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Manchester City at Watford: Predicted Lineups

Who starts for Blues and Hornets on Saturday?

Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

The Premier League is back after a week of European matches, and Manchester City have a very tricky visit to Watford FC on Saturday. The Blues are unbeaten in five matches this season, and Watford are yet to lose a league match and sit in fourth place.

If not for the major discrepancy in squad depth and investment, this would be a game the Blues weren’t obligated to win. But Watford have been very much a surprise in this young season, and with the form City find themselves win, they’re expected to win and win big. Which is why this is a tricky match, because Watford will definitely not lose big to the Blues.

This will be tough, and City will need to be at their best. Let’s take a look at how both teams are likely to line up on Saturday.


Pep Guardiola reverted back to a 4-3-3 formation against Feyenoord in midweek, but we should see the return of the 3-5-2 setup against Watford. The Hornets have pace and skill on their front line and like to use the wings to attack, so Pep will most likely defend with a back five. For that to happen without Vincent Kompany, the answer is Danilo, who played at center-back against Liverpool and was fantastic in that role.

The Brazilian has earned a call-up to his national team for the first time in a long time thanks to his excellent start to the season for City, and his versatility seems to be crucial to Pep’s lineup selections. If Danilo starts on Saturday with both Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy in the side, we’ll see the 3-5-2 again.

This seems to be a good formation for City and Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus seem to be working out how to play together up front, and given City won 5-0 against one of the top teams in the league using this formation, it makes sense to use it again this weekend.

Predicted XI (3-5-2):

Éderson; Danilo, Stones, Otamendi; Walker, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva, Mendy; Agüero, G.Jesus

Bitter and Blue XI (3-5-2):

Éderson; Danilo, Stones, Otamendi; Walker, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva, Mendy; Agüero, G.Jesus


Marco Silva has had an excellent start to the season thanks in most part to his midfield: Abdoulaye Doucouré, Nathaniel Chalobah and Tom Cleverley form a dynamic trio that can interchange positions and play well with and without the ball. This midfield three will not have much of the ball against the Blues, so their job on Saturday will be to press the City midfield, recover the ball and find the front three.

And the front three will be Watford’s biggest threat because of their pure pace: André Carrillo, Richarlison and Andre Gray can run for days and run with speed in behind any defense, and because City play with a high line when attacking the Hornets’ forwards will have the chance to get runs in behind and have a few scoring opportunities.

The problem for Watford is in the defense: with the three-game suspension for Miguel Britos and injuries to Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prödl, only Christian Kabasele and Adrian Mariappa will be available at the center-back position, and the two are not necessarily the best defenders at the club. With Agüero and Jesus up against them, Watford fans could have a nightmare.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1):

Gomes; Femenía, Mariappa, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucouré, Chalobah; Carrillo, Cleverley, Richarlison; Gray


Man City (3-5-2): Éderson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Agüero, G. Jesus

Watford (4-2-3-1): Gomes; Janmaat, Mariappa, Kabasele, Holebas; Chalobah, Doucouré; Carrillo, Cleverley, Richarlison; Gray