Well…what on earth is going on at Watford!? The Hornets will take on last season's Premier League Champions at Vicarage Road this evening as they continue to battle for their place in the league next season. But before we go anywhere else – there is only one place where we can start.
On Sunday afternoon – Watford manager Nigel Pearson departed the club along with his assistant – Craig Shakespeare. Pearson was fired…when he came into the club Watford were a million miles away from safety, and with two games remaining they’re three points clear of the drop. I’m not sure that there is a football fan in the country that saw this decision coming, at least the timing of it. The Watford board are historically trigger happy, but this was out of nowhere. Okay, so Watford did lose a crucial game in their fight for survival against fellow strugglers West Ham United, but before that the Hornets had won against Newcastle United and Norwich City. Back to back wins. They hold the aces.
Survival is in their hands and even if they were to lose to both Manchester City and Arsenal in their remaining games, which on paper does look likely…it’s such a difficult ask for Bournemouth and Aston Villa to overtake them in the table. Should Watford stay in the Premier League, Pearson is sure to get the credit. He transformed them. The third manager to take charge of the club this season, well fourth if you include caretaker Hayden Mullins – it seemed as though he was a popular appointment, both internally and externally. (Remember when he masterminded Leicester City’s great escape?)Maybe it was to be expected, when you look at the number of managers the Watford hierarchy have dismissed since they confirmed their promotion to the Premier League in 2015, they’ve seen five managers come and go – and Quique Sanchez Flores has been hired and fired twice in that time!
Rant over, if you can call that a rant, but it’s not something to brush over. Watford have two wins in their last five games and will want to do everything they can to take points off of Manchester City in their final home game of the season. The heat will be on, but it’s a lot cooler at Watford than it is at Bournemouth and Aston Villa.
As for Manchester City, they have nothing left to play for in the league as they are guaranteed to finish runners up to Liverpool. They also know that they’ll be playing in the Champions League next season after UEFA overturned their ban. Correct decision?
City manager Pep Guardiola will want a ruthless performance though as their last league game brought about an unconvincing 2-1 home victory against a struggling Bournemouth, and of course they lost 2-0 to Arsenal at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final. You really wouldn’t have bet serious money on that happening.
The reverse fixture saw City highlight just how troubled Watford were at the beginning of the season as they strolled to an 8-0 victory. Hayden Mullins is set to take charge as caretaker for the second time this season, as for a permanent replacement…your guess is as good as mine.
I can only see one team winning this one, and I think Watford are really up against it without the presence of Nigel Pearson.
Score Prediction: Watford 0 – 4 Manchester City
Match Preview written by Matt Davey