on Monday night might do to Liverpool’s top-four ambitions as the Premier League season comes to a head.
The Hornets host Liverpool in the relative safety of mid-table, already having reached the 40-point barrier which has traditionally proved enough to stay clear of trouble.
Mazzarri, though, has no intentions of letting any of his players take their eye off the ball over the run-in.
With fixtures still to come against Everton and Manchester City, Watford could well have a big say in the race for European qualification.
However, the Italian coach is not concerning himself with anything other than producing the required response to last weekend’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at relegation-battlers Hull.
“I am not looking at other people’s problems with the table. I am only interested in my team,” Mazzarri said.
“I want them to fight for every ball and to concentrate lots.”
The Watford boss added: “I want my players go on the pitch thinking they are in the Champions League final and then we will see afterwards how we have done.”
Defender Craig Cathcart is a doubt for the game because of a knee problem.
Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami, who has just returned to the squad after a spell out with a hamstring injury, will also be monitored.
Younes Kaboul (hamstring), Roberto Pereyra (knee) and forward Mauro Zarate (anterior cruciate ligament) all remain sidelined.
When Liverpool beat Watford 6-1 at Anfield back in November, the win took them top of the Premier League.
Since then injuries have scuppered their title bid, but with a top-four place still to play for Jurgen Klopp said the stakes were still high.
“Is there more pressure? No,” he said. “It’s the pressure you create by your performances and if we would have now 50-something points we would fight for nothing.
“Will there come pressure? Yeah, of course, on Monday before the game, nobody will feel like it is a friendly game, it’s a very important game.
“We need to be ready for this but we were often enough ready for this so nobody should be in doubt that we will fight there.
“In this moment, everything for us is possible, and that’s what we should try to show.
“I think when we met here months ago, when we were first or second in the table, I said the only thing we can do is to be in the battle for the interesting positions at the end of the season.
“The end of the season is now, of course, it is the last month of the season and we are in the battle. So what else do we want?
“Yes, it would be nice if we had 10 points more and fight with Chelsea for the title, but that’s not for us obviously in this moment.
“So we have to fight for what we can fight for and that’s a Champions League place. That’s really, really interesting, to be honest.”
Liverpool are set to be boosted by the return of midfielder Adam Lallana, who has been out since sustaining a groin injury playing for England on March 26.
Striker Daniel Sturridge is back in training after missing last weekend’s home defeat to Crystal Palace with a sore hip.