Watford 1-3 Manchester City: Premier League – as it happened
David Hytner was at Vicarage Road to see the champions get back to the top. His report has landed, and here it is. Get clicking, good people. Thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night!
The sensational Bernardo Silva talks to Sky. “It was a very good job in the first half especially. We created chances and didn’t allow them to counter-attack. We scored two but should have scored more. At 3-0 we tried to control the game, but the last few minutes were not as good. We’re very happy, top of the league. It’s always better to be top than second or third or fourth, but it’s still the beginning, not even halfway through, and it’s so close. Lots of games to play, though it’s better to be in our position. It’s going to be tough for us and for Liverpool and Chelsea. It’s the most competitive league in the world, and we will do our best. At the end of the season we want to celebrate some titles.”
Not a good day for Chelsea, then ...
... while Watford are suddenly in Newcastle’s sights.
FULL TIME: Watford 1-3 Manchester City
The champions return to the top of the Premier League, having secured the three points at Vicarage Road pretty much from the get-go. Watford will be happy to have kept the score down, and to have improved significantly in the second half.
Updated at 7.59pm GMT
90 min +4: One corner leads to another, then Ngakia steers a shot well wide right from the edge of the D.
90 min +3: Hernandez has another dig from a tight angle on the right. De Bruyne deflects it out for a corner. Chance for another late consolation.
Updated at 7.32pm GMT
90 min +2: On Sky, Alan Smith names Raheem Sterling as man of the match. He’s been magnificent ... though Bernardo Silva might have been even better.
Updated at 7.41pm GMT
90 min: There will be four extra minutes.
89 min: A loose ball to the right of the Watford D. De Bruyne opens his body and sends a powerful rising sidefoot towards the top right. The ball sails an inch over the bar. That would have been a stunner.
88 min: Jesus is fine. He trots back on and quickly gets back up to speed, bustling away to a chorus of boos. He then runs the ball out of play, much to the home support’s amusement.
87 min: Jesus is back up but whether he can continue isn’t yet clear. He limps off the pitch slowly. City have made all of their subs.
86 min: Jesus seems in a bit of pain. He’s grimacing quite a lot. The trainer is on, and Pep Guardiola is not happy, deep in discussion with the fourth official.
85 min: Jesus spins Cathcart, who responds by taking one for the team. A cynical clip on the heel, and a yellow card.
83 min: Ngakia has the chance to release Dennis down the left, but hangs onto the ball too long, and when he eventually makes the pass, the flag goes up for offside.
82 min: The corner leads to a half-chance for Silva, the ball dropping to him in a crowded six-yard box. But he’s swarmed and the shot is blocked. No hat-trick. Not yet, anyway.
81 min: City take the sting out of the game with some sterile possession. But then suddenly they step up the pace, and Sterling dribbles into the box from the left. His shot is deflected out for another corner.
79 min: Sterling drifts in from the left and looks for the top right. Always high and wide.
78 min: But you know what, it could easily have been two for Watford! Hernandez is sent scampering at full pace down the right. He crosses low and hard. King meets it first time, sweeping wide of the right-hand post. Not far away. Had that been on target - and it wasn’t the easiest of chances - it’s not clear that Ederson was getting to it.
77 min: That’s almost certainly too little, too late for Watford, but it was lovely play by Hernandez, and the hosts deserve something for a staunch second-half display against opponents who have at times threatened to overrun them.
75 min: Jesus comes on for Foden.
GOAL! Watford 1-3 Manchester City (Hernandez 74)
Out of nothing! Hernandez takes up possession on the right-hand corner of the City box and creams a fine shot across Ederson and off the base of the left-hand post. So unlucky. But he doesn’t drop his head, and as the rebound flies across the face of goal, he sticks out a leg to guide it back towards the net. Ederson can’t keep it out, and that’s superb from Hernandez.
Updated at 7.10pm GMT
73 min: Kucka has a belt from 25 yards. It’s on target and heading into the bottom right, but not at enough pace to fox Ederson.
71 min: Ngakia comes on for Rose.
70 min: Foden sends it into the mixer. Cathcart heads over. Mahrez takes the latest City corner. Watford half clear, but City come back at them, Mahrez tiptoeing along the byline to the right of goal. His cross-cum-shot is blocked and loops high into the air. Laporte waits an age for it to come down, shapes to volley, then dummies to make more space. His eventual effort is bravely saved at close range by Bachmann, who requires a little treatment after taking one in his special area.
69 min: Sterling drops a shoulder to cut infield from the left. He’s crudely brought down in full flight by Dennis, who has the good grace to look sheepish. Free kick.
