Why Man City must ignore Watford record and history in Premier League fixture
Manchester City will continue their Premier League title charge this weekend with the visit of Watford to the Etihad Stadium. City currently sit top of the Premier League table following Wednesday evening’s 3-0 win over Brighton, with the victory sending them by a point, reclaiming first position from Liverpool whose 4-0 demolition of Manchester United had (briefly) sent them top.
City’s opponents Watford find themselves at the opposite end of the table, currently occupying a relegation spot in 19th. With just six wins from 32 games, the Hornets have struggled massively since promotion, going through three managers this season alone.
Yet despite this, Watford still represent a hurdle for Manchester City who are chasing their sixth Premier League title this season, which would be manager Pep Guardiola’s fourth league title in just five years.
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How can a team in 19th place cause a problem for the league leaders? Surely City have enough firepower to blow the Hornets away and send them on their way back to the Championship? The answer to these questions is most likely that City will indeed win on Saturday — and probably win big.
Yet Watford are a club who can muster a shock result when no player, pundit or fan would foresee it. City need only look to fellow Manchester side United’s trip to Vicarage Road in November to see this surprise element in full action.
United were mauled 4-1 in that game, with well taken goals from Joshua King, Ismaila Sarr, Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis proving to be too much for then manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Perhaps an even more interesting example of the Hornets providing a sting to proceedings at the top of the table is there shock 3-0 win over Liverpool in 2020, which prevented Jurgen Klopp’s side from going unbeaten in their Premier League winning season.
Liverpool arrived at Vicarage Road in February of 2020 on a run of 18 consecutive Premier League victories, knowing a 19th would set a new league record. Klopp’s men had been storming to a first ever Premier league title all season and the majority expected lowly relegation-threatened Watford to be a pushover en route to the title.
That couldn’t have been further from the truth as two second half strikes from Sarr and a third from captain Troy Deeney downed any hopes of going unbeaten for the season or breaking the consecutive wins record.
Alongside these shock results, City should also be wary of the man in the opposite dugout for Saturday’s clash at the Etihad. Former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson currently manages Watford following the dismissing of both Xisco Munoz and Claudio Ranieri from the club’s chief coaching role.
The former England manager will be hoping to do his old side a favour and give a relegation lifeline to his current squad by causing an upset at the home of the Premier League champions this weekend.
As all of the above shows, even the easiest looking fixture can turn into a high pressure problem in a title race of these such tight and close proportions, meaning Guardiola and his squad must leave all complacency behind as they go into the match.