It’s been a busy week in soccer with qualification play in the Europa League and Champions League midweek followed by national league play this weekend. Saturday will feature a big day of betting across Europe and the English Premier League is no exception. In one of five fixtures set for Saturday defending Premiership champions Manchester City will try to bounce back from a rare defeat in league play as they host cellar dwelling Watford at Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s troops lost a 3-2 decision at Norwich City last Saturday but bounced back in impressive fashion in a tough spot, ripping Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in Champions League Group play. Of course, that won’t be enough for Guardiola and with his attention back to matters in England bumbling Watford is in the wrong place at the wrong time. To be fair, the Hornets have picked up the quality of their play since opening the league season with consecutive losses. They’ve now played in back to back draws at Newcastle United and home against Arsenal.
This is a big step up in class, however, and Manchester City has a five point deficit between themselves and Liverpool to make up. Liverpool faces a tough test this weekend at Chelsea so a victory here could be crucial and help City cut into the Liverpool advantage very quickly. As expected, City has been solid though not dominant thus far at Etihad Stadium in the early going with a 1-1-0 record though their goal scoring looks good with 6 scored and just 2 conceded. City has won 3 of 4 in all competitions and have scored 2+ goals in 8 of their last 9. They have won 16 of their last 17 in all competitions at Etihad Stadium with the lone exception the home draw to Tottenham Hotspur last month.
Credit to Watford for a scrappy start in the return of Quique Sanchez Flores as the Hornets manager. The team managed to reverse a 2-0 halftime deficit to Watford to forge a tie but that still leaves them in the Premiership basement and only one of two league teams to have not won a game this year (Wolves are the other). Watford has just one win in 11 in all competitions and that came against League One Coventry City. They’ve also won only once in their last 7 away games in venues significantly less formidable than Etihad Stadium. City beat Watford twice last year, ripped them 6-0 in the FA Cup Final and have now won 6 straight in all competitions.