Weblog: The football punter

Manchester City should hit the front early 

Premier League
BT Sport 1, 8pm Tuesday

Watford must be fearing the worst after taking a couple of hidings at home to Manchester City in recent seasons and it is likely to be comfortable for the Premier League champions at Vicarage Road.

It may not quite be as bad for Watford as their last two visits - City won 6-0 and 5-0 there in May and September of 2017 - but the Citizens can make their class count and should hit the front before half-time.

City have not even been at their best in recent weeks yet they still beat Bournemouth 3-1 and West Ham 4-0. The only points they have dropped in their last 11 Premier League matches were from the 0-0 draw at Liverpool when Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty.

Mahrez was rested from the start against Bournemouth on Saturday, as were David Silva and Kyle Walker, and Pep Guardiola's side should be fresher than Watford even if Sergio Aguero fails to recover from injury in time to replace Gabriel Jesus up front.

The Citizens have been leading at the break in all four of their league wins this season and opposing managers are facing a difficult conundrum as they try to work out the best way to nullify their fluid attack.Some teams have tried outright defence and been thrashed, others have tried to press higher up, as West Ham did a couple of weeks ago, but the result was the same.

Watford tend to play 4-4-2 under Javi Gracia, so they may attempt to stop City building up play from the back, a tactic which is easier said than done with John Stones and Aymeric Laporte in the rearguard.

Laporte has been outstanding this season as City have conceded just six times in the Premier League, helping to boost their goal difference to plus 37. Their attack have done even more to reach that figure, netting a stupendous 43 goals in only 14 fixtures.

If Aguero is not fit and Jesus is not firing there are still weapons to hurt Watford, with Bernardo Silva and David Silva probing centrally, while Raheem Sterling, Mahrez and Leroy Sane add magic moments from wider positions.

Watford started the season with a bang, winning their opening four matches, but since then their league record reads played ten, won two, drawn two and lost six. 

Those defeats include losses to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool and they failed to register a shot on target in Saturday's 2-0 reverse at Leicester.

The Hornets can give this match everything as they are not in action again until Monday, but City will be looking to get things wrapped up so they can start their preparations for Saturday's trip to Chelsea.

Man City-Man City double result

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Expert verdict
Japan haven’t performed up to their usual standards in recent internationals and they will need to up their game if they are to compete with two-time defending champions Chile. The Chileans are hard to trust entirely but recent results in friendlies suggest they should have enough to pinch victory.