MX23RW : Sunday, February 24 06:19:14
Dec 4, 2018 at 8pm UK at ​Vicarage Road
Attendance: 20,389
Man CityManchester City
Doucoure (85')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Sane (40'), Mahrez (51')

Preview: Watford vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday night's Premier League clash between Watford and Manchester City, including team news, predicted XIs and head-to-head records.

Manchester City could temporarily move five points clear at the top of the Premier League table when they take on Watford in a midweek clash at Vicarage Road on Tuesday.

The champions are still unbeaten after 14 games of the season and come up against a Watford team now sitting in midtable following a dip in form.


Watford manager Javi Gracia pictured on August 26, 2018© Reuters

Watford fans may be beginning to fear a repeat of last season after seeing their promising start to the campaign fizzle out in recent weeks.

Having won their first four Premier League games, the Hornets have managed to pick up maximum points on just two occasions from their subsequent 10 outings, slipping down to 10th place in the process.

It is far from panic stations for Watford - they remain closer to the top four than the relegation zone, after all - but they welcome the champions to Vicarage Road on Tuesday night having picked up just one point from their last four outings stretching back to the end of October.

The club's board clearly feel that Javi Gracia is better equipped to avoid a collapse than his predecessor Marco Silva having awarded the manager a new contract in the midst of that run, but recent results will have begun to raise one or two concerns.

Just one point from matches against struggling duo Newcastle United and Southampton before the international break was then followed with a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Liverpool and a 2-0 loss to Leicester City at the weekend.

The Hornets have not lost three Premier League games in a row since last Christmas, and it may be a case of once bitten, twice shy on Tuesday night having been thrashed 6-0 on Man City's last visit to Vicarage Road.

Mixed fortunes at home this season suggest a repeat result could be an outside possibility, with Watford having shipped 11 goals in front of their own fans already this season; only four clubs have conceded more.

Despite that, Watford would be sixth in the table if only home form counted, having also picked up four wins at Vicarage Road - including one against Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the campaign to end Spurs' 100% start to the season.

The scalp of City would be a much bigger one, though, and there is no doubt that Watford's home form has dipped; they have lost three of their last four league outings in front of their own fans, which is the same number as they had suffered in their previous 15.

Vicarage Road has been something of a bogey ground for defending Premier League champions in recent years, though, with Watford having beaten the holders at home in each of the past two seasons - against Leicester City in 2016-17 and Chelsea last term.

Recent Premier League form: WWLDLL

Man City

Pep Guardiola watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Bournemouth on December 1, 2018© Reuters

Try as they might, Manchester City cannot seem to shake Liverpool off their tails at the moment, but Tuesday gives them another chance to pile the pressure on their closest challengers.

With the Reds not in action until Wednesday - when they take on Burnley at Turf Moor - City would go five points clear at the top of the table with victory in this match, just as they did at the weekend until Liverpool's dramatic late Merseyside derby winner.

City were not at their scintillating best against Bournemouth and were forced to survive a minor scare at the Etihad, but in the end Saturday's 3-1 win over the Cherries was still relatively comfortable.

Pep Guardiola made changes for that match and is expected to do so throughout a busy December, although such is the strength in depth at his disposal that the quality of the XI will rarely fluctuate too much and, given the gap between City and almost every other team in the league at the moment, they would still go into most matches as heavy favourites even fielding a second-string side.

The Spaniard might bear that in mind with one eye on Saturday's game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, particularly considering that their last two away league games against Watford have seen them score 11 goals without reply.

Watford are not alone in suffering heavy defeats at the hands of City, though, and you have to go back to the very first season of league football in 1888-89 for the last time a team had a better goal difference after 14 games of an English top-flight season than City's current tally of +37.

Whether City can go on to emulate those Preston North End Invincibles from 120 years ago remains to be seen, but they have so far only enhanced their argument to be regarded as the greatest Premier League team of all time despite the increased competition for top spot this season.

Guardiola's side will be looking for a seventh successive league win on Tuesday night, while they are now unbeaten in 20 matches which include 17 victories and three draws.

Two of those draws have come away from home this season - accounting for City's only dropped points of the campaign - but their form on the road is hardly a weakness having gone 13 Premier League away games without defeat, stretching back to January.

Indeed, City have not even conceded an away goal since August and have let in only one in a seven-match streak which dates back to April.

It is difficult to find any chink in the armour of this Man City side in truth, and Watford have the unenviable task of being the next club to attempt to stop the rampant champions.

Recent Premier League form: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWDW

Team News

Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Cardiff City and Manchester City on September 22, 2018© Reuters

Sergio Aguero was missing entirely from the squad against Bournemouth due to a muscular problem, and he remains a doubt for this match.

Guardiola is unlikely to risk his star striker - who has 10 goals in his last five games against the Hornets - with a trip to Chelsea on the horizon, which means that Gabriel Jesus is expected to lead the line once again.

December rotation means that even the good form of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane may not be enough to keep them in the team with Riyad Mahrez pushing for a start.

David Silva, Kyle Walker and John Stones were among the players to sit out against Bournemouth too, although Guardiola must decide whether to hold them back again ahead of Saturday's visit to Stamford Bridge.

Oleksandr Zinchenko is a doubt for the game after suffering a broken nose against the Cherries, meaning that Fabian Delph should return to the starting XI at left-back.

Watford, meanwhile, will be without the suspended Etienne Capoue following his red card in the defeat to Leicester on Saturday.

Adalberto Penaranda also remains sidelined, although he is nearing full fitness while both Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley could return from their own injury problems in time for this match.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Chalobah, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Deeney

Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Delph; D Silva, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Sterling, Jesus, Mahrez

Head To Head

Man City have dominated this fixture over recent decades, winning 11 and losing none of their last 13 meetings across all competitions stretching back to 1989.

City have won all eight of the meetings in the 2010s so far, scoring at least twice in each of those games to rack up an aggregate score of 27-4.

Indeed, City's last two visits to Vicarage Road have seen them win 5-0 and 6-0; the only team to have scored 5 or more goals in three consecutive top-flight away games against an opponent was West Bromwich Albion against Birmingham City between December 1957 and April 1960.

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We say: Watford 0-3 Man City

Watford have a woeful record here against Man City, and this is arguably the best City side that they have faced so far. The Hornets have suffered a major dip in form recently, and City are the last team they will want to be facing as a result.

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Who will win Tuesday's Premier League clash between Watford and Manchester City?

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Raheem Sterling celebrates with Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva after opening the scoring for Manchester City against Brighton & Hove Albion on September 29, 2018
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Man City team news: Predicted XI vs. Watford

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