Manchester City welcome relegation-threatened Watford at home on Saturday afternoon, as the exciting Premier League action continues.
Manchester City were last in action in the midweek, as they emerged comfortable winners against Brighton and Hove Albion at home, winning 3-0. City were hardly troubled throughout the game, and 3 second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva were enough to see them get a very deserved three points. That win sent the Citizens back to the top of the table, with Liverpool briefly occupying that spot thanks to their 4-0 demolition of Manchester United at Anfield on Tuesday evening. Their latest win means Man City have now gone six games unbeaten in the league since last losing to Tottenham Hotspurs back in mid-February. They have just lost one out of their last 12 games in all competitions, showing their immense talent and domination in domestic and European football. They have an outstanding record against Watford, and the blue half of Manchester will be hoping for a similarly comfortable win on Saturday.
Watford comes into this weekend on the back of three straight losses, and a very poor record of just 2 wins in the last 15 league games. Their last game against Brentford was a very thrilling and closely contested match, that most Watford fans will feel unlucky to have lost. A brilliant goal by Emmanuel Dennis from a tight angle levelled the score at Vicarage Road after the Bees had taken the lead. The Hornets had some very good chances to take the lead, Brentford keeper David Raya was forced into some brilliant stops, and the Bees were lucky with Imran Louza shooting wide with the goal at his mercy in the last few minutes. Brentford then went up the other end and scored a last-minute winner through Pontus Jansson as they left Vicarage Road with all three points. Manager Roy Hodgson will have been pleased with the performance, although less so with their failure to kill off the game. The Hornets remain in 19th place after that loss, with the possibility of a miraculous escape from the relegation zone seeming bleaker with every passing game.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Date: Saturday, 23rd April 2022.
Time: 3.00 pm BST
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Simon Beck.
Fourth official: Jonathan Moss.
VAR: Lee Mason.
Assistant VAR: Darren Cann.
Manchester City were without Kyle Walker against Brighton, making it the second game he has missed since his early substitution in the Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid. He is a slight doubt for Saturday but is expected to make the bench and be fit in time for the game. Ruben Dias returned to action for the first time since his time on the sidelines, as he replaced Nathan Ake at the break in the midweek. It remains to see if he is put straight back into the starting 11 by Pep Guardiola. There are no other injury concerns for the Citizens, and Guardiola will hope it stays that way at the end of the weekend, as they enter a very crucial period of their season.
Watford forward Cucho Hernandez was omitted from the squad against Brentford, with the Colombian picking up an injury against Leeds United, and was replaced by Emmanuel Dennis in the starting lineup. Reports suggest that the Colombian forward is set to be out until the final stages of the season. Samuel Kalu also missed out last weekend with a minor ankle injury along with William Trost-Ekong and Francisco Sierralta who are both nursing injuries. The trio is a doubt for the game and are unlikely to make the starting 11 against the defending Champions.
Manchester City have dominated Watford in every game they have played against each other in recent times. The Hornets have had no answer to the quality and talent of the Citizens, with the score-line more often than not showing the vast gulf between the two sides. Watford have lost the last 14 games against Man City in all competitions, and Pep Guardiola and Co. will look to break a long-standing record of being the first English team in history to win 15 consecutive games against an opponent.
However, that record will not be the crowd-puller, with the Citizens currently locked in an edge-of-the-seat battle with Merseyside rivals Liverpool for the Premier League title. City are chasing their 7th Premier League title, while the Reds are chasing a record-equaling 20th league title. Watford could well play a huge role in that battle on Saturday, surprising the giants and getting a result that could tilt the league title towards Merseyside.
Watford have undoubtedly had a very poor season, and now faces the possibility of spending yet another year in the second tier of English football. They are 7 points from safety, and with just 6 games left to play, their fate has been almost sealed. Manager Roy Hodgson could take heart from the fact that the Hornets produced a battling performance in their last game, and Watford fans will be hoping to see some fight again in a game that no one expects the Hornets to win.
Manchester City, on the other hand, cannot afford to get complacent. Watford are an easy opponent, but in football and especially Premier League, even the smallest of teams have the ability to shock the biggest. Pep Guardiola will only be too well aware of the fact, and he will no doubt field a strong team. City attackers will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing such a weak defense, and the likes of Riyad Mahrez- who is in very good form at the moment- will be raring to go again.
Kevin de Bruyne
The Belgian playmaker has not been at his very best as we have seen over the past few seasons, with injuries and coronavirus hampering his start to the Premier League season. However, de Bruyne has performed when it matters for City, scoring in big games against the top six clubs. KDB has scored twice against Liverpool, twice against United and once against Chelsea. He has been Pep Guardiola’s most reliable player in recent years, and with 11 goals and 4 assists, this season has proved he can be there for the team even when he’s not in his best form. He was on hand to provide an assist for Bernardo Silva’s goal in the midweek against Brighton in otherwise quiet performance. De Bruyne has a brilliant record against Watford, scoring 2 goals and providing 8 assists against them in 9 games so far. He will be the man to look out for again on Saturday.
Emmanuel Dennis was signed in the summer of 2021 from Club Brugge and has shown promise in his very first season with the Hornets in the top flight of English football. The Nigerian forward has scored 10 goals and provided 5 assists in 30 appearances in the league so far, top-scoring for Watford by some distance. He is also their joint-highest assist provider, which highlights his importance to the club. Still only 24, he has a very bright future ahead of him, and there is no doubt there will be a few clubs in for him in the summer if Watford are relegated. He scored a goal last weekend against Brentford, and he has certainly done enough to warrant another start on Saturday. A real menace on the break, City defenders will need to keep an eye out for him.
Man City predicted XI: Ederson; Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan; Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish.
Watford predicted XI: Ben Foster; Kiko Femenia, Christian Kabasele, Samir, Hassane Kamara; Moussa Sissoko, Imran Louza, Tom Cleverley; Ismaila Sarr, Josh King, Emmanuel Dennis.
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