Manchester City will be aiming to recover from their defeat when they face off against Watford at Vicarage Road on Matchday 37 of the Premier League.

Manchester City will be looking to return to winning ways, when they face off against relegation-threatened Watford in their penultimate game of the 2019/20 Premier League season on Tuesday night.

It has been another bizarre season for Watford, who sacked their third manager just within this season last week, having let go of Nigel Pearson, despite him dragging the Hornets out of the drop zone. Indeed, when he took over, Watford were seven points off of safety, and now they are three points above 18th placed Aston Villa.

However, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of fellow relegation battlers West Ham last week didn’t help their cause much. With Pearson now out, U23 coach Hayden Mullins will take over on as caretaker manager once again this season, with goalkeeping coach Graham Stack as his No.2. With Villa breathing down their necks, the new boss will have a huge task at his hands.

Manchester City, on the other hand, will be licking their wounds after being dumped out from the FA Cup by Arsenal this past weekend. With their runners-up place sealed, manager Pep Guardiola might have looked to rotate his players, but the weekend defeat will have spurred him and his team to bounce back strongly, meaning Watford could be in for a difficult outing.

The reverse fixture, played in September last year, saw Manchester City hammer Watford 8-0 at the Etihad, with Bernardo Silva grabbing hat-trick, while David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi all scored too. Ahead of their latest meeting this midweek, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Watford

Watford will have to do without the services of with Isaac Success, Gerard Deulofeu, Daryl Janmaat and Etienne Capoue for the contest. Mullins, during his first stint as caretaker boss back in December last year, managed two matches and seemed to prefer a 4-2-3-1 formation, which is how the Hornets could set up on Tuesday against City.

In goal, veteran Englishman Ben Foster is a certainty to start. He will be screened by a backline of Kiko Femenia and Adam Masina, who ought to be the full-backs, with Craig Dawson and Christian Kabasele starting in the centre-back slots.

Will Hughes should continue to feature as one of the two midfielders in the pivot positions. However, he could be in for a change of partners, with Nathaniel Chalobah likely to get the nod over Tom Cleverley, in Capoue’s absence. Abdoulaye Doucoure is a certainty in the No.10 role, with his late forward runs into the box likely to play a key role.

The threat from the wide areas ought to come from Ismaila Sarr and Danny Welbeck, who is finally getting a continuous run of games after his injury ordeals. Spearheading the attack for the hosts should be captain Troy Deeney, with Andre Gray providing cover from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Foster; Femenia, Dawson, Kabasele, Masina; Hughes, Chalobah; Sarr, Doucoure, Welbeck; Deeney

Manchester City

Manchester City have no fresh injury concerns, with Sergio Aguero and second-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo being the only absentees. After the weekend defeat, Guardiola is very much likely to field his strongest lineup on Tuesday night.

Guardiola & co. will be looking to bounce back after FA Cup exit (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Guardiola & co. will be looking to bounce back after FA Cup exit (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Ederson is the obvious choice in goal for the outgoing champions, while Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy should continue as the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively. Seasoned campaigner Fernandinho should feature at the heart of the defence, to deal with the physical presence of Deeney, with Aymeric Laporte partnering him.

Rodri was benched for the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday, but should return to the starting XI, at the expense of Ilkay Gundogan. Kevin De Bruyne, who makes this Manchester City team tick, should continue to feature in the centre of the park, while David Silva is also likely to start as he nears the final phase of his career with the Cityzens.

Phil Foden has been heavily used by Guardiola on the wings in recent games and the young Englishman should get the nod over Riyad Mahrez on the right flank, while Raheem Sterling should feature on the left. In Aguero’s absence, Gabriel Jesus ought to line up as the striker.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Foden, Jesus, Sterling

Key Stats

  • Manchester City are on a 12-match winning streak against Watford, with an overall aggregate score of 46-6. The Cityzens won September’s reverse fixture 8-0 and also beat Watford 6-0 in last season’s FA Cup final.
  • Watford are winless in the last 17 meetings between the two sides in all competitions (D2, L15). The Hornets’ most recent victory over City was a 1-0 home triumph in the second tier in March 1989.
  • Manchester City have collected a league-high 18 points since the restart and scored a division-best 25 goals. Guardiola’s men have scored 93 Premier League goals this term, at least 16 more than any other club.
  • Watford have lost only two of their nine previous home games against current top 10 sides (W3, D4).
  • Manchester City have lost four of their past six away league matches (W2) and failed to score in three of them.

Player to Watch

Ismaila Sarr

In his first-ever season in the Premier League, the Senegalese winger has made quite the impact and has been one of the few positives for Watford in what has been a gloomy campaign. Sarr was key to their biggest moment of the season, when they defeated Liverpool to end their unbeaten streak in the league, and has been consistently impressive.

In 28 appearances across all competitions, the 22-year-old has racked up a return of six goals and five assists. Having attracted the interest of the newly-crowned champions, Sarr will want to make the most of the last two matches and bolster his chances of sealing a big move this summer.

Coming up against Benjamin Mendy, who has been unreliable at the back for Manchester City, Sarr will fancy his chances of causing the visitors some problems on Tuesday night.

Prediction

Watford 1-3 Manchester City

Prior to their capitulation against West Ham United last time out, Watford had picked up consecutive victories. However, going up against a Manchester City side that has hit them for 14 unanswered goals in the last two meetings, they are unlikely to stand a chance, despite the Cityzens coming on the back of a defeat.

The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a straightforward 3-1 win for Pep Guardiola & co.

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