Men's Team

Grealish, Foden among five changes for City

BLOCK THE NOISE: Grealish does his trademark celebration.
Jack Grealish and Phil Foden both start for City against Watford, while Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte and Ilkay Gundogan also make welcome returns.

And there was more good news with Kevin De Bruyne returning to first team duty this early evening, with the Belgian playmaker named as a sub.


John Stones has also recovered from a slight knock.

Starting XI

Ederson, Walker, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Rodrigo, Gundogan (c), Bernardo, Grealish, Foden, Sterling

Subs: Steffen, Carson, Stones, Ake, Jesus, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Mahrez


Formation & possible tactics

City will play the usual 4-3-3 formation against Watford.

The excellent Walker has been in top form all season and his return means that Joao Cancelo will switch over to left-back.

Either Laporte or Stones are reliable partners for Ruben Dias, but it is Laporte who gets the nod on this occasion.

Rodrigo will have skipper Gundogan back alongside him in midfield with Bernardo continuing his long first team run.

Raheem Sterling deservedly retains his place, with England colleagues Foden and Grealish making up the front three – though who plays where among that trio could change throughout the 90 minutes.

Rotation vital

With a packed festive and New Year period ahead, having six top internationals all return in one go is almost unprecedented.

Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus both start as subs today, but it is likely that if the opportunity arises, Pep Guardiola will look to rest players such as Bernardo and Joao Cancelo who have been almost permanent fixtures this season, if and when he sees fit.

Champions look to go top

What a pre-festive boost it would be if City could collect the three points that would see the champions leapfrog Chelsea and climb to the summit of the Premier League for the first time this season.

Thomas Tuchel’s men were beaten 3-2 at West Ham in the day’s early kick-off, leaving the opportunity for City to go two points clear of the West London side.

Liverpool's 1-0 win at Wolves means they go top for now - with only a victory at Vicarage Road enough to overhaul Jurgen Klopp’s side.

In a Premier League title race that looks set to be one of the closest yet, any opportunity to cash in on a rival dropping points has to be taken.

WATCH: Watford v City: Top five goals

Stats, facts and milestones

  • City are unbeaten in the last 18 meetings with Watford in all competitions (W16 D2), netting 59 goals in this run. Only against Norwich (22 between 1965-1981), Walsall (19 since 1897) and West Brom (19 since 2010) have we ever had longer unbeaten runs.

  • City have never lost to Watford in the Premier League (W10 D2), winning the last 10 against them by an aggregate score of 37-4.

  • City average 3.2 goals per game against Watford in the Premier League (38 goals in 12 games) – our best goals per game record against any opponent in the competition (min. 5 matches).

  • Watford haven’t beaten City in league competition since March 1989 in the second tier under the management of Steve Harrison, with Iwan Roberts scoring the only goal.

  • Pep Guardiola has won all nine of his meetings with Watford in all competitions, by an aggregate score of 39-3. Against no side does the Catalan have a better 100% win rate in his managerial career (also 9/9 vs Bournemouth).

  • City haven’t lost any of the last 10 matches in all competitions in the month of December (W7 D3). Across those 10 games we have scored 17 goals and conceded only three.

  • City have won each of the last eight away games on Saturdays in the Premier League, scoring 16 times and conceding only once.

  • City have kept a clean sheet in 17 of the last 22 Premier League matches that were played on Saturdays, conceding only eight goals in this time.

  • City have lost just two of the last 21 Premier League away games (W17 D2), going unbeaten in each of our last six on the road (W5 D1). Since Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge (2016-17), City have won more away games (72) and away points (227) than any other side in the Premier League.

  • Raheem Sterling has been involved in 12 goals in just eight games against Watford in all competitions (10 goals, 2 assists). Only against Bournemouth (11) has Sterling scored more goals in his senior club career than he has against the Hornets.

  • Bernardo Silva has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League appearances for City - as many as in his previous 55 games in the competition.

  • Riyad Mahrez has been directly involved in 10 goals in 10 Premier League appearances against Watford (7 goals, 3 assists), scoring or assisting in each of his last eight starts against them.

  • Kevin De Bruyne has registered seven assists in his last six league appearances against Watford, assisting in each of his last three league matches at Vicarage Road.

  • Ederson’s next clean sheet will be his 100th for the Club.

  • Watford have lost 19 of their 26 league games against reigning top-flight champions (73% - W4 D3), the highest loss rate of any side to have played at least 20 such games in English top-flight history.

  • Watford have won two of their last three Premier League matches that took place on Saturdays (L1), beating Everton 5-2 at Goodison Park and Manchester United 4-1 at Vicarage Road.

  • Watford have conceded at least once in each of their last 14 Premier League games on Saturdays, conceding 24 goals in total across those matches.

  • Only two players in Watford’s current Premier League squad have scored against City in the Premier League – Dan Gosling in April 2009 for Everton and November 2011 for Newcastle, and Tom Cleverley in April 2015 for Aston Villa.

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