This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Liverpool will face Watford later today as they look to put themselves 11 points clear at the top of the table. Whilst the Hornets are struggling as they lie in 20th place, they will need to be sure to watch Gerard Deulofeu.
In contrast to the Reds, the London outfit have been particularly disappointing so far this campaign. After 16 matches, they have just one win to their name, and they are already on to their third manager of the season in Nigel Pearson.
However, considering that the former Leicester boss’ first game will be against the Anfield club, Jurgen Klopp will need to be careful of the notorious new manager bounce. Pearson will be looking to get off to the best start possible and, with nothing to lose – they are already six points adrift at the foot of the league – they could be a dangerous proposition. If they are to get anything from the match, they will need Deulofeu to be on top form. This is the man the Reds need to stop.
25-year-old Deulofeu is somewhat of an enigma. Sometimes, he can be truly awful. For example, against Leicester, he picked up a WhoScored rating of 5.71 and was a peripheral figure. On other occasions, though, he can be a handful to deal with, as Norwich found out when he picked up a goal and an assist against them.
In that match, his best attributes were on show. He completed five dribbles, more than anyone on the pitch, whilst he also managed one key pass as well. He likes a shot, as his three in that clash illustrated, and the Canaries’ defence will have been happy to see them back of him once the match had ended.
Against Daniel Farke’s side, he played at centre-forward, as he has done for the majority of this campaign. He has made most of his appearances as a winger during his career, but he appears to have transitioned to a striker which we first saw last year. It ended up being a prolific term for the former Barcelona man, with him managing 10 goals and five assists in the Premier League, whilst he also scored two goals in three matches in the F.A Cup.
It is not as though the Vicarage Road outfit do not have any strikers on their books – both Andre Gray and Troy Deeney, the latter of whom has been injured, are available to Pearson for example – but clearly the previous managers felt £22.5m-valued Deulofeu – as per Transfermarkt – can do a better job than them. The new man in the dugout may have a different idea for his star man, though, and that could see him revert to his favourite position.
It will be interesting to see where the four-time Spain international lines up against the Reds, but wherever he plays he is the man that Liverpool need to keep quiet, because he can be a real danger on his day.
In other news, David Ornstein gives up an update on Liverpool’s pre-season plans for next year.