Manchester City welcome Watford to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, knowing victory will cement their place at the top of the Premier League.
The blues topped the table last weekend, thanks to a 1-0 win at Bournemouth, while Liverpool were held to a goalless draw at neighbours Everton in the Merseyside derby. City will move four points clear at the top with victory over the Hornets for at least 24 hours, with Liverpool not facing Burnley at Anfield until Sunday.
This is a fixture the blues have won many times, but what do the stats say about this game?
Incredibly, the two teams have only met 16 times in Manchester, with Saturday’s meeting being just the 17th between the two since they first met in September 1982. That first match ended with a 1-0 victory for the blues, who have gone on to win 10 of the following 15 fixtures.
Watford have won on three occasions in Manchester, the most recent coming in April 1987 with City on the verge of relegation from the top flight. The Hornets one that match 2-1, and recorded their other two wins at Maine Road in 1986. Watford dumped the blues out of the FA Cup winning 3-1, then just a month later, won the league fixture 1-0.
The blues have won their last five home matches against Watford, and are unbeaten in their last ten matches at home to the Hornets, winning 9 and drawing 1. The only draw in that sequence came in December 2006, when Watford held the blues to a goalless draw.
City have scored 32 goals in those 16 matches, an average of two goals per game, and have kept seven clean sheets. By comparison, Watford have scored 13 goals in Manchester and have kept just two clean sheets at City in their history.
City’s biggest win in this fixture stands at 3-0, achieved on the opening day of the 2001-02 season and an FA Cup tie as recently as 2013, while their heaviest defeat also came in the FA Cup, 3-1. The two teams have only met each other twice in the league outside the top flight. The first was in November 1988 when City’s young, promotion-chasing team welcomed the newly relegated Hornets. Watford were top of the league prior to the match and were 1-0 up at half time. However, Paul Moulden deflected Andy Hinchcliffe’s free kick for the equaliser, before a brace by Wayne Biggins secured a 3-1 win. The other was the opening game of the 2001-02 season.
The two teams have met only once in March, but never on the 9th. The match in March 1987 ended in victory for the visitors.
Who will come out on top on Saturday? Will the blues stay where they are or will the Hornets put a sting in City’s title credentials?