In a game that went from wave of blunt attacks to a surprising smash-and-grab, Manchester City ran out 3-1 victors over a Watford side that had set up to frustrate the Blues in every way imaginable. By hook or by crook, Pep Guardiola’s side may well have won in the best possible fashion, stifling a challenging opposition with a questionable refeering decision in the process. This one was for you, Jürgen.
It was a process that all at City will have become familiar with over the last few games. City arrive. Match starts. Opponents lose all interest in going forward. Rinse and repeat. For the first 45 minutes especially, you could have been easily fooled if you thought City had been stuck in a time machine and transported back to last Sunday when Bournemouth had tried their best to pack their box like a tin of sardines and not done much else.
Thus to say the second half was a change in fortunes against Watford would be an understatement. In what might have been one of the quickest hat tricks at the Etihad, Raheem Sterling scored three goals in 13 minutes to put the game to bed. With a minor blip allowing a Watford consolation, that was pretty much all there was to it.
Here’s how we rated the players:
Ederson – 6
A night of little action for Eddy as he had one of his token teabreaks whilst the 90 minutes passed by. Is it bad of me to say his neat passing across his area has become an expected feature?
Kyle Walker – 6
Getting a yellow card in about 5 minutes might have been the most noteworthy thing Walker did tonight. He did the usual lung-busting runs forward but seemed caught unawares a fair few times. Given the frequency (or lack thereof) of Watford’s attacks, this could be a concern going forward.
Vincent Kompany – 6
Vinnie was on for a solid performance before he regressed in the last quarter of an hour, as the introduction of Watford’s Troy Deeney saw him struggle in his last few duels.
Nicolas Otamendi – 6
Similar to the rest of the defence, Nico didn’t have too much to do so in this one. He made a bit of a daft challenge on Deulofeu in the last few moments but otherwise it was a good showing for what it was worth.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7
Game after game, Zinchenko looks more like a genuine left back. That’s crazy to say given the guy turned up out of nowhere for bobbins as an attacking midfielder, but power to him if he keeps putting in solid performances such as these. He’s yet to find those telepathic connections going forward, but he works so hard in either direction it doesn’t seem to matter!
Ilkay Gündogan – 8
In the absence of a fairly obvious candidate, I would have had Gündo as Man of the Match today. Whilst Zinchenko is the rags-to-riches story and Fernandinho is our unquestioned starting defensive midfielder, it’s easy to lose sight of how brilliant the German can be in his own right. Indeed, his chipped passes and swift movements have seen him define himself as a unique option at the base of midfield.
David Silva – 6
The Merlin of Arthurian legend might be eternal, but David Silva is showing signs that he might *shudders* be slowing down. True, the Spaniard’s contributions are perpetually of a high standard, yet when you watch him week in, week out, it’s hard to deny that he seems to be feeling the touch of Father Time.
Bernardo Silva – 8
Bernardo Silva was, once again, bloody great. Tireless running, exquisite passing moves, and undeniable passion. Need I say more? The man trying his best to become my favourite player as much as get a nonimation for Player of the Season.
Riyad Mahrez – 7
Bear with me here – Riyad Mahrez looked like a part of the team today. A match winner last week, a composed performance this one. Things are looking up for the Algerian – he even grabbed an assist to mark his good efforts!
Raheem Sterling – 9 (Man of the Match)
In all honesty, Raheem seemed to be off the pace in the first half. But in similar honesty, who cares when you bag a hat trick in 13 minutes. Whatever the circumstances of the first goal, Sterling took each goal with greater and greater composure, executing a token City move for the second and walking the ball past Foster for the third. Now the Englishman is Mr. Reliable, and joint-leader for goal contributions in the league this season.
Sergio Agüero – 6
Bad luck for any of you who’d captained Kun in your fantasy teams this week. Despite smashing in 7 goals in 3 home games, the Argentian couldn’t continue his rich vein of home form, notably missing a glaring chance with a header in the first half. There will be better days for him to come – perhaps he was feeling the effects of so many games without rest.
Leroy Sané – 6
Besides threatening to take the head off of a Watford player with one of his trademark long free-kicks, Sané wasn’t able to bring that bit of extra punch to the party on Saturday night. He should have done better with a chance late on, choosing to blast the ball into the side netting than square it for an emphatic fourth goal.
Gabriel Jesus – N/A
No time to mark.
Phil Foden – N/A
No time to mark.
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