Watford will welcome the tough test of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon in an encounter that sees two of the Premier League’s unbeaten sides face-off.
City have begun the 2017-18 campaign in expectedly rampant fashion, out-lining their title credentials last weekend with a ruthless 5-0 humiliation of fellow top-six side Liverpool at the Etihad.
However, Watford’s start to the year has certainly been more surprising, with new manager Marco Silva seemingly picking up from where he left off whilst at Hull City and rejuvenating the Hornets already.
Watford have gone from strength to strength since their dramatic draw with Liverpool on the opening weekend, picking up two convincing away victories over Bournemouth and Southampton.
A 0-0 stalemate against newly-promoted Brighton is perhaps their only slip-up so far but, when considering they played over 60 minutes with ten-men, it’s been an excellent start to the season.
Yet they will face formidable opposition in Manchester City, securing wins over Brighton and Bournemouth before turning on the style with two heavy victories over the course of seven days.
Their dominant victory over Feyenoord on Wednesday night in the Champions League was just as impressive as their dismantling of Liverpool, and Watford will be wary of a free-scoring City outfit.
Watford are in the midst of yet another defensive crisis this season, with Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prodl ruled out after picking up injuries and Miguel Britos still serving his suspension.
This paves the way for deadline day loan signing Molla Wague to make his Premier League debut alongside Christian Kabasele, whilst right-back Kiko Femenia has returned to training in the week.
Manchester City manager Guardiola is expected to put out a strong starting eleven on Saturday afternoon, with David Silva and Sergio Aguero withdrawn early in the week in preparation for Watford.
Raheem Sterling could potentially make a come-back following his suspension, although captain Vincent Kompany doesn’t look like he’ll be passed fit in time to return from a new calf problem.
Match Prediction: Watford 1-2 Manchester City
If somebody had said just over a month ago that this match would be an encounter between two teams unbeaten after their opening four matches, not many Watford fans would have believed it.
But Marco Silva has stamped his mark on an uninspiring Watford squad, and City can expect a far tougher test than their 5-0 victory on the final day of last season at Vicarage Road this time around.
The likes of Andre Gray and Richarlison will undoubtedly provide a test for the visitors but, considering that Watford are without a number of key defenders, City should have enough optins on the bench to win.