Preview: Manchester City v Watford

Manchester City will look to bounce back from their humiliating defeat to Leicester with a comprehensive display of effective, attacking football at home to Watford on Wednesday.

Premier League
14 December 2016
Matchday 16
Kick-off: 22H00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Etihad Stadium

Referee: K. Friend
Assistants: D. Cann, D. Eaton
Fourth official: M. Clattenburg

Head-to-head summary:


Manchester City 14 7 3 4
Watford 14 4 3 7

Previous encounter:

Watford 1-2 Manchester City 02/01/16 (Premier League)

Watford goalscorer: B. Watson (55′)
Manchester City goalscorers: Y. Toure (82′), S. Auguero (84′)

Players to watch:

Nolito took no time at all to settle to life in the Premier League, and has so far notched up six goals from 19 appearances in all competitions.

Whether he is utilised from the start or as an impact player from the bench, the 30-year-old Spaniard, has certainly proved his worth already.

He made a significant impact when introduced against Leicester, helping restore some dignity to the scoreline, although without ultimately being able to affect the result.

Stefano Okaka’s Watford career got off to a slow start as he struggled to overcome a hamstring injury.

He played once at the beginning of the season before returning against the Foxes in November, and has now notched up five Premier League appearances – announcing his arrival to the Watford fans with two goals in the 3-2 win over the Toffees this past weekend.

Having previously been spoken of in the same breadth as Mario Balotelli, Okaka could become an important player for Walter Mazzarri’s side if he can regain the form he displayed in Belgium last season where he scored 15 goals for Anderlecht.

Team form and manager quotes:

Manchester City come into this match on the back of that surprise loss to Leicester, but have not won their last three ties, having lost 3-1 to Chelsea ahead of a 1-1 draw with Celtic in the Champions League, with their last victory a narrow 2-1 away win at Burnley.

Despite their poor form, City start the week in fourth place with 30 points from their opening 15 games, while Watford, who edged Everton 3-2 last time out, after two successive losses, to Stoke and West Brom, are down in seventh place with 21 points.

Ahead of this match, City boss Pep Guardiola told a press conference that he had no plans to change his side’s style of play.

He said: “No. No way. We are going to play the way I feel. I believe in the way I like to play, I am sorry. If I cannot do that, the chairman will decide. But there’s no way I will change.”

He added: “Of course I have to adapt, but that doesn’t mean I change the way I believe. You have to play in this kind of way. It’s the best way. I thought maybe it would be shorter to adapt but I am pretty sure it will happen. If people want me to fail, there’s nothing I can say.

“The last month we have to accept it’s not going well. The last games at home we didn’t win. I don’t have a defence.”


Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri, meanwhile, insists his side can beat any team on their day.

He told the club’s official website: “I said this to my players.

“If we put ourselves in front of our opponents we can fight against any Premier League team. If we are 100% ready, we can play against any team in the Premier League and battle for the three points.

“This is something that gives us a lot of positivity before the game.”

He added: “I saw the game against Leicester. I was surprised, but in Italy we have a saying, ‘each game has it’s own story’. This wont help us. We will find Manchester City very angry and concentrated, we won’t have the luck that they will underestimate us.”

Team news:

With no new injuries to report, Manchester City remain without the injured Vincent Kompany (knee), while Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are suspended.

For Watford, Adrian Mariappa (knee), Younes Kaboul (calf), Kenedy (knee), Craig Cathcart (hernia) and Brice Dja Djedje (foot) are all set to be sidelined, with Valon Behrami to undergo a late fitness nest after suffering from illness this week, but Roberto Pereyra returns form suspension.