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Watford v Manchester City
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Title favourites Manchester City take their faltering away form to Watford hoping a New Year brings better luck on the road.
WATFORD’S GREAT RUN HALTED BY SPURS
Watford’s five-match unbeaten run came to an end on Monday when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Spurs. Now follows a real test for Spanish coach Quique Sánchez Flores and his men, as Premier League favourites Manchester City visit Vicarage Road at the start of 2016. The Hornets have been another of the surprise packages this season and they currently sit in 9th position in the current league table, 11 points from the magical 40 that will guarantee them top-flight football once again next season. Flores has constructed a side that plays an attacking, entertaining brand of football and having already beaten Liverpool in front of their own fans, will relish the prospect of locking horns with another of the league’s big boys.
CITIZENS STILL WITH THEIR DOUBTERS
Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini must be wondering what he has to do to get the credit he probably feels he deserves. A battling 0-0 draw at table topping Leicester City on Tuesday, in a match they should have claimed all three points, has still left many observers unsure if this highly talented team can claim the ultimate prize. The main reason for this is the erratic form of the defence in the absence of captain Vincent Kompany, who missed out again at the King Power Stadium after picking up an injury in the 4-1 home demolition of Sunderland. With star striker Sergio Agüero still to rediscover his best form after returning from his injury lay-off and with the speculation that Pep Guardiola will take over next summer, Pellegrini is working in a pressure cooker atmosphere.
Watford full-back Nathan Ake is suspended for the visit of Manchester City after being sent-off against Spurs on Monday. Former Roma defender Jose Holebas should deputise. Joel Ekstrand and Tommy Hoban are the only other injury concerns for Flores ahead of the game. If Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo scores on Saturday, he will equal the clubs all-time record of scoring in seven consecutive matches set way back in 1928. The best football betting sites price him at *2.75 to do this.
Pellegrini will once again be without inspirational skipper Kompany, with Frenchman Samir Nasri also unavailable. The Chilean coach revealed he substituted England international Raheem Sterling for “tactical” reasons at Leicester and looks set to recall him to the starting line-up on Saturday – The betting exchanges price him at *7.00 to open the scoring at the weekend.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Watford (4-4-2) Gomes; Holebas, Britos, Cathcart, Nyom; Jurado, Watson, Capoue, Abdi; Deeney, Ighalo
Manchester City (4-2-3-1) Hart; Kolarov, Mangala, Otamendi, Sagna; Touré, Fenandinho; Sterling, Silva, De Bruyne; Agüero
HEAD TO HEAD
Manchester City are unbeaten in their last eight meetings in all competitions against Watford. They have met 13 times in the league with both teams recording five victories each. The Hornets are one of just five clubs that Agüero has failed to score against since he arrived in England. Last season’s corresponding fixture ended in a 1-1 draw with City winning the reverse fixture this season 2-0 back in August.The visitors haven’t won away in the Premier League since the 12th of September when the beat Crystal Palace 1-0.
Watford 5.00 Draw 4.00 Manchester City 1.66
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)