Disappointed by their goalless draw against Leicester City, Manuel Pellegrini’s Citizens travel to Watford eager to open the year of 2016 with an away win, which would be their first on the road since September. The Hornets will be hoping to bounce back from a defeat to Tottenham and get back to winning ways following their impressive run in the last couple of weeks.
The Hornets were unlucky to suffer a defeat to Tottenham as Son Heung-Min scored a late winner for Spurs with only two minutes left on the clock. The loss snapped the run of five matches without a defeat, which saw Watford make a huge leap forward in the standings to reach the ninth position in the table. Quique Sanchez Flores’ men have been the most positive of surprises with their four-match winning streak which lasted wince the end of November. The Hornets lost their pace during the festive period, having been denied the win at Chelsea on Boxing Day (2-2) before the loss to Tottenham which ended a pretty fine year for the club. Watford will be relying on their key player Odion Ighalo, who has been in superb form recently. The 26-year-old Nigeria forward has netted 14 times in 19 matches and will be expected to lead the way against the shaky Manchester City defence. Watford striker has scored seven goals in last six games in the league and there has been much talk regarding his future. Watford are expected to receive a lot of interest for their key player, but the club is adamant that Igalo will not be leaving in January and that he will be offered a bumper pay-rise to end the transfer speculation.
Joel Ekstrand remains sidelined with his cruciate ligament rupture and the Watford centre back is not expected to make a return until March 2016.
Nathan Ake is serving his red card suspension, while Etienne Capoue, Allan Nyom and Troy Deeney will have to be careful as they are one card from bans of their own.
The Citizens failed to end the year of 2015 in a victorious fashion, as they have been halted to a goalless draw at Leicester City. Manuel Pellegrini’s team head into the new year siting third in the league, three points short of leaders Arsenal. The title race is wide open midway through the ongoing campaign, but Manchester City will need to push the throttle if they want to keep up. Pellegrini’s charges have failed to win in their last six games on the road and the Chilean tactician will have every right to feel worried ahead of the trip to Watford which marks the beginning of a hectic month for Manchester City as the Citizens are due to play seven matches in the first month of 2016. Manchester City have been going through a difficult patch in recent weeks with the absence of their captain Vincent Kompany leaving a lot of scars in the team’s play. The towering Belgian is set for another month on the sidelines and City’s hopes of improving their poor defending record are looking glum at the moment. Having lost three of the last five games away from home, Manchester City have failed to find the back of the net in four of those five games.
Vincent Kompany’s calf injury was aggravated during his cameo appearance against Sunderland on Boxing Day and the reliable defender is likely to be out until the end of January.
Pablo Zabaleta is getting close to his full fitness following the knee injury and could be given a run against Watford. Fernando and Samir Nasri remain the long-term absentees.
Key Factors to Consider
- Manchester City are winless in their last six away games
- The Hornets have lost only 1 of their last three home games vs the Citizens
- Odion Ighalo scored 7 goals in last 6 Premier League games
- Watford have managed six clean sheets in ten Premier League home games
- The Citizens have won six and lost none of their last eight against Watford
Watford have seen their bubble burst during the festive period, but Quique Sanchez Flores’ side are force to be reckoned with this season. The Citizens have been in dreadful form on the road, the spirits are low and there is good value in backing the hosts not to lose.
Verdict: Watford not to lose
Best Odds: 5/4