Manchester City recorded their biggest ever Premier League win as they bounced back from defeat at Norwich by thumping Watford. Bernardo Silva helped himself to a hat-trick, while David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin de Bruyne all got their names in the scoresheet as the blues became the first Premier League team to score and concede eight goals in one match.
The blues attitude was called into question following the shock loss at Carrow Road, and they had already responded in midweek when they beat comfortably beat Shahktar Donetsk 3-0 in Ukraine, and it could have been more than three had the blues taken all their chances. The same could be said against Watford, and if City had continued scoring at the same rate as the first 18 minutes, City could have been well into double figures by full-time.
Indeed, if Mahrez and Aguero had taken further chances in the first half, City would now be holding the record of scoring the most goals by half time in a Premier League match, a record they already hold when they were 5-0 at Burnley in 2010. As it turns out, City’s five goals in eighteen minutes is now a record in itself.
The blues seem to live playing Watford and once again were quick off the mark, and their visiting supporters must have feared the worst when Kevin de Bruyne was allowed time to whip in an incredible free kick, which was met by the Spanish Silva to score with less than a minute on the clock.
Their fears were soon realised when the blues were awarded a penalty six minutes later when Aguero converted a penalty after Watford keeper Ben Foster needlessly brought down Mahrez, who was credited with City’s third goal with just 12 minutes on the clock. The Algerian’s free kick took a deflection off Tom Cleverley.
Portuguese Silva then got in on the act three minutes later, heading home the fourth on 15 minutes and Otamendi, the man who took the brunt of the blame for that defeat in Norwich, slid in at the far post to make it 5-0.
Watford were shell-shocked, but it could have been so different had Gerard Deulofeu taken advantage of slack defending from City with the score at 1-0. But, as often happens with teams low on confidence and struggling at the foot of the table, they offered little resistance to City’s attack. In fairness to Watford, there are not many teams that could have lived with pace and power City have in abundance, but the fact that City could afford to leave Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus on the bench and not have any need for their services throughout the entire match, shows exactly why the Hornets are struggling.
It could have been much worse for the visitors, had City taken more of their chances. Aguero in particular was guilty of a couple of misses, pulling his shot wide in the 15th minute and hitting the post two minutes later. De Bruyne Mahrez and both Silva’s also had opportunities to increase the lead and it’s fair to say the blues could have been seven or eight up by half time.
Manager Pep Guardiola replaced Benjamin Mendy at half time with summer signing Angelino as he resisted the urge to chase more goals by keeping Sterling and Jesus on the bench, and any chance of Watford attempting to mount a comeback was quickly quashed within minutes of the restart. Spanish Silva was the provider for his Portuguese namesake and Bernardo wriggled away to make it 6-0.
Bernardo then completed his first City hat-trick, meeting de Bruyne’s cross in the 60th minute. The scoreline was starting to resemble that of the Burton Albion match from last season, when the blues won 9-0, and with City continuing to press for more goals, double figures was not being ruled out. In fact, the last team to hit double figures in a league match was Manchester City, when in November 1987, they put ten past Malcolm McDonald’s Huddersfield Town.
With the game out of sight and City’s defence relatively untested, Guardiola decided to give some match time to Eric Garcia, who replaced Otamendi in the 63rd minute.
The Premier League’s record win has stood since 1995, when Manchester United beat Ipswich 9-0 at Old Trafford, and the blues had that record in their sights. And the would have taken a step closer to the record had Mahrez’s header hit the back of the net instead of the bar.
But the blues did move closer with five minutes remaining when de Bruyne got the goal he deserved, curling his shot into the top corner. And the Belgian assist king had a golden chance to equal the record, but with only Foster to beat, he pulled his shot wide.
It was the only record that eluded them on a day City bounced back in true style, sending an ominous warning to the rest of the league – write us off at your peril. Usually, after a team is humbled in the manner City were at Norwich, they go out and play like they have something to prove and City did that and more - the blues didn’t just put Watford to the sword, they used that sword to break them in half before cutting them into tiny pieces.
The Hornets will recover from the mauling and they will be thankful they don’t have play City every day, while the blues go to Everton next week, looking for another three points to keep touch with leaders Liverpool.
Final Score: Manchester City 8-0 Watford
Scorers: D Silva (1), Aguero (Pen 7), Mahrez (12), B Silva (15, 48, 60), Otamendi (18), de Bruyne (85)
Attendance: 54, 273