PREVIEW: City vs Watford

Manchester City vs Watford, Etihad Stadium, Saturday, 5 January, Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Tickets: Sold out.

Last Season: n/a

Referee: Philip Dowd. Assistant Referees Jake Collin & David Richardson. Fourth Official Jeremy Simpson

Team News:

CITY – Sergio Aguero is out with a hamstring injury, whilst Aleksandar Kolarov and Maicon both remain sidelined with knee injuries. Balotelli is available after his ‘virus’.

WATFORD – Defender Fitz Hall and ‘keeper Manuel Almunia are both doubtful due to hamstring injuries, and Almen Abdi (pelvic) could also miss out.

Stats:

City’s current run of four consecutive 3 o’clock kick off’s is the first time it has happened since April 2008.

Manchester City, the five times winners and four times runners-up, last lifted the trophy under Roberto Mancini in the season before last, but were third round losers for the fourth time in 10 years last season.

City were knocked out by Championship clubs in 2008 and 2009; Sheffield United (fourth round) and Nottingham Forest (third round) respectively.

The defending Premier League champions have won four of their last five league games to sit in second spot, seven points behind Manchester United, and 24 places superior to Watford.

Watford’s Matej Vydra has the best shot conversion rate of any player in the Championship this term (12 goals from 25 shots.

Since reaching the semi-finals in 2007, Watford have fallen at the third round hurdle just once.

The 1984 runners-up have been drawn away from home in the FA Cup for the first time since their third round loss to Chelsea three years ago.

Gianfranco Zola has two FA Cup winners’ medals with Chelsea and manages a club that’s lost on each of the last four occasions they have drawn Premier League clubs. The Hornets were in the top-flight themselves when they eliminated West Ham in the fourth round in 2007.

Stats courtesy of BBC Football & Opta City

Press Conference:

Roberto Mancini faced the press for the first time since picture emerged of a training ground scuffle between Mario Balotelli and himself, which you can read more about here. Mancini also spoke about his admiration for Gianfranco Zola:

I respected him (Zola) as a player when he played and now as a manager. I think he did a good job when he was at West Ham and now with Watford. He was a fantastic player, his quality was of top level. He did very well in Italy and very well in England with Chelsea.

Gianfranco Zola said:

Roberto was a pain in the butt to play against. He was so good, so talented and such an intelligent player. But I wanted to kick him a few times when we were opponents because we are both so competitive. And it’s no different as managers. I am proud of my team and would love to see them give the Premier League champions a good game.

Inside the Opposition:

We interviewed Michael Moruzzi, a Watford fan who runs Regista Blog, ahead of the game. You can see it here.

Read our Preview in Quotes – Watford

Fixtures:

Click here for all the FA Cup 3rd Round fixtures.

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