Manchester City will be searching for a club record 10th consecutive Premier League victory when they entertain a Watford side that has drawn all three of its matches so far, the last two of which have been scoreless.
The home side have been quite brilliant in taking all nine points available to lie top of the virginal league table, failing to concede a goal and looking exceptional every time they have come forward. After last season’s somewhat disappointing defence of their title, the team looks to have a renewed determination to reclaim their crown, with David Silva at his creative best and Eliaquim Mangala beginning to look more settled alongside captain Vincent Kompany at the back in the wake of Nicolas Otamendi’s recent £32m arrival.
There were so many dimensions to City’s attacking play in their last game at Everton, a place where they have often struggled in recent years, so to chalk up another impressive win represented a huge warning to their fellow title hopefuls. They looked strong and almost unflappable at Goodison Park, continuing on from previous performances against West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea, and if that form can be maintained here Watford will have to set up the barricades if they are to stand any chance of competing.
The Hornets have not had any problems in that regard so far, but this is by far their biggest test yet. Manager Quique Flores changed his entire starting XI for the midweek Capital One Cup defeat at Preston North End in order to save his key players for this one, where the aim will be to frustrate the leaders and maybe grab something on the break, which they are undoubtedly capable of doing. Talismanic striker Troy Deeney is still waiting for his first Premier League goal, and there would be few better places to get it than the newly expanded Etihad Stadium.
While three draws represents an acceptable start, there will be a tinge of frustration at having failed to earn a victory having more than held their own each time. Wastefulness in front of goal proved their undoing last time out against Southampton as Odion Ighalo and Etienne Capoue both missed very good chances, but there is no doubt that the charismatic Flores will be delighted if his team can emerge with another share of the spoils here.
Man City are likely to go unchanged following their perfect start, although they are without four first-team players due to injury. In addition to Gael Clichy, Fernando and Pablo Zabaleta, striker Wilfried Bony misses out with a gashed leg.
The away side will recall a number of players for the clash, but are without Miguel Britos yet again after he was sent off at Deepdale. Defender Joel Ekstrand is absent through injury.