67 min: Grealish embarked on a long slow-motion dribble down the inside-left channel before Silva’s goal. He was forced to check back, but had attracted quite a few defenders, and that surely contributed to Silva then being found in acres on the other flank. That was his penultimate act of the evening; his last is a shot from the right-hand side of the D that’s deflected over the bar. He’s replaced by De Bruyne, while Gundogan makes way for Mahrez.
65 min: Dennis crosses from the right. King is lurking in the middle, but Ederson is on point and down quickly to smother.
GOAL! Watford 0-3 Manchester City (Silva 63)
This is a peach. Silva, out on the right, waltzes into the box, drops a shoulder to send Rose off for the paper, and passes a curling shot into the top-left corner. That is such a stylish goal, and if we didn’t know it already, this is over.
Updated at 6.57pm GMT
62 min: City go up the other end and nearly make it three, Sterling racing down the right before rolling infield for Gundogan, who sends a rising shot towards the top-left corner ... but just too high.
61 min: Some good work by Pedro down the right. He earns a corner which is taken quickly, and taken short. City are a little slow to react, Pedro eventually whipping a low ball into the mixer. It’s shinned away by Laporte.
60 min: Foden powers into the box from the left and sends a fierce low drive off the base of the post and out for a corner ... as Bachman got a little touch to that. Laporte meets the corner on the penalty spot, swivelling and whipping a shot over the bar. Decent effort, that.
58 min: A little bit of space for Sissoko, 25 yards out. The crowd urge him to have a pop. He bows to their wishes, but drags a poor effort well wide left.
57 min: Dennis is tapped on the shin by Rodri as he dribbles into the City box from the left. He goes over, belatedly, and demands a penalty. He’s not getting one. Last season, perhaps.
55 min: Cancelo creams a diagonal ball towards Sterling on the right. Sterling can’t reach it. Goal kick.
53 min: Grealish shapes to shoot on the edge of the box but dummies and rolls forward for Sterling, free for a second on the penalty spot. Sterling takes too much time and his eventual effort is blocked and Cathcart clips clear.
51 min: Cancelo miscontrols and slips, allowing Dennis to make off with the ball down the right. But upon reaching the box he runs into trouble, and City break up the other end. Sterling skitters down the right, moves infield, and bashes a shot straight at Bachmann. This is not going to end 0-2. It just can’t.
50 min: Sterling tries to cross from the right. Blocked. The ball drops back towards him, so, brimming with confidence against the team he loves to play against, he creams a volley towards the bottom left. Cathcart sticks out a leg to deflect out for a corner, which is just as well for Watford, as that was heading in. Nothing much occurs at the corner.
48 min: Watford may as well go for it, and Dennis and Pedro make their presence felt on the edge of the City box. They earn a rare corner, from which Pedro heads over harmlessly, but that’s better from the home side, who would at least test the champions resolve should they somehow get the next goal.
47 min: Sterling and Silva combine again, down the right to earn the first corner of the second half. It’s played short and worked backwards, then Gundogan slips Silva clear down the inside right. He fizzes a low ball across the face of goal. Grealish can’t meet it at the far post, and the flag goes up for offside anyway.
Watford get the second half underway. They’ve made two changes, replacing Cleverley and Louza with Hernandez and Kucka. Meanwhile Simon Johnston has been perusing the scoresheet, with hilarious consequences: “Sterling Silva? Who writes this stuff?” He’s here all week, ladies and gents. Try the pie and Bovril.
Half-time entertainment. This is lovely .
HALF TIME: Watford 0-2 Manchester City
The half-time whistle goes. Watford will wish it was the full-time one, because this scoreline seriously flatters the home side. City have been outrageously dominant and have created enough chances to fill a large hat.
45 min +1: Grealish reaches the byline on the right only for his cutback to deflect into the arms of Bachmann. Watford launch a counter, Sissoko making ground down the right. His cross clanks off Laporte and into the arms of Ederson. The home fans want a free kick for a deliberate backpass, but the referee is, quite correctly, not interested.
45 min: Even more effortless football. There will be two added minutes.
43 min: More keepball.
41 min: Silva jigs his way down the right and slips a pass through three defenders towards Gundogan. The resulting shot is blocked out for a corner, which is claimed by Bachmann.
39 min: Foden rolls a ball down the left to release Cancelo, whose low cross is hoicked clear by Femenia. City are pulling Watford all over the place.
38 min: City are knocking it around for their own entertainment. A long game of keepball.
