There has been a lot of talk of Manchester City being frustrated at Leicester City in their last game. Currently third, the Foxes did frustrate City, but a clean sheet without Vincent Kompany, against a side who score for fun, should not be considered a bad result I think. Before Liverpool scored the only goal of Leicester’s previous game we must remember the side was top at Christmas and have so far not lost at home to Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United while also upsetting teams like Everton and Southampton on their turf.
The truth is that, at the halfway point of the season, City find themselves only three points behind the leaders, both of which would be looked at falling away, Arsenal certainly have that tradition as the New Year arrives. A concerning aspect is the amount of games away from home without a win for the Blues, but again I go back to the fact we find ourselves only three points behind the leaders despite this ‘poor form’.
City have enjoyed a 46 win percentage in those games overall but away from Manchester the reading is much more grim. City have only come away from Watford with the single win, a 2-1 victory on the 20th January 2002 thanks to a Paulo Wanchope and own goal from Helguson. In Keegans first season with the Blues it signaled our bounce back to the Premier League where we have stayed ever since
You are only as strong as your last game though and hopefully Sunday morning we will wake up with big smiles on our faces with winning ways restored away from the Etihad, and no more talk of our ‘away form’. In the over 125 year history each club can boast, the sides have only met thirteen times in competitive games. Part of this has to do with the fact that Watford spent most of its early years in the lower leagues while City were in the top flight, or sometimes the second tier, during that period.
In fact, the first meeting between the two, in competitive action, was on 4th September 1982 a century and more after each sides formation, at Maine Road. That's only four days from being exactly thirty three years ago from this weekends game. City were relegated that season as Watford finished second to Liverpool. An interesting fact about that game was the injury to
Joe Corrigan with just minutes on the clock. Back then goalkeepers were rarely named as substitutes and so City defender Bobby McDonald spent almost all the game as goalkeeper. Dennis Tueart scored the only goal as City made it three wins from their opening three games. That season also marked the first season in which sponsors names appeared on City shirts with SAAB being City's first suitors.
In the only twenty games, Cup and League, between the two, City have only lost six times. The last defeat was back in 1989 when both sides were in the second tier of English football. In top flight League football only the sides have only met eight times and it is in those eight games which have Watford with a clear advantage. That opening win almost 33 years back was City's only victory. The return game was a 2-0 defeat while both matches in the 1985/86 season were Watford wins. In that season City and Watford would actually meet five times with their FA Cup meeting going to two replays before City would lose 3-1.
You have to go back to the 2006/07 season for the last time these two sides met up in Premier League competition with three American players between the two sides. Watford's Jay DeMerit lined up in both games while City featured Claudio Reyna at home and DaMarcus Beasley for the game at Vicarage Road. Both were tied games, 0-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium and 1-1 away at Watford. It was that 1-1 in April, with Darius Vassell opening the scoring for City before a Priskin equalizer, saw Watford's relegation from the Premier League confirmed.
So links with players between the two clubs? Of course Goalkeeper David James started his career at Watford before moving to City via Liverpool, Villa and West Ham. Another City goalkeeper Tony Coton is another link. Signed by City from Watford the keepers reputation is somewhat tarnished. Not happy with being second choice to Eike Immel at City he decided to move to United to be third choice! He never played first team football for United and if fact only got onto the subs bench once and was moved on to Sunderland. Most recently Emmanuel Adebayor, who is available on a free after having his contract terminated by Spurs, has been linked with the Hornets. Spending three seasons on the books at City the former Togo International has become somewhat of an outcast with the football world and am not sure he would do much for the morale in the dressing room at Vicarage Road.
Both sides have also had ex England Managers take control of their side. City had Keegan and Sven-Goran Eriksson both take control of City as their next management job after the National one. For Watford it was a return of their old Manager as Graham Taylor had a club cushion both before and after the England job.