Leading up to the challenging contest, Watford lost a 4-3 heartbreaker at home against Charlton, squandering two leads throughout the match.
Having won four of its last five matches, Manchester City will enter Saturday with a bit more momentum. But after topping Manchester United for the championship last season, Manchester City now trails its foe by seven points in the EPL standings.
Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
When: Saturday, Jan. 5 at 10 a.m. ET
What's at Stake:
Both squads are vying to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup, which takes place during the final week of January.
The advancing squad would still have a long way to go in a tournament that runs through May and spans six rounds before even arriving at the semifinals.
Watford barely cracked the top six to fight for an EPL promotion, so they can't afford too many slip-ups along the way.
What They're Saying:
Manchester City will head into Saturday's matchup without Sergio Agüero, who has netted seven league goals this season.
While the explosive striker will certainly miss this game with an injured hamstring, the team is more concerned with his status down the road, including a pivotal bout with Arsenal on Jan. 12.
It’s difficult to assess an injury like that for how long it’s going to be. On Saturday, he will be out. He’ll be doubtful for Arsenal. It’s a hamstring. There are different degrees of hamstring, that’s why you need the 48 hours. We’ll just have to see.
Marco Cassetti has led his squad to success over Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, so Watford's leader is not backing down against the formidable opponent. Instead, according to the London Evening Standard, he is welcoming the challenge to test his youthful players: "We have an opportunity to play against a great club with great players. Because we have a lot of younger players, it’s good experience for them."
Manchester City Player to Watch: Mario Balotelli
Agüero's absence could open the door for Mario Balotelli, who has been sidelined lately with a virus. The Italian striker could return just in time to replace Agüero against Watford.
After scoring 13 goals in 2011, the 22-year-old has struggled to match that production this season. In 13 games, Balotelli has only tallied one goal.
Somebody will need to fill the void left by Agüero's departure, so Balotelli is a prime candidate to step up and keep Manchester City from falling astray without its star striker.
Watford Player to Watch: Troy Deeney
For Watford to stand a chance at pulling off an upset, forward Troy Deeney will need to log some valuable contributions for his club.
The 24-year-old has notched 10 goals and three assists in league play this season, good for second most on the team behind Matěj Vydra.
Agüero's injury should not even the playing field enough to cause an upset.
Edin Džeko and Carlos Tévez can help ease the loss of Agüero for an organization that nets 1.95 goals a contest.
Even during somewhat of a down season, Manchester City is still an elite squad that should convincingly secure a victory against Watford this Saturday.
Manchester City 2, Watford 0
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