36 min: Silva smoothly makes his way down the inside-right channel and is this close to releasing Gundogan with a slip down the channel. The ball breaks to Sterling on the right; his cross is blocked by Rose. City are rampant.
34 min: Foden misses an absolute sitter. A cross comes in from the right. Troost-Ekong misses his header, the ball dropping to Foden on the spot. Foden spins and slices wide left. This quite feasibly could already be a cricket score.
32 min: ... and then Rose is booked for a late lunge on Grealish, earlier in the move. That all happened just as Watford were tentatively working their way into the match, asking a couple of polite questions up the other end.
GOAL! Watford 0-2 Manchester City (Silva 31)
Gundogan is sent into the box by Silva. He takes a touch to the right, but Bachmann parries his low drive. No matter! The ball falls to Silva, who rounds the keeper and lashes home from a tight angle on the right. A sensational finish to a quick break upfield.
Updated at 7.12pm GMT
30 min: Dennis’s effort is harmlessly deflected through to Ederson. City then do what they do, attempting to play through the Watford press, but uncharacteristically get it wrong this time, allowing Sissoko the chance to shoot from 20 yards. Miles over.
29 min: Some good work by King, who latches onto a loose clearance by Laporte and threatens to bomb down the inside-left channel. He’s nicked by Dias, who is fairly fortunate not to go into the book. It’s a free kick, though.
28 min: Gundogan has a dig from the edge of the D. His effort clanks off the back of Grealish and out for a goal kick.
27 min: Cancelo screeches a speculative low drive wide right from 25 yards.
26 min: Well, the corner does lead to trouble, but only for Watford. Ederson punches it clear, and suddenly Sterling is romping up the other end on the counter. Watford look extremely light at the back, but Dennis tracks back to stop Sterling with a fine block.
25 min: Pedro turns on the jets and dribbles down the left at pace. He wins a corner. A chance for the hosts to load the box and cause a little trouble themselves.
23 min: Sterling and Silva play a lovely one-two down the right. Sterling’s sent clear into the box. He can’t quite get his feet in order to shoot, though, and the ball breaks to Grealish, 12 yards out. Grealish leans back and hoicks a shot over the bar, with poor Bachmann seriously isolated. City really should have scored there.
21 min: Grealish sashays his way down the middle and nearly breaks clear into the box. Not quite, but he still spots a little room between a couple of defenders to poke a shot through. His effort takes a deflection but Bachmann isn’t fooled and is able to save.
19 min: Gundogan, deep on the left, very nearly loops a lovely ball onto the boot of Sterling, zipping down the middle. Just a yard too far upfield, and Bachmann is able to gather.
17 min: Dennis shows again, scampering down the right touchline then cutting infield to whistle a shot towards the bottom right. It might have been going wide, but Ederson got down to smother easily enough anyway.
16 min: Space for Sterling down the right. He fizzes low and hard through the six-yard box, but there’s nobody in second-choice white, featuring all-over water graphics and iridescent accents, to trundle home. “How weird to see a young Judi Dench in that Z-Cars clip,” writes Rob Lewis. “Apparently she’s an Everton fan (who knew?), so I expect she’ll want Man City to win this one, so as to blunt the hopes of the Red side of Liverpool.”
Updated at 5.47pm GMT
15 min: Watford finally show in attack, which is probably going to be their best form of defence. Dennis crosses from the right, hoping to find King in the middle. Laporte eyebrows away from danger, just in time.
14 min: Watford haven’t conceded a chance for three minutes, which is progress of sorts.
12 min: They’ve just shown a replay of the King challenge on Foden. King’s lucky not to have walked for that, you know, studding his opponent on the ankle. You’ve seen folk sent off for less. Goodness knows what might happen if Watford go down to ten.
11 min: This is absurd. Foden makes good down the left again, and hooks infield for Grealish, whose attempt to slide home is parried by the busy Bachmann. His first touch, a little heavy, gave the keeper a chance. Watford are hanging on by their fingernails here.
9 min: The corner from the left leads to some pinball in the six-yard box. The ball’s forced out for another corner, this time on the right. From that one, Grealish is afforded a free header, six yards out. He really should score, but slaps his effort straight at Bachmann. This could already be three or four. Watford are in a spot of bother here.
8 min: This already has the sniff of rout about it. Sterling drifts in from the right and sends a low shot across Bachmann and towards the bottom left. The ball’s tipped around the post for a corner.
There is also warm and heartfelt applause for the memory of the tragic Arthur Labinjo-Hughes . Rest in peace, little man.
