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Watford vs Manchester City at Vicarage Road

Vicarage Road Referee : Simon Hooper
4th December 2021 5:30 PM (GMT)
  • 1 Watford

    • ‘74' Cucho Hernández
  • 3 Manchester City

    • ‘4' Raheem Sterling
    • ‘31' Bernardo Silva
    • ‘63' Bernardo Silva


Commentary By Rob Pollard


Thank you and goodnight!

A fantastic day. 

Chelsea's defeat and our win means we move top of the Premier League table for the first time this season. 

We were brilliant. 

Don't forget to watch the highlights of the game on the Man City app from 21:15 (GMT). 

And CITY+ subscribers can watch a full 90-minute replay from midnight. 

That's all from me - join us again soon. We'll have full coverage of our game in Germany on Tuesday!


Shaun Goater on Matchday Live

"I was up on my feet! Bernardo amazes me, his performances week in week out, he’s a joy. 

"You’re thinking if you’re a Watford defender, stop him coming inside. He has the quality to not only come in on his left but also deliver it. 

"That was just a beautiful finish."


More from Pep

"Scoring goals is the most difficult thing in football and we’re not specialists but we’re playing well and it’s important to create the chances. 

"Now is the momentum from Bernardo, another day it will be Phil, then Raz.

"The most important thing is the performance. The result can be random but consistency is the most important thing to help us be a stable team, that’s why we’ve won seven in a row."


Pep reaction

"We are consistent and winning games - but in football anything can go down in one second. 

"More than satisfied with how we have done during this period. Keep going with this rhythm and keep trying to play good."


Guardiola reaction

"Today one team drop points, next week could be us or Liverpool.

"Many things can happen. 

"There’s many games to come and it’s the toughest part of the season with many games. We'll try to continue in this level and this rhythm."



City's 26 attempts the most of this season and the most in a Premier League game since July 2020 - when City beat Norwich at the Etihad. 



"My first four goals this season were all tap ins! 

"It’s true the last few have been quite good. What matters is putting the ball in the net, finishing the actions. 

"We don't have a striker. We have a lot of players who try and get in the box. 

"Our midfielders, winger, False 9. We try to get numbers in the box because if we do our chances will increase. 

"If we arrive in the box, we will score goals and that's what we will keep trying to do."



"Liverpool are only one point behind but it’s better to be in our position. Liverpool and Chelsea are doing an amazing season. 

"It will be tough for us and for them to compete. We know how tough it is to win this league, but we will do our best like we always do."


City set new club record with win at Watford

City’s 3-1 win over Watford on Saturday means we have set a new club record for top-flight league victories in a calendar year.

It was our 31st league win in 2021, surpassing the previous record of 30 set in both 2017 and 2019. 

And with another five league games to play in 2021, there’s a strong chance Pep Guardiola’s side could extend the record further. 

It’s the latest statistic underlining our incredible consistency. 

City are now top of the Premier League table, one point ahead of second-placed Liverpool. 


Four added minutes

Four minutes of added time at the end of this game. 

City passing the ball around and looking to see the game out without any further scares. 


Update from our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"Sooner or later Ederson is going to chalk up that elusive 100th clean sheet but we just have to wait a bit longer.

"Didn’t see that Watford goal coming but fair play to the Hornets.

"They have never stopped trying even with City’s quality and assurance on the ball.

"On the positive side, how good to see Kevin De Bruyne back on the pitch after his COVID-19 related absence?"


Close shave

King flashes a shot inches wide. 

Fantastic technique to get that much power on the ball. 

If that had gone in, we were in for a frantic finale. 


Update from our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"Wow. What a goal, and what a player Bernardo is

"Already this half, Sterling, Foden who struck the foot of the post, Laporte and now Gundogan had all gone so close to extending our advantage.

"But then Bernardo took centre stage once again with a quite stunning goal.

"The Portuguese master cut inside in the Hornets before curling a quite stunning shot into the far corner of the net.

"A brilliant, brilliant goal from a wonderful player.

"Just a privilege to watch him go about his business."


The best there is right now


Bernardo picked the ball up on the right on the edge of the area, cut inside and curled and absolute dream of a shot into the top corner for his second and City's third. 

He is ridiculously good. The best player in England at the moment. 


Breaking at pace

Superb counter ends with Gundogan firing over the bar. 

It was the German who collected the ball in our half and burst forward. 

He eventually played in Sterling, who almost immediately played a return pass to Gundogan on the edge of the area. 

He struck it first time, but it cleared the crossbar. 


Update from our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"By this stage last Wednesday, Aston Villa had halved the deficit and were making life a lot tougher for us.

"Reassuring then to see that City have come out and looked to take the game to Watford just as in that first 45.

