MX23RW : Thursday, April 18 16:53:20| >> :600:50041864:50041864:
Sep 16, 2017 at 3pm UK at ​Vicarage Road
Attendance: 20,305
Man CityManchester City
FT(HT: 0-3)
Aguero (27', 31', 81'), Jesus (38'), Otamendi (63'), Sterling (89' pen.)

Preview: Watford vs. Manchester City

Sports Mole previews Saturday afternoon's Premier League meeting between Watford and Manchester City at Vicarage Road.

Manchester City head to fellow unbeaten side Watford on Saturday afternoon, aiming to maintain their impressive form that has seen them win by an aggregate 9-0 scoreline in their last two matches.

The Hornets have also made a positive start to the campaign, but they have yet to pick up maximum points on home soil and have not prevailed at Vicarage Road since mid-April.


Marco Silva gives orders during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Watford on August 19, 2017© SilverHub

After a run of six successive defeats to round off the 2016-17 campaign under Walter Mazzarri, it is fair to say that incoming boss Marco Silva had a big task on his hands when taking over in the summer.

As ever when it comes to Watford, it was difficult to predict exactly how they would perform in the early weeks of the season under yet another new manager and with a whole new raft of new players joining him in Hertfordshire.

Silva, much like at previous club Hull City, has so far worked wonders by accruing eight points from a possible 12, including a well-earned six-goal home draw against outside title challengers Liverpool to begin the campaign.

Worryingly for Watford fans, that disastrous six-game run at the end of the previous campaign saw them concede 16 goals and score in just one of them - a 4-3 thriller away to Chelsea - but they have kept three successive clean sheets since the opening day, while six different players have helped themselves to a goal.

Watford's away form is perfect so far, picking up wins at Bournemouth and most recently Southampton on the south coast - just the second time in their Premier League history that they have achieved that feat - but at home they have taken two points from six on offer.

Not since April 15, when beating a poor Swansea City side 1-0, have the Hornets tasted victory on home soil, going four without a win since then in the top flight and also losing to Bristol City in round two of the EFL Cup.

Silva has already proven all his early critics wrong, those who wrote him off despite an impressive CV at such an early age, but despite his unbeaten start to life at Vicarage Road the Portuguese insists that survival remains the main aim this term.

Watford fans will need no reminding that they also started fairly brightly 12 months ago, finding themselves just outside the top five come mid-November, so maintaining this form is now the big challenge for Silva and his players.

Recent form in Premier League: DWDW
Recent form (all competitions): DWLDW

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Liverpool on September 9, 2017© SilverHub

For the second season running under manager Pep Guardiola, Man City have started the season brightly and look good value to add some silverware to their collection come next May.

A blip against Everton aside, the Citizens have overcome Brighton & Hove Albion and Bournemouth away from home, while also thrashing Liverpool in their most recent outing at the Etihad Stadium.

That five-goal victory over the Reds may largely have been down to the red card shown to Sadio Mane, and Liverpool's subsequent refusal to sit back a little, but Guardiola's men did exactly what they had to to put a direct rival to the sword.

The margin of victory was not quite enough to lift City above neighbours Manchester United to the top of the pile come the end of matchday four, though as things stand they look a real force and will likely hammer many more opponents between now and the season's end.

One of the sides to have faced the Citizens at their very best is Feyenoord, who picked the ball out of their own net four times in Wednesday evening's Champions League encounter at De Kuip, ensuring that Guardiola's charges got their European campaign off to the best of starts.

Scoring goals has never been a serious issue for the two-time Premier League winners, though, but rather their all-too-regular off days at the back, which cost them too many points across the duration of 2016-17 - Guardiola's first trophyless season in senior management.

Despite the recent absence of skipper Vincent Kompany in the heart of defence, City have still managed to keep a couple of clean sheets to take their tally to three for the campaign, largely thanks to the balance provided by their new summer signings.

This is hardly new territory for the Citizens, however, having started even better 12 months ago with a perfect record, so now it is down to Guardiola to prove that lessons have indeed been learned from his maiden campaign in English football.

Recent form in Premier League: WDWW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWW

Team News

Raheem Sterling walks off after seeing red during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Manchester City on August 26, 2017© SilverHub

Guardiola may be tempted to shuffle his pack slightly following his side's midweek exertions in the Netherlands, but Kompany is again expected to miss out due to an ongoing calf problem.

Raheem Sterling is back in contention following the conclusion of his one-match domestic ban for a controversial sending-off against Bournemouth three weeks ago, though breaking back into the side is easier said than done.

New boys Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy look set to start at wing-back, while Sergio Aguero - who has netted six goals and set up one more in four previous meetings with Watford - will likely partner Jesus Navas in attack once again.

In terms of the hosts, Miguel Britos will watch on from the stands due to suspension, while Younes Kaboul, Craig Cathcart and Sebastian Prodl are all injury absentees.

Kiko Femenia has been given the all-clear to play following a head injury sustained last time out, meanwhile, meaning that Daryl Janmaat will continue to wait in reserve.

Elsewhere, there could be a recall for fit-again Roberto Pereyra, and captain Troy Deeney will also be pushing for a starting spot up front.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes; Femenia, Mariappa, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucoure, Chalobah; Carrillo, Cleverly, Richarlison; Gray

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Stones, Otamendi, Danilo; Walker, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva, Mendy; Jesus, Aguero

Head To Head

Watford have never beaten Man City in the Premier League, losing four and drawing two of their previous six encounters.

Against no side have the Citizens faced more without tasting defeat than this weekend's opponents, joint with Sheffield United, and they have also won six in a row in all competitions.

The Hornets fell to a 5-0 loss in the most recent meeting, coming on the final day of last season in what proved to be Mazzarri's last game at the Vicarage Road helm.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Watford 1-3 Manchester City

In a battle between two of the division's three remaining unbeaten sides, the visitors will have to be on top of their game at both ends of the field if they are to leave Hertfordshire with all three points. City have scored at least two goals in nine of their last 10 away matches and, on the basis of the past week, you would not bet against them doing likewise once more on Saturday.

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Kevin De Bruyne in action during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Everton on August 21, 2017
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