Man City v Watford Saturday March 9, 17:30 Live on BT Sport Extra
Guardiola pulling the strings to perfection
Manchester City are currently doing exactly what Liverpool are struggling to do. And by that we mean knowing how to win in different ways. Whereas Liverpool's gameplan seems to currently and bizarrely be to keep clean sheets and edge games 1-0, Man City are winning by using very different tactics, players and...scorelines.
They've won 16 of their last 17 across four different competitions - the 0-0 in the League Cup final against Chelsea (which they went on to win on penalties anyway) being the exception - and those wins have been made up of such scores as 5-0, 3-1, 4-1, 3-2, 2-0 and 1-0. Pep Guardiola is certainly earning his corn.
That said, it's not all rosy in the City camp. The brilliant Fernandinho and the impressive defender Aymeric Laporte are both out till the end of the month.
Watford enjoying life
It's been an excellent last month or so for the Hornets. Just when it seemed like they were running out of steam a bit, they secured three wins and a draw in the Premier League, losing only to Liverpool in that period. They were admittedly thrashed 5-0 there but so what? It certainly wasn't a game they would have been expecting anything from in the first place.
They also secured a place in the next round of the FA Cup after beating QPR 1-0 away.
The change in fortune has mostly come from Troy Deeney (more on him later) and Gerard Deulofeu enjoying a rich vein of form.
Hornets dreading this fixture
Making a case for anything other than a Man City win is hard work. Opta tell us they've never lost a game against Watford in the Premier League, won the last seven in the Premier League against them and that the Hornets have only lost more matches in a row to Manchester United (11, between 1987 and 2016) than the 10 they've lost to the Citizens. Add the 42 points from 45 at home that Guardiola's boys have secured this season and the nine wins from 10 in the league and you start to see why a quote of 1/7 isn't as ludicrous as it sounds.
Normally in these situations it's worth looking at whether there's a big gulf in pricesbetween the straight win and the win to nil, which in this case is 10/11. That's a real possibility with City having now kept four clean sheets in a row in the league. But the price isn't big enough.
Deeney could add to his tally at a tasty price
The problem with a team being so short is that all of their usual goalscorers are prohibitively short in price. There's Sergio Aguero at 1/3, Gabriel Jesus (who will probably start on the bench anyway) at 1/2 and even Raheem Sterling (4/5) and Leroy Sane (10/11) are odds-on. That's not much fun.
If you're desperate for a bet on a City player to score then you might consider Ilkay Gundogan. He's likely to get a game in Fernandinho's absence but loves a forward run.
This betting game is however all about value and with that in mind, it's hard to ignore the claims of Troy Deeney(below) at 4/1. We've talked about the improvement in City's defensive record but Watford have been scoring freely of late, grabbing seven in their last three matches in the league. The joint chief contributor has been Deeney himself, with two against Cardiff and one against Leicester. In fact, he's been 'on fire' since the turn of the year, scoring five and chipping in with a further three assists.
Only Sergio Aguero has been directly involved in more goals (10) in 2019. That's too big a price for a player in that sort of form, who's their main target man and penalty-taker so is worth a bet.
The other in-form Watford man, Deulofeu, who scored a hat-trick against Cardiff no less, is 9/2 to score.
Aguero brace as part of a same-game multi
We've mentioned Aguero's form in 2019 but what we haven't mentioned is how much he likes playing Watford. He's played them six times and scored 10 goals, including two hat-tricks. This may just be the match where he returns to his best after scoring two hat-tricks in the space of a week in early February so the 8/5 he scores at least two is worth chancing.
As is Man City scoring at least three goals at 4/7. Watford have been getting good results of late but that 5-0 spanking away at Liverpool is a reminder they can be vulnerable away from home against the very best. City haven't been scoring that many of late but have certainly been creating enough chances so this might be the game they start to go big again. The double comes to 3.71.
1pt Back Troy Deeney to score @ 4/1
1pt Back Sergio Aguero to score two or more (8/5) + Man City to score over 2.5 goals (4/7) @ 3.71