"Bachmann has made a fine save to deny Sterling a second on a devastating City counter-attack but you do sense a third goal is very much on the cards if we maintain focus and application."


End to end

Foden digs in and gets back to help Cancelo, who lost his footing and possession of the ball.

He wins the ball and we break at pace, Sterling goes past his man and gets a shot away but Bachmann makes the save.


Sterling shining

Sterling fires in a left-footed volley but Cathcart manages to deflect it over. 

Sterling looking very, very sharp again today. 



Early sight of goal. Bernardo flashes a cross right across the six yard box, but there's no finishing touch at the end of it. 

Dangerous moment. 


Shaun Goater on Matchday Live

"It was wonderful, we started like Formula 1 - straight out of the blocks. 

"Grealish...he’ll want to score, he’s popped up with a couple of chances."


Update from our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"Same 2-0 half time scoreline as at Villa Park in midweek and it has been a similar story of domination and devastating City attacks.

"Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva on target and you do get the feeling there are more goals in the offing.

"While Watford look to attack with hope, every time City march forward forward you genuinely expect us to score.

"So many excellent individual displays with Sterling, Gundogan and Foden in sparkling form while Jack Grealish has done everything but find the target.

"Villa made it hard in the second half last Wednesday with that early 47th minute strike – hopefully that memory will ensure we don’t ease up the momentum this time out…"


Andy Morrison on Matchday Live

"It was dominant. I’m always mindful of being respectful but it’s been such a mismatch. 

"We could’ve scored two or three inside ten minutes and Watford are fortunate it’s not four or five. 

"It’s so easy to open them up and it’s been a really tough night for Watford."


Top performance

Impressive so far from City. Plenty of attacking intent and, as ever, a desire to fight for the ball whenever it's lost. 

Solid display. 


Possession is key

City lost the ball briefly there and Foden scampered across to win the ball back within five seconds. 

Those Guardiola training drills in action on game day. 


Update from our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"I was about to write that the only thing missing from our game was that finishing touch – and then Bernardo popped up with that peach of a goal.

"So much to admire about our work this evening going forward.

"Once again Pep’s City manage to make the difficult and intricate look so easy when it’s anything but.

"And what can one say about Bernardo and his impact this season?

"The Portuguese international is simply a joy to watch."


Should be three

Foden flashes an effort wide from inside the area. 

Sliced it. Connection not what he would have wanted. 

A real chance to make it three. 


Bernardo is QUALITY

Swift move from City!

Bernardo finds Gundogan, whose effort is saved by Bachmann. 

But Bernardo picks up the loose ball and scores from a tight angle. 

Absolutely quality player!


Multi-faceted City

What I love about this City side is the numerous ways we can play. 

We usually dominate possession and play at pace on the front foot. And when we need to, we can play keep ball to frustrate sides and slow the game down. 

But we can also counter-attack quickly, like we showed at Villa Park on Wednesday and Brighton a few weeks ago. 


Update from our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"After that blistering start City could – and arguably should – be further ahead.

"But Watford managed to overcome that early onslaught without conceding a second goal and caused the odd moment of danger in the City box.

"Ederson needed to be alert to keep out an Emmanuel Dennis low shot and City have had to remain alert and focused when the hosts look to attack on the counter.

"Worth remembering that Watford hammered Manchester United here and gave Chelsea a tough time on Wednesday.

"A reminder that plenty of work is still required here."


Another sight of goal

Grealish wriggles his way though a few challenges and gets a deflected shot away. 

Bachmann adjust well and makes the save.  


A more balanced affair

Watford has stabilised themselves after a somewhat difficult start. 

The opening few minutes saw City ripping through the home side almost at will. 

Much more balanced now. 


Update from our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"The dream start for City here with Raheem Sterling heading us into a third minute lead and all that after a Laporte header was cleared off the line.

"And only a superb save from Watford keeper Bachmann diving to his right, denied Sterling a second from his curling shot.

"Grealish then sees his downward header gobbled by Bachmann when we were waiting for the net to bulge before he is denied again

"Just as at Villa Park last Wednesday City have started full of intent and intensity.

"Early days yet of course but Pep Guardiola’s side look right in the mood."



Sterling forces a fine save from Bachmann, and then moments later the Watford 'keeper saves again, this time from Grealish, who found himself free inside the area and able to get a header away. 

Could easily be 2-0. 


Sixth-minute applause

Applause ringing out at Vicarage Road in the sixth minute in memory of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in the wake of his tragic murder. 


Fine move

Lovely move. 

Grealish finds Foden with a fine ball. Foden then whipped a cross to the back post and there was Sterling to head home. 



Andy Morrison on Matchday Live

"I can’t be any more confident with the starting XI or bench. There’s so much quality and there’ll be so many opportunities created. 

"Watford will offer a threat though, both teams to score but a City 4-1 win."


