Manchester City brushed Watford aside as Pep Guardiola’s men swept to the top of the Premier League table with a 3-1 win at Vicarage Road.
A fourth minute goal by Raheem Sterling was added to by a brace from Bernardo Silva as City replaced Liverpool at the division’s summit.
The blues went into the match unbeaten in 18 matches against Watford in all competitions, a run stretching back to 1989, with the blues winning the last 13 in all competitions. And with Chelsea losing earlier in the day to West Ham, and Liverpool’s narrow 1-0 victory at Wolves, the opportunity to lead the table was the incentive behind the blues latest away win.
The blues were also aiming to beat manager Claudio Ranieri for the first time in 9 attempts, and it took just four minutes for City to begin laying that particular ghost to rest. Phil Foden’s cross from the left found Sterling completely alone at the far post. The England winger headed the ball into the ground before bouncing into the goal to give City an already deserved lead.
It was Sterling’s 99th Premier League goal and it marks his continued return to form in a City shirt. The winger had gone 12 matches without a goal for the blues and has been subject to continued speculation about his future and his relationship with Guardiola.
But the winger has repaid the manager’s faith in restoring him to the starting line-up with four goals and an assist from 7 matches as City won their Champions League group and surged to the top of the Premier League table.
Such was the blues dominance on Saturday that Jack Grealish, returning to the first team after a bout on the sidelines, could easily have had a hat-trick long before Silva scored his first of the afternoon on 31 minutes.
The Portuguese star has been in a rich scoring vein this season and loves a goal against Watford, having bagged himself a treble the last time these two met at the Etihad Stadium in 2019. He just settled for the two this time around, but they were another pair of strikes that oozed class and quality.
City swept forward on another lightning break, and it looked for the world that Silva’s ball through to Ilkay Gundogan would end in a goal for the German. The keeper made a good block, but Watford failed to clear, and Silva whipped the ball off the toes of the defender then beat the keeper from the tightest of angles to put City 2-0 up.
The midfielder has been a revelation this season, following a summer of uncertainty when it was rumoured he would become a makeweight in order for England striker Harry Kane to make the move north. It was reported that Silva was unhappy about the prospect of playing in a Spurs shirt and has since stepped up his game to become City’s most valuable player at the moment.
And Silva confirmed his status with a third goal in the 63rd minute which ended the match as a contest with another classy finish to rival his strike at Aston Villa in midweek. Collecting the ball from Joao Cancelo on the right, Silva cut inside, before curling a stunning strike beyond the reach of the keeper and into the top corner.
City keeper Ederson was again looking for his 100th clean sheet and it was looking like he would get his wish until the 74th minute when he was beaten. Cucho Hernandez was allowed a bit of space inside the area, and when his shot came back off the post, Hernandez reacted fast to stick out a leg and divert the ball home off the keeper.
But the blues wouldn’t be denied and kept any chance of a Watford resurgence at bay to claim another three points and lead the table for the first time this season.
Final score: Watford 1-3 Manchester City