Scintillating? Not really. Pretty? At times. Effective? Absolutely.
This result was exactly what the team needed after Leicester and before Arsenal. The performance and, more importantly, the clean sheet will do wonders for the players’ confidence and hopefully we can step up a gear at the weekend against the Gunners.
Here’s how I rated the boys on the night.
1 Claudio Bravo – 6/10
Stopped well from Capoue at his near post but did not have much else to do. Was good to see him communicating with De Bruyne as he set up his wall.
5 Pablo Zabaleta (C) – 7/10
Didn’t have much to do defensively which allowed him to get forward on a couple of occasions and he had the intelligence to find himself in a good spot to receive De Bruyne’s cross and score the opener. Was exposed later in the game as Success and Deeney got the better of him on occasion.
30 Nicolas Otamendi – 7/10
Good to see a real defender back on the pitch for City. Cleared the ball well, was good defensively in the air and I hope he can be as reliable against Arsenal. Needs to be stronger in the duels and not let attackers get goal-side of him.
11 Aleksandar Kolarov – 6/10
With Watford not pressing much till the later stages of the game, he got space to create passes and wasn’t caught out much. A central role is maybe better for him now that he doesn’t have the pace to track back from full back.
22 Gael Clichy – 6/10
Did his bit and showed his pace while chasing the ball down and keeping possession. Didn’t see too much of him, thankful for that.
8 Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10
Had to leave the pitch early due to an injury. Hopefully not a long term one as he was looking good in the holding midfield role, especially against Watford who were not providing much of an attacking threat.
42 Yaya Toure – 8/10
Started the game in a deeper role and I was happy to see him take responsibility and stay back well. Slotted in the middle of the centre backs when City where on the back foot and provided good presence defensively. Even got in some slide tackles showing his increased desire and is absolutely essential to the team right now. Fernando gave him the license to roam forward and his forays were menacing.
7 Raheem Sterling – 8/10
Boy have we missed him. Such a threat, especially on the counter, his pace, strength, presence of mind are excellent. A great run through the middle hit the crossbar unluckily. The ability to draw defenders to himself before beating them or finding a pass like he did for Silva’s goal reminds me of Lionel Messi.
17 Kevin De Bruyne – 8/10
Grabbed his 8th assist of the league this season by taking all of Watford’s defenders out of the game and finding Zaba at the near post for the opener. His vision and passing are unparalleled and with Aguero out of the team, he is undoubtedly the star and the key man. Best influence on the game is from the left cutting into the middle.
21 David Silva – 8/10
Good finish for the goal and never stopped running or pulling strings in the midfield. Almost everything in the team goes through him and he needs to stay fit and fresh through this festive period.
9 Nolito – 6/10
Wasn’t as much of a threat as he’d have liked to be, not for the lack of trying. Did well as a false nine by running into the central space on occasion and sometimes getting wide to influence the play and give the attack some unpredictability. Still can’t match Aguero for a goal threat.
6 Fernando – 7/10
Did well to pass the ball around and win possession back. Nothing extraordinary but any player who does his job without committing mistakes is worth commending.
15 Jesus Navas – 5/10
Came on a late sub and predictably hit the first defender with his cross just after coming on. Tracked back well, but hardly a threat in attack.
19 Leroy Sané – Came on too late to mark
Late run almost influenced a goal.
Written by Manan Monga
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