First Team 02/01/2018

Cleverley On Gray | “He Brings Us Another Dimension”

After notching his third goal of the season during tonight’s 3-1 defeat at table-topping Manchester City, Tom Cleverley moved to praise Andre Gray’s all-round contribution to the Hornets’ cause.

Speaking to watfordfc.com after full-time, the midfielder said: “He [Andre] brings us another dimension. His runs in behind are something that go quite unnoticed and I think he's really clever where he makes his runs.

“I'm really pleased he got his goal tonight and I think with just a bit of confidence, which I'm sure will come, he’ll score plenty more goals like he always has done in the past.”

Gray twice got beyond City’s defence during the opening 45 minutes, both times using his pace to good effect before drawing saves from Ederson.

The ex-Burnley front-man then hit the target from close-range during the final 10 minutes, and Cleverley is backing his teammate to build on tonight’s positive showing.

“We’re always a threat when we've got Andre on the pitch. One of the first chances was a great save from the keeper and the one in the second-half he has put away, so hopefully he can really press on from now,” said Cleverley.

“He works hard in training and there's no-one that wants him to do well more than us, because he is a really good guy to have around.

“As players you give that extra 10 per cent when you are in a run of form like we are. We are all working hard day in, day out, to put things right, and Andre is no different to every member of the squad.”

Cleverley was introduced in place of Watson just after the hour-mark

After a disappointing start to proceedings at the Etihad Stadium, Cleverley felt Watford grew into the game, even if the damage had, ultimately, already been done.

“I thought we were more confident on the ball near the end,” he said.

“I know they maybe took their foot off the gas a little bit and made a few changes, but we ended strong and we are always a threat in the games we play.”

02/01/2018

Match Report | Man City 3-1 Watford

On a night where neither team were anywhere close to their best, it was the match-winning quality of Manchester City that earned the champions elect a 3-1 Premier League victory over Watford at the Etihad Stadium. 

A goal inside the first minute from Raheem Sterling, and a Kevin De Bruyne forced own goal from Christian Kabasele before the quarter hour primed Marco Silva's men for a long old evening.

Andre Gray found City 'keeper Ederson a brick wall in the home goal, twice being thwarted by the big Brazilian as the Hornets looked for a route back into the game. 

Sergio Aguero netted after half-time to secure the points, but Gray got the goal his performance warranted late on to chalk off Pep Guardiola's men's clean sheet.

Marco Silva opted for two changes to his starting line-up. Stefano Okaka missed out due to sickness and was replaced in attack by Gray, while Etienne Capoue came in for Tom Cleverley, who was “not in the best condition to start the match”, according to the Head Coach.

As if the size of the task wasn’t big enough already, the Hornets were trailing within just 38 seconds. Leroy Sane played a teasing ball across the box from the left-hand side and an unmarked Sterling had the simple task of slotting home from six yards.

Gray did get beyond the hosts’ backline during the early exchanges after a long pass forward from Marvin Zeegelaar. It was a difficult angle for the front-man, though, and Ederson smothered his shot.

City doubled their advantage in the 13th minute, although they did need a slice of fortune. Kabasele slid in to prevent De Bruyne’s cross from reaching the lurking Sergio Aguero, but in doing so sliced past Heurelho Gomes and into his own net.

Gomes twice denied Pep Guardiola’s men a third – first by diverting De Bruyne’s deflected free-kick onto the bar, and then in keeping out the follow-up header from Nicolas Otamendi.

The hosts were well in control, though it wasn’t all one-way traffic. Daryl Janmaat fizzed a low shot across goal and just wide, then a minute later Capoue found Gray in a promising position and the striker’s shot was turned behind by Ederson’s outstretched arm.

A two-goal deficit nearly became three shortly after the interval, Aguero stooping low to head De Bruyne’s cross wide of Gomes’ right-hand post.

It was 3-0 just after the hour though. Yet again, De Bruyne’s cross wreaked havoc in the Hornets’ area and Gomes was unable to hold onto it. Aguero reacted quickest to turn home the loose ball from just a few yards out.

The Hornets’ travelling supporters did have reason to cheer when Andre Carrillo got to the byline and saw his centre turned home by Gray, handing the visitors a late lifeline with nine minutes remaining.

Those of a Manchester City persuasion might have been sweating a little more had referee Lee Mason awarded a penalty when substitute Roberto Pereyra appeared to be knocked down in the box by Otamendi in the final minute, but it wasn’t given and after four minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew on a 3-1 defeat for the Hornets.

HORNETS | Gomes (GK) (C); Janmaat, Wagué, Kabasele, Zeegelaar; Doucouré, Watson (Cleverley, 61); Richarlison (Sinclair, 82), Capoue (Pereyra, 61), Carrillo; Gray.

Subs not used | Karnezis (GK), Prödl, Mariappa, Holebas.

CITY | Ederson (GK); Walker, Stones (Danilo, 67), Otamendi, Delph; Fernandinho (Toure, 71), De Bruyne (B Silva, 79); Sane, D Silva (C), Sterling; Aguero.

Subs not used | Bravo (GK), Gundogan, Mangala, Zinchenko.