Roy Hodgson wants Watford to view tomorrow’s game at Liverpool as an opportunity to perform on one of football’s biggest stages, as they go in search of some unlikely points to boost their chances of Premier League survival.
Earlier in the season, Jurgen Klopp’s men put the Hornets to the sword at Vicarage Road with a 5-0 thrashing on Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge of the club.
Now under the stewardship of Hodgson, Watford remain mired in the relegation battle and go into the match at Anfield this weekend desperate to close the gap between themselves and 17th place Everton.
However, Hodgson knows the pressure on his attacking players to take their chances will be greater than in most games, due to the way he expects the match to pan out, but still believes they are capable of causing problems, if they approach the game in the right way.
“Even the people who would have been given village idiot status in the past will tell you that you can’t win without scoring,” said Hodgson. “So we need goals. We like to think that we’ve got players there who can score goals, but then we’ve got to give them the chances. They’re not going to score unless they get enough of the ball, they’re not going to score unless our quality is good enough, they’re not going to score unless their movement’s good enough and they’re not going to score unless, when the chances come their way, they have the composure and the ability to convert the chance.
“The one thing we have to accept going into the Liverpool game is we’re not going to be have 50 per cent possession for each team. They’ll have the ball more than we will because they’ve got more quality there and more ability to keep the ball. We’ve got to accept that our chances will probably be fewer than theirs, so that puts more pressure on your goal scorers to take that chance when it comes his way. But there’s nothing new in that.
“I think it’s an opportunity. I would like to see it as a chance for the players. Not all of them will have played many games at Anfield or gone to Anfield that often and it is a temple of football. So it’s a great experience really to go and play there. And there’s nothing to stop us playing well and working hard and making life extremely difficult for Liverpool and there’s nothing to stop us either taking the chances we create, even if they are fewer than the chances Liverpool create and that’s the way we’ve, we’ve got to see it.”
Even if his side were to cause an upset and claim a first win at Anfield since 1999, Hodgson knows that it would not solve all of his team’s problems.
Whatever the result tomorrow, he has called for composure from his squad ahead of what, on paper at least, looks like a more winnable game, at home against Leeds United next week.
“Whatever happens after the game, we’ve got to settle down. If it is a win, it will be a bit euphoric, and you’ll be saying this is the first time in 25 years, we’ve got to forget that because Leeds don’t care about that,” he said.
“Leeds don’t care whether we beat [Liverpool], or when the last time was. And if we lose, we’ve got to come to terms with the fact that game unfortunately has gone by and we didn’t get what we wanted. But now we’ve got Leeds coming up, so let’s start again because we can’t afford to not give our best.”