Our reporter Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

Loud and proud

"Just 10 minutes away from kick-off and the City fans away to my right are already in great voice here at Vicarage Road.

"They have had plenty to shout about so far this season – and with the tantalising prospect of top spot in the Premier League up for grabs if we can win tonight, hopefully there will be plenty more to shout about come full time!"


Goater on Sterling's record v Watford

"I was always aware of a team I scored against regularly and I reckon Sterling will know about his record (12 direct goal involvements in eight games). 

"He’ll be looking to get on the scoresheet tonight, it’s a phenomenal record. He’s coming into form, I’m loving what I’m seeing now, we’re seeing those darting runs."


Impressive stats 🔥

City have lost just two of our 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. 


Watford boss Claudio Ranieri

"Arriving here is another big team, the champions of the Premier League. 

"It will be hard but we always believe and it's imp to keep going. 

"We need points and everything is a good experience for us.

"We are ready." 


Shaun Goater on Matchday Live

"Jack Grealish, Phil Foden back, I’m really excited to see what they produce tonight. 

"There’s six or seven of my favourites in there. It’s a strong team and we’ll look to continue what we’ve been doing in the last few games, move the ball quickly, move the opposition and create loads of chances."


Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"Worth emphasising that there is no lack of impressive options available to Pep Guardiola on the bench this evening.

"A substitutes’ line up of Steffen, Carson, Stones, Ake, Jesus, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Fernandinho and Mahrez only further attests to the sheer quality and depth of City’s squad."


Shaun Goater on Chelsea and Liverpool results 🗣

"When I was in form and the team was, I wasn't bothered, my expectation is the City players aren't bothered either, it'll be 'we take care of our game'.

"After, it's how the result went but when the team was on form I didn't care how they did, I just wanted to take care of business."


Top spot?

Liverpool's 94th-minute winner at Wolves aside, City will still be top of the Premier League this evening should we pick up three points at Vicarage Road.


Andy Morrison on Matchday Live 🗣

"Watford have been unfortunate with injuries, there’s no pattern or continual team.

"In the Premier League if you don’t get a run of keeping the same back four and build up that understanding, you struggle.

"I expect City to score today, it doesn’t look great for them but Pep Guardiola shows respect for any team in front of him."


Ederson's expecting a tough test at Vicarage Road 🗣

“We are in good shape, we have won two important games against Everton and Aston Villa.

“(But) Watford isn't going to be easy, because they beat Manchester United, they put a lot of problems on Chelsea.

“It's going to be a very difficult game. They have a lot of quality and we will need to be ready so we don't get surprised.

“We are in a good run of games, except the game against Crystal Palace at home. It's part of football, we can't win every game.

“We need to learn how to deal with winning and losing. It's part of the growth of the individuals and the team.”


Shaun Goater on Rodrigo 🗣

High praise indeed from the Goat for our holding midfielder...

"I was probably one of those looking for something more, but he's gone about his game and it hasn't changed.

"He finds ways out of sticky situations, he's always showing, his positioning and cleverness to relieve the pressure with one touch, he does it seamlessly.

"I can't speak highly enough of him."


Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"Judging by the reaction of the Watford fans I have met here today there is an air of slight trepidation about the prospect of facing an in-form City – but also definite excitement.

"To a man, woman and child, everyone I’ve spoken to has expressed their huge admiration not just for the achievements of Pep Guardiola’s side – but also for the manner in which that success has been secured.

"And they have all said this is the fixture that they earmarked when dates for the new season were released back in the summer.

"A further testament to the esteem with which City are held in."


A real threat and ne to keep an eye on

Emmanuel Dennis has scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances – the only Hornets players to score in four in a row in the competition are Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, who both did so across November and December 2015.


Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"So, five changes to the City side from the team which performed with such distinction away at Aston Villa on Wednesday.

“Of course, such is the quality within Pep Guardiola’s squad, whoever is entrusted with a starting place invariably steps up to the plate.

"But there is no doubt the return to fitness of the likes of Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden is a huge boost in this most taxing of months with six matches still to follow after today.

"There’s a comforting familiarity to the look of our back line this afternoon with Ederson again marshalled by a back four of Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo.

"And with the likes of Gundogan, Foden and Grealish also back in action, no lack of attacking options too!”


City team

City XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Gundogan (C), Bernardo, Grealish Sterling, Foden 

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


More from Pep

"Decisions have to be made. I don't go home and think ‘oh what if I had taken another decision’.

“No one knows. I would love to admit when I make a mistake and I should have played someone else, but I can’t be sure either.

"I make decisions for many reasons. I never put a team on the field that I don’t think is the best one to win for many reasons. 

“It’s about right now. And there are many reasons I see every day that other people don't see. That's why I take the decisions.”



