Manchester City will be looking to win away from home in the Premier League for the first time since September as they take on a Watford side that will be keen to push on after a fine first half of the season.
Although it ended with a cruel late defeat at home to Tottenham, 2015 turned out to be one of the best calendar years in Watford’s history as they gained promotion to the top-flight and have built themselves a terrific platform not just to stay up, but to finish in a secure mid-table position. That they have managed to do so is down to a very strong defensive unit that does not always get the credit it deserves, and the often highlighted front pairing of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.
The latter netted once more against Tottenham for his sixth goal in successive Premier League games, and he will provide the biggest danger to a Man City defence over which there has been a number of question marks in recent times. And the Hornets will justly feel that they have more than a hint of a chance of picking up points here, having only lost on Monday to a goal that should have been ruled out for offside, as they fought superbly with 10 men.
There was plenty of possession and plenty of territory for Man City as they drew away to fellow high-flyers Leicester City on Tuesday, but rarely did they manage to fashion a clear chance despite the presence of creative talents on Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva on the pitch. Once the Spaniard was sacrificed along with the returning Sergio Aguero their threat decreased considerably as they struggled to pierce an organised defence, and unless they buck their ideas up they could suffer a similar fate here.
Ever since their five-game winning start to the season was brought to an end, City have flattered to deceive and have not found the required consistency in terms of results and performances, which is a bit of a letdown for a squad that boasts such incredible attacking talent. The gap to leaders Arsenal stands at a mere three points, but until they reach anything approaching the standards they set back in August, they will always be vulnerable.
Nathan Ake misses out for Watford as he begins a three-match ban, while defenders Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban remain absent through injury.
The visitors are still without captain Vincent Kompany and midfielder Samir Nasri, but Fernando returns to contention after missing the last two games.