Updated at 6.05pm GMT
7 min: King is booked for an over-zealous challenge on Foden.
6 min: Sterling has now scored 11 goals in nine career appearances against Watford. Don’t rule out that statistic ballooning further this evening.
GOAL! Watford 0-1 Manchester City (Sterling 4)
Foden crosses from the left. Sterling, running in from the other flank, meets the cross and steers a downward header across Bachmann and into the net. Just four minutes gone, and yet that had been in the post.
Updated at 6.08pm GMT
3 min: City keep the pressure on, and the ball comes almost immediately back to Laporte, six yards out. He opts to leave the ball to Grealish, unmarked next to him. Grealish is somewhat surprised and doesn’t react. Doesn’t matter, though, because ...
2 min: Sterling and Walker combine down the right, forcing Cathcart into the early concession of a corner. Laporte meets it, steering a header towards the top right. It’s heading in, Bachmann beaten all ends up, but Pedro heads off the line! What a start that could have been.
City get the ball rolling ... but only after the taking of the knee. Warm applause greets the gesture. There’s no room for racism.
Smooth, seamless segue dept. Like Everton, Watford run out to the Theme to Z-Cars. Here they come, in their yellow and black shirts. City sport second-choice white, featuring all-over water graphics and iridescent accents, it says here. We’ll be off in a minute1
Updated at 5.29pm GMT
We had a bumper edition of PRE-MATCH PESSIMISM: THE EVERTON WAY ahead of this week’s Merseyside derby. It’s proved popular enough for us to publish another edition today, albeit a shorter one. “Sigh,” begins Eric Peterson. “To be an Everton fan right now. Just when I thought the latest Miseryside Derby was safely in the rear view mirror, I have to deal with the sight of Divock Origi scoring the game-winner in injury time. Sigh.” You have to admire Eric’s commitment to our ongoing feature, despite Everton not even playing today. Pre-Match Pessimism: less a feature, more a way of life.
Updated at 5.26pm GMT
Claudio Ranieri - who, and this statistic is weird enough to classify as psychedelic, has won eight of his nine matches against Manchester City - speaks to Sky. “Another big team, the champions of the Premier League. We will try to do our match. It will be hard, but we always believe and that is important. We have to play. Everything is a good experience for us. Our philosophy is OK, and we are ready.”
Pep talks to Sky. “Watford are so demanding. Against Leicester and Chelsea they played really well, and beat United. They create chances and have a clear philosophy under Claudio Ranieri. We have to adapt to what they do in attack and impose, when we have the ball, our game.”
A big result at Molineux. Wolverhampton Wanderers were 60 seconds of injury time away from becoming the first team to stop Liverpool from scoring this season. Then Divock Origi snatched the most dramatic of winners, and Liverpool leapfrog Chelsea into top spot! City can knock them off with a win here, but that’s a massive goal and a sickener not only for a determined Wolves side but also for the deposed leaders.
Watford make one change to the starting XI named for the 2-1 defeat by Chelsea. Danny Rose replaces the injured Adam Masina at left-back.
Manchester City make five changes to the side that beat Aston Villa 2-1. Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker and Aymeric Laporte take the places of Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Fernandinho, Olexander Zinchenko and Nathan Ake, all of whom drop to the bench.
Watford: Bachmann, Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Rose, Louza, Dennis, Cleverley, Sissoko, Joao Pedro, King.
Subs: Ngakia, Gosling, Fletcher, Tufan, Kabasele, Hernandez, Kucka, Elliot, Morris.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Foden, Grealish.
Subs: Stones, Ake, Gabriel Jesus, Zinchenko, Steffen, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Carson.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
Watford were unlucky not to get at least a point against Chelsea on Wednesday night. Whether that performance will give them hope for this evening’s visits of champions Manchester City is a moot point, because here, in reverse order, are their last unlucky 13 results against the Citizens: 0-4, 0-8, 0-6, 1-3, 1-2, 1-3, 0-6, 0-5, 0-2, 1-2, 0-2, 2-4, 0-3. That’s a cumulative score of 50-6 in City’s favour.
All runs have to end sometime, and to be fair Watford drew both games in the Premier League in 2006-07, and actually won one in the old First Division back in April 1987. That victory, their last against tonight’s opponents in the top flight, put bottom-placed City on the brink of a relegation that would be confirmed three weeks later. But these were different times, and you wouldn’t put the entire mortgage on it happening tonight. Still, football is as football does, and you never know. Kick off at Vicarage Road is at 5.30pm. It’s on!