John Stones and Fernandinho are also sidelined but Aymeric Laporte could be fit for the first time since the Carabao Cup final. Kevin de Bruyne misses out after suffering a hamstring injury during Manchester City’s win at Bournemouth.
Watford pair Kiko Femenia and Sebastian Prodl are available, meaning head coach Javi Gracia has a fully-fit squad. Femenia missed the win over Leicester through illness and Prodl has recovered from knee and hamstring injuries.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
@SteveBowercomm: The Manchester City engine is purring as the laps decrease.
Ten games ago, City trailed Liverpool by 10 points but now they have the opportunity – for one night at least – to go four clear at the stage of the season where psychological questions are beginning to be asked.
The last two of City’s nine wins in 10 have been 1-0. They know how to manage games at this stage of a campaign.
Watford are having an outstanding season and still have Wembley in their sights. However, they have lost their last 12 games away at the top six, and Liverpool will be hoping the Hornets can put up more of a fight than their recent trip to Anfield.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “It is one of the toughest games we have in the last nine games. They have physicality, quality one on one, they are strong in the air, well organised.
“It’s the last game before 21 days without the Premier League, before the international break. At home it’s massively important for us to take our points.”
Watford head coach Javi Gracia: “You know City have high-quality players, a very good squad and maybe you have to do perfect defensive work.
“You have less possession than them, for sure, and you have to manage your possession to create some chances to score. Do very good defensive work and at the end, if you do it, you have some options to get a good result.”
I only see this game going one way. Manchester City have squeezed past West Ham and Bournemouth in their past two games, winning 1-0 on both occasions, but I am not sure Watford will go for a shut-out in the same way.
Even if they do, I don’t think they are good enough defensively to pull it off.
- Manchester City have never lost a Premier League game against Watford (W7, D2), winning the last seven in a row by an aggregate score of 22-3.
- In all competitions, Watford have lost their last nine meetings with Manchester City and are winless in 14 since a 1-0 home victory in the second tier on 4 March 1989.
- Manchester City have won nine of their past 10 league games, including a current run of five in a row.
- They have kept a clean sheet in four successive Premier League matches, and in six of their last eight fixtures in the division.
- City have earned 42 of the 45 points available to them in home games this season, losing only against Crystal Palace in December.
- Sergio Aguero has scored 10 goals in six appearances against Watford, including two hat-tricks.
- Aguero has ended on the winning side in each of the last 24 league fixtures he has started at the Etihad Stadium, scoring 30 goals.
- Riyad Mahrez has scored a goal in each of his last six Premier League appearances against Watford.
- Three wins in the past four league games is as many as Watford managed in their previous 15 fixtures.
- A 13th league victory of the season would be the most recorded by Watford within a single top-flight campaign since 1986-87, when they earned 18 wins.
- The Hornets have suffered 12 successive league defeats away to the established top-six teams since a 2-1 win at Arsenal in January 2017.
- They have also lost all nine of their Premier League matches against sides starting the day top, conceding 26 goals.
- Troy Deeney has scored five Premier League goals and provided three assists in nine games this calendar year – he only managed six goals and two assists in 33 appearances in 2018.
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