Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden start - Predicted Man City line-up vs Watford - George Smith
Manchester|December 03, 2021
City, who have won each of their last 13 meetings with the Hertfordshire-based club, will be looking to build on Wednesday evening's 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park, which kept them hot on the heels of current Premier League table-toppers Chelsea.
Victory over Villa has left City just one point behind Thomas Tuchel's side, but that gap could be opened back up to four by the time City kick-off on Saturday, with Chelsea facing West Ham United in the day's early kick-off.
Nevertheless, City will fancy their chances of reducing that gap back to one point if Chelsea do win earlier in the day, with manager Pep Guardiola having delivered no shortage of positive news on the injury front.
The likes of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, amongst others, are all fit, firing and ready to go, meaning the City chief has no shortage of options to choose from when it comes to naming his starting line-up.
Although Guardiola may face some difficult choices, it is guaranteed that Brazilian shot-stopper Ederson will start in goal. The 28-year-old has kept seven clean sheets in 13 Premier League outings this season, meaning he will want to add to that tally against Claudio Ranieri's side.
The back four, which was far from the usual quartet at Villa, is likely to have a more familiar look to it against Watford, with Aymeric Laporte, Walker and Stones all back available for selection. Walker is likely to slot straight back in at right-back, meaning Joao Cancelo will return to the left side of the defence after making the switch across against Villa.
Ruben Dias is a certain starter at centre-back, meaning it is likely to be a toss-up between Stones and Laporte for who lines up alongside the Portuguese ace. Laporte, who missed out against Villa through suspension, got the nod against West Ham United last weekend, meaning he is more likely to start this one as well.
With several big-name players back available, City's midfield combination against Watford promises to be interesting. However, Guardiola may adopt a cautious approach when deciding whether or not to throw certain figures straight back into the fold.
With Rodri and Bernardo Silva highly likely to retain their places, it remains to be seen if De Bruyne will return from the start, or be forced to settle for a starting berth on the bench. For what it's worth, De Bruyne has missed several weeks worth of action, meaning the returning Gundogan, who only missed the win over Villa, may get the nod.
In attack, Guardiola, again, has plenty of options available to him, especially now that Jack Grealish and Foden are ready to step back into the frame.
Raheem Sterling has started the last four games in all competitions and has scored two goals and grabbed one assist during that time, meaning he deserves to retain his place out wide on the left.
On the opposite flank, Gabriel Jesus should be the man running down the wing and supplying the returning Foden, meaning Riyad Mahrez is the unfortunate figure that has to miss out from the win at Villa.
Predicted City XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri, Bernardo, Gundogan; Jesus, Foden, Sterling.
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