Skip to main content

Five Things We Learned: Watford 1-3 Man City (Premier League)

Pep Guardiola's side were scintillating at times, as Manchester City took all three points home from Hertfordshire at the weekend.

Manchester City flew out of the blocks from the first whistle, quickly opening the scoring through a smart Raheem Sterling header.

Though Sterling, Jack Grealish and Joao Cancelo all had opportunities to make it more than three, two impressive goals from the magnificent Bernardo Silva were enough to see City through Watford's second-half fightback.

The victory fired City to the top of the Premier League thanks to Chelsea's defeat against West Ham earlier on Saturday, making this the first time City have been in first place all season.

Here's what we learned from a fifth league win in a row!

Bernardo's Brilliant Brace

I called it in a Five Things Learned not long ago - Bernardo Silva looks like he's going on an Ilkay Gundogan-esque goalscoring run when we really need it.

The Portuguese midfielder has never been much of a goalscorer (with his previous best season being eight league goals), but then neither was Gundogan before last season. This year he's already scored seven.

They've been brilliant goals, too, particularly in the last week. His second against Watford was almost as good as that Villa volley, cutting inside from the right wing and curling an unsaveable effort into the top corner. 

This season, he's been far and away the best midfielder in the Premier League. And as we enter the busiest run of the campaign, having a technically brilliant star who's known for his stamina and resilience could be the difference-maker in the title race.

Sterling's Resurgence Continues

If there were any lingering doubts - and I'm not sure there should have been- that Raheem Sterling's poor form was only temporary, they have been dissipated by his output against Watford. A vintage Sterling goal opened the scoring after a few minutes, with the England star ghosting into space to head City into the lead.

While the finish - his fourth in six games - was as deft as it was crucial, this still felt like the performance of a man who's shaking off the last of the rust. He made the wrong decisions in a few counter-attacks and gave the ball away with some poor touches that simply don't happen when he's at his devastating best. When he goes up that last gear, we've got one of the best forwards in the league back.

It's great news for City.

Read More

Foden Back With An Assist

Who supplied the cross that allowed Sterling to score? Phil Foden, of course.

The wonderkid's last league goal contribution for City was against Brighton in late October, but injuries have kept him out of action for most of the matches since. He returned to the starting lineup against Watford, and did so with an early assist. 

We've certainly missed him. Playing mostly off the left wing, Foden can link up and one-touch pass at a level and a tempo beyond most of our squad. He was in the thick of things throughout his stay on the pitch, earning a rest in the second half. 

The question now is whether we'll see Phil in Tuesday's dead-rubber in Leipzig. Personally, I think he'll start; we know how much Pep likes to get minutes into the legs of returning midfielders. 

De Bruyne's Return

Another player coming back from an absence against Watford was Kevin de Bruyne, who got his first City minutes in almost a full month. I thought the Belgian looked promising and, like Foden, I expect to see him start against Leipzig. 

But it does raise the question of where De Bruyne fits in the team at the moment. This incredible midfield triangle of Rodri, Gundogan and Silva has been far too good for any of them to be dropped, after all.

Will we see a return to false nine for our #17? Maybe, but that would make it tricky to fit our seven other forwards into just two spots. It'll be interesting to see how De Bruyne gets himself back into a team that's ticking over so brilliantly at the moment.

Grealish Getting Better

Making his first start since early November, Jack Grealish put in one of his best performances in a City shirt to date against Watford.

He was unstoppable at times, slotting into a false nine role and always getting involved in the attack. It's becoming more and more obvious just how good Jack is technically, which is bound to make him one of the league's best players once he's up to full speed. 

The only criticism I would level at Grealish's performance was his finishing, which was wasteful at times. But Sterling only scored six league goals in his first City season, as did Bernardo Silva, while it took Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez a while to get up to speed in front of goal.

The point is that we almost never see the best of a Pep midfielder or winger in their first year, and if Grealish is already getting into good positions, it's safe to say that the goals will come.