Sunday 18 February 2018

Mazzarri backs Heurelho Gomes to win battle of Brazilians against Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho, centre, and Roberto Firmino, right, have scored a combined eight league goals already
Philippe Coutinho, centre, and Roberto Firmino, right, have scored a combined eight league goals already

Watford boss Walter Mazzarri is backing his goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to win the battle of the Brazilians against Liverpool on Sunday.

Gomes will be tasked with keeping out fellow countrymen Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino at Anfield, who have already struck eight goals between them this season.

The deadly duo have helped Liverpool win eight of their last nine matches and climb to third in the Premier League table, level on points with Arsenal and Manchester City.

Mazzarri admits, together, Coutinho and Firmino form one of the best attacks in the division.

"Yes, in my opinion they are one of the best," Mazzarri said. "These are Brazilian problems so we hope they cancel each other out and it means we will not concede a goal.

"Gomes is a great goalkeeper so hopefully he will do his best on Sunday and we will see how it goes.

"If we look at their performances on the pitch, yes it answers the question by itself.

"Aside from just them, it's the way Liverpool plays, their performance, not only the forwards but the whole team."

Coutinho left Inter Milan in January 2013, just before Mazzarri took charge at the San Siro, but the Hornets head coach is well aware of the midfielder's talent.

"Coutinho is a player I like and his characteristics I admire a lot," Mazzarri said.

"He left just before I got to Inter. When he was at Inter he was very young. At Liverpool he matured a lot, he made a great step but it was the same concept as before.

"The forwards play well and better when they have the team behind them as well. So Coutinho probably found that better than at Inter."

If Liverpool boast one of the Premier League's most potent attacks, Watford have developed an impressive resilience at the back, having registered three consecutive clean sheets.

Michael Dawson's own-goal meant the Hornets overcame Hull last weekend without managing a single shot on target, but Mazzarri insists his side possess more than just a strong defence.

"It's about more than just defending well, it's about Watford creating and how many chances we make," Mazzarri said.

"It's not because I'm an Italian coach, I'm Walter Mazzarri, it's very important my team plays on the attack and at the same time is ready to defend.

"Against Hull we created seven or eight chances to score while Hull had only one."

Press Association

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