As far as statements of intent go, the one Manchester City delivered at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon was as strong as they come. Pep Guardiola’s side were sensational from start to finish, as previously undefeated Watford were blown away by six goals to nil in front of their own supporters.
Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick against the Hornets, with Gabriel Jesus, Nicolas Otamendi and Raheem Sterling responsible for the visitors’ other goals. City were at their scintillating best going forward, dominating possession and creating chance after chance against opponents who had no answer to their multiple and relentless waves of attack.
Question marks remain about the side’s defensive solidity – even in the recent 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool, City were vulnerable at the back prior to Sadio Mane’s red card towards the end of the first half – but Saturday’s encounter was evidence of how Guardiola intends for his team to keep the ball out of the net. City’s backline was rarely exposed due to the control exerted in midfield, with Watford finding it extremely difficult to win possession and move it forward into dangerous areas. Indeed, the hosts’ best opportunities came from set-pieces, but even then they were largely unable to make goalkeeper Ederson work – Marco Silva’s charges landed just a single shot on target all afternoon.
“I am delighted, so happy,” Guardiola told reporters in his post-match press conference on Saturday. “There are many things we are doing now that we didn’t do last season. Last season there was new enthusiasm with a new manager and new players and everybody expecting [great things].
“Now we are more stable, we know each other better. And the new players have come to help us be better. The fundamentals of what we do are the same but the difference is we have good balance, good players and good spirit.
“Day by day I say thank you to the club – to all the people involved for buying these players. All managers have their own good ideas of how to play, but without these players that we have right now, it is more complicated.
“[Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker] are having a big impact, Danilo too,” he continued. “They are young – Mendy is 23 and Kyle (27) is also young enough. They have huge energy to go up and it stretches our play and means we can have more players in the middle to do the short passes.
“I like our passes to be three, four, five or six metres, no more than that. It gives us continuity. We create spaces in behind and you need players in those positions. Without these signings it would have been more complicated.”
There is still an awfully long way to go in the race for the title, but City’s recent form looks ominous for the rest of the division.