Manchester City went into their 20th game in the Premier League against Watford City at Vicarage road after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Leicester City and standing at the 3rd spot, 6 points off Arsenal.
A loss at the hands of flying Watford could possibly push them down to the 4th position. Watford though, went into this game with an impeccable record, having had just a single loss in their last 7 matches. For the visitors, De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero were in fine form whilst for the hosts Ighalo was himself in an unstoppable form, having scored 13 goals in his last 19 games.
The Citizens would love to add some away wins as their away form has not been good this time around, having gained just 3 points out of a possible 18.
The match looked rather slow for over an hour until Watford took a much deserved lead with an own goal by Kolarov which was forced by a beautiful corner by Ben Howard at the 54th min. Watford then took command of the match, until Yaya Toure smashed in a great ball from a precise pass from Kolarov at the 82nd minute. Things went from bad to worse for the hornets as they conceived yet another goal 2 mins later, scored by Sergio Aguero from a Sagna cross. So the citizens went home with all the 3 points even after a pretty good display from Watford.
1. City missed Kompany.
Manchester city had a rather shaky performance at the back. Mangala and Otamendi looked uncertain on more than one occasion. Mangala looked the less settled of the two and was backed up by Otamendi when the Frenchmen gave away the ball to Ighalo early on in the match. The young centre-backs lacked the calm and solid presence of captain Vincent Kompany, who was out injured and not included in the squad.
During the dying moments of the game, Pellegrini sent in Demichelis to steady the defence and hold on to the narrow lead. Though the pairing of Otamendi and Mangala is not performing as expected, the presence of Kompany with either of the two makes City solid at the back. Ighalo and Deeney had their share of good chances today due to an uncertain City defence.
2. Sergio Aguero has improved with game time.
The Manchester city frontman looked sluggish for most part of the game. Aguero returned a few weeks back from a heel injury against the gunners in a 2-1 loss. The striker had more than a few heavy touches today and lacked the killer finish which he is famous for. The striker headed a perfect goal from an unbelievable cross from Sagna. Pellegrini was rewarded by Aguero for having faith in his ability and picking him over Bony in the starting line-up, even though the Ivorian had more game time in the past few weeks and was fit. In the beginning, Aguero missed a few good chances due to heavy touches or delay but later on found his form, making good runs inside the box and troubling the Watford centre backs. And with that great header, its safe to say the City hitman is back on fire.
3. Ighalo made his presence felt.
The Nigerian striker had another great performance, yet had nothing on the score sheet to show for it. The first real chance of the match fell into the hands of Ighalo who tested the three lions keeper Joe Hart within the 20 mins mark. He made many great runs inside the box looking for crosses. His presence troubled the centre back pairing of Otamendi and Mangala.
Ighalo engineered a few great counter-attacks along with Deeney. The Watford frontman had a great year scoring 13 goals in the initial 19 games and would be disappointed to not add to his tally against the citizens.
4. Silva and Sterling were quiet.
The attacking midfielders had yet another disappointing evening at Vicarage Road. Sterling was missing from action for most part of the game. Sterling has 5 goals and an assist this season but considering the huge £50 million City paid for the youngster, it seems like a small contribution.
The youngster was again kept quiet for the majority of the match by Cathcart and Nyom. Raheem Sterling appeared frustrated and honestly, disinterested. The defense of Watford dealt easily with the City play-maker David Silva, who has had a rather poor season that has yielded only a single goal this season. The two were saved by great performances from De Bruyne and Yaya Toure.
5. Yaya Toure looked his old self.
Yaya Toure had a great game. He controlled the pace of the game along side Fernandinho. Although his performance was not as good as his masterclass performances seen in the past few seasons, he got the job done. Toure showed that he still can produce title race saving magical moments when he smashed in a peach of a goal to equalise at Vicarage Road. His consistency has been questioned this season on a few occasions but the midfield maestro surely showed his critics that he can still produce wonders to steer City close to the premier league title.