Venue: Vicarage Road
Date: 16 September 2017
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Kick off: 15:00
UK TV: Not on TV
Manchester City will be full of confidence ahead of the trip to Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon after seeing off Liverpool 5-0 and continuing their free-scoring form with a convincing 4-0 win over Feyernoord on Wednesday evening.
Despite City’s form, Watford could prove a stern opponent after the Hornets’ impressive start to their third successive season in the English top flight which sees them currently sitting 4th in the Premier League.
Raheem Sterling returns for City after coming back from the suspension picked up in the dramatic 2-1 victory over Bournemouth. Guardiola is not faced with any new injury concerns besides the absence of skipper Vincent Kompany, who has returned to training and is expected to play again in the “next days”.
Manager Marco Silva will need to adapt the defensive line-up he has used thus far due to Miguel Britos missing because of suspension and Sebastian Prödl and Younes Kaboul both battling injury. Right-back Kiko Femenia is another doubt for Saturday’s game. Jamaican international Adrian Mariappa replaced Kaboul last week whilst Daryl Janmaat also came off the bench to replace Femenia. Craig Cathcart is another player who is definitely going to miss out due to injury.
City will face a different side compared to the one the Blues thrashed 5-0 on the last match day of 2016-17. Manager Walter Mazzarri has been replaced by Marco Silva, who had an impressive stint at Hull last year despite being eventually relegated, almost saving Hull from what appeared certain relegation.
Watford invested massively over the summer, with the most important signings so far being the likes of Andre Gray (Burnley), England youth internationals Will Hughes (Derby) and Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), young Brazilian striker Richarlison, right-back Femenia and winger André Carrillo.
Silva and his signings have improved the team significantly. Watford conceded its only goals in the BPL this season in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool on the opening day of the season. The games against Bournemouth and Southampton were both won 2-0 whilst the match against Brighton ended in a 0-0 draw.
Watford returned to a 4-2-3-1 in the win against the Saints after starting with a 4-3-3 in the opening days of the season. It is likely that Silva retains the formation with two defensive midfielders providing additional cover for the restructured backline against an attacking side such as City.
Despite Watford’s good start to the season, it is difficult to see City losing this game considering the form over the last two games in particular. Although Watford has certainly improved and are a stronger side than last year, the Hornets have not faced a side of City’s calibre yet and sheer offensive firepower should be enough to see them off. The game could nonetheless turn out to be a very frustrating encounter if City fail to bury chances early on, but since the Blues have been (surprisingly) efficient recently, I will be optimistic and go for a 4-1 City win with Agüero scoring the opener.