Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 50: Watford

City badly need three points tomorrow, but standing in the way are Walter Mazzarri’s Watford side, who are no pushovers. We spoke to Watford fan (and Manchester resident) Rob Smith about what we can expect on Wednesday night.

What do you make of Watford’s season so far?

It’s been a funny season really. Many, including myself, predicted a slow start to the season, with realistic first points being available at Burnley at the end of September. This was not the case, with 7 points picked up, including a memorable 3-1 victory against United. The following match was a 2-0 defeat to Burnley. Despite sitting pretty in an unexpected 7th, it actually feels like we haven’t got going properly. Consistency has never been a Watford strong point, but if we can find this, then the world is our oyster! *

* a top half finish

And of their away form in particular?

Not something to shout about, that’s for sure. Bar an impressive fight back from 2 nil down to win 4-2 at West Ham’s troubled London stadium – a match which first highlighted the security issues at the stadium, we’ve been largely disappointing away from home. The Burnley match was up there with the worst displays I’ve seen, and even the 1-0 win at Boro was a poor performance. Let’s just hope we’ve learned from our naïve forward play against a formidable Liverpool side, and there will be no repeat of the 6-1 drubbing!

Which players have impressed most?

Two players have impressed this season, and for slightly different reasons.

First of all, Nordin Amrabat. At times a frustrating player, with his final decision making and ball (remind you of anyone? Sterling), he has still come to life this season, having been given a decent run in the team – something that the former boss Quique Sanchez Flores neglected. He can be a tricky player, and tracks back well with high energy.

Second, Sebastian Prodl. Always solid in defence since he arrived, he seems to be growing by the game, and looks assured and decisive. This is new to Watford!

Have Watford got the ability to hurt City? After all, we can’t keep a clean sheet or win at home!

With Roberto Pereyra, a summer signing from Juventus back from suspension, we have a much needed creative spark back. Okaka had a great game against Everton, and looked a handful. Combined with the fact that (just like Ighalo last season) he is a relative unknown, he could spring a surprise. City’s defence has issues when up against pacey strikers, and in Deeney and Okaka, you can’t say this is their strong point. That said, Deeney likes pressurising defenders, so he has the potential to disrupt the tactic of playing out from the backc. My gut feeling though, is no!

As a neutral, what do you make of Guardiola, and his “tinkering”?

If the modern manager was afforded the time that’s needed to find his best team, and train the players to play to his system, then it would be expected. It says more about the chairmen than the managers in today’s game, that Pep is coming under attack. That said, I was very surprised at the system and line-up against Leicester. I think anyone would agree that it is taking time to understand how to play out from the back properly, and the one player you’d expect to exploit this weakness would have been Vardy.


Always good for a goal in the big games, and City without Aguero, I’ll go with 2-1 to City. I expect Watford to come out strong, so I will even put my neck on the line and say Watford will go 1 up!

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