Watford-Manchester City Preview

The Associated Press

Manchester City might have bounced back from a stunning weekend defeat with a strong showing in the Champions League, but they still need to get back on track in the top-flight. A visit from struggling Watford could help.

City look to rebound from their first Premier League loss since January when they host the winless Hornets on Saturday at the Etihad.

In stunning fashion, City (3-1-1) saw their 18-game unbeaten run in the Premier League end with a 3-2 loss at promoted-side Norwich City last Saturday. Sergio Aguero scored just before half-time to bring the Citizens within a goal and Rodri Hernandez Cascante pulled one back in the 88th minute, but the visitors were unable to get closer and avoid the upset.

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The loss dropped Manchester City five points back of top-flight leader Liverpool, who are undefeated and looking like the clear-cut favorites to finally win the Premier League. Of course, City gaffer Pep Guardiola will never concede anything, and this defeat could light a fire for the club to re-gain their top-flight focus.

The Citizens stepped out of the league and looked like the elite side they are with a 3-0 victory at Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan each recorded a goal with an assist as City rebounded in strong form, though in the Champions League - another tournament where they are looking to prove their dominance.

"It was necessary to respond and respond well (to the Norwich defeat)," Gundogan told Manchester City's official website. "All of us, not just individually."

There's a good chance City are in store for a bounce-back within the Premier League as well. Not only are they returning home, where they've lost twice in the top-flight since December 2016, but welcome a Watford side that's 0-2-8 in this series within the Premier League era and still winless on the campaign.

The Hornets (0-2-3) have already sacked manager Javi Gracia and are once again counting on Quique Sanchez Flores to help them get out of the Premier League basement, or at least record that elusive first league win of 2019-20.

Watford, though, could be feeling good about themselves more than any other time this season after drawing their last two matches, most recently 2-2 at home versus Arsenal last weekend. Down 2-0 after 32 minutes, Tom Cleverly pulled one back in the 53rd and Roberto Pereyra equalized for the Hornets via penalty on 81 minutes.

"The win's going to come soon," keeper Ben Foster told Watford's official website.

Foster has also noticed an uptick in effort since Flores came on board, especially in the second-half with Arsenal.

"You could see the work rate, you could see the desire," he said. "I don't know what it is, I don't know if it's the change of manager or what."

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