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. 


Six appeal

City have six on the spin in all competitions. 

November saw us register a perfect five wins in five games. 

It feels like we're finding our groove. 


Neil Leigh at Vicarage Road

"A definite winter chill in the air but blue skies and a clear outlook here at Vicarage Road with all the conditions set fair for what should be a cracking match. Pep Guardiola has made no secret of his admiration for the impressive work undertaken by Hornets boss Claudio Ranieri over the course of his illustrious career and the Italian has made an impressive start to his tenure at Watford, having taken charge in October.

"However, City go into the game seeking to round off a superb few days which first saw us beat West Ham 2-1 last Sunday amidst an Etihad snow storm and then secure a fine victory by the same scoreline at Aston Villa in midweek. Another positive result this evening would be the perfect way to round off the week."


Pep on Foden

“He has pain but it doesn’t matter; he says: ‘I play, I play.’ When he has discomfort and says he does not feel good, it’s because he does not feel good. 

"But he’s a guy who tolerates well. Normally you train with pain – it’s impossible to wake up in the morning and be clean with everything – but he’s a guy where it’s not a problem.

“He loves playing football too much. Even in a bad situation, he wants to play and play, and not all of them are like this. 

"Today he was training. He is not thinking about the injury now. I don’t know for tomorrow [if I choose him] but soon he will be back.”


Pep on KDB

“The doctor said to me - and what I saw - is really good.

“He has recovered taste already. He needs time for rhythm.

“Maybe tomorrow, maybe Tuesday he starts to get minutes and we put him in the dynamic of the team.”


Around the grounds

One result already in today. Leaders Chelsea lost away at West Ham. 

And at half-time in the 3pm kick offs, Southampton lead Brighton, Newcastle are in front at home to Burnley and Wolves and Liverpool are drawing 0-0. 

FT: West Ham 3-2 Chelsea 

HT: Newcastle 1-0 Burnley 

HT: Southampton 1-0 Brighton 

HT: Wolves 0-0 Liverpool  


Ederson on Bernardo

“To me, Bernardo Silva is among the five best players in the world. He has an amazing talent.

 “He's short, but it's impossible to take the ball from him. When you see him play, it reminds me a bit of (Lionel) Messi. Obviously, they are different players, but they have similar skills.

“Bernardo has phenomenal talent, he's an exceptional player. He helps the team a lot, he runs a lot.

“He's shown his amazing talent over the last games. I can't say anything negative about him. I hope he can stay for many years at Manchester City because it's a pleasure seeing him play.”


Decent run

Watford have never beaten City in the Premier League (D2, L10), losing their last 10 against us by an aggregate score of 37-4. 

It is the Hornets' longest top-flight losing streak against a single opponent.


Early team news 🗒

Pep Guardiola provided a welcome squad boost in his pre-match press conference on Friday.

The boss confirmed that Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne would all travel to Vicarage Road after missing Wednesday's victory at Aston Villa.

Aymeric Laporte also returns to the fold after serving a one-match suspension.

Ferran Torres remains sidelined as he continues to work his way back from a foot injury sustained on international duty in October but Guardiola says he progressing well.


It's matchday! ⚽

A very good morning, City fans.

City are back in action this evening with a trip to Vicarage Road, where we'll lock horns with Watford in a 17:30 (UK time) kick-off.

As always, we'll have all of the pre-match build-up, live coverage (including Alistair Mann's live commentary) and post-match reaction right here in the Matchday Centre from 15:30 as well as team news, a match report plus manager and player interviews on and our official app.

Meanwhile, our Matchday Live show with special guests Andy Morrison and Shaun Goater will begin just before 16:30, as the pair look ahead to the game and dissect the action at half-time and full-time - available on all of our platforms.

As always, audience participation is actively encouraged. To get in touch, send a WhatsApp to: +447537186538 or tweet us @ManCity.

Come on, City!

Other games that day

  • Newcastle United1
  • Southampton1
    Brighton and Hove Albion1
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers0
  • West Ham United3

As it stood

P GD Pts
2 Liverpool 15 +32 34
3 Chelsea 15 +26 33
4 West Ham United 15 +9 27
5 Arsenal 14 -3 23
6 Tottenham Hotspur 13 -4 22
7 Manchester United 14 0 21
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15 -1 21
9 Brighton and Hove Albion 15 -2 20
10 Leicester City 14 -3 19
11 Crystal Palace 14 -1 16
12 Brentford 14 -2 16
13 Aston Villa 14 -4 16
14 Southampton 15 -7 16
15 Everton 14 -7 15
16 Leeds United 14 -7 15
17 Watford 15 -9 13
18 Burnley 14 -7 10
19 Newcastle United 15 -13 10
20 Norwich City 14 -20 10
Link To Full Table