Homegrown Hornet Adrian Mariappa has spoken about needing to play a “flawless game” against reigning-champions Manchester City this evening.
The Golden Boys have beaten the previous two incumbents - Leicester City and Chelsea - at The Vic in the last two campaigns, and while Mariappa is under no illusions of the threat the Citizens offer, the defender is still backing Watford to be a threat on the counter.
In an interview with Premier League Productions, the Watford Academy product said he knows the whole team will have to be at their best to take any points away from this game.
“They are the biggest test in the league and obviously we are really going to have to be at it and make sure we come with everything we’ve got to get anything out of that game,” said Mariappa.
“They’ve got world-class players and a world-class manager as well who knows how to get the best out of those players and when you’re playing against the top teams – their movement, their skill, their pace at which they play.”
Mariappa has yet to taste victory against the Sky Blues in the Premier League - he's played five and lost five, with one of those defeats coming in Watford colours - and that may be behind his belief about needing to be at your absolute peak level to keep them out.
“If you make mistakes they punish you – that’s the toughest thing when you’re playing against them,” said the defender. “You almost have to have a flawless game, because if you make mistakes they punish you.”
It could be assumed that the pressure will largely fall on the Hornets’ backline, but Mariappa thinks it will take a huge team effort to keep the visitors at bay.
“It’s something that you work on as a team through the week because no one individual is going to stop the whole team – it takes all 11 players on the pitch,” said the centre-back. “We have to make sure that defensively we’re in a good structure, and our distances are right between each other because their rotation, their movement, is of a very high quality and we need to be ready for it.”
That said, Watford have the pace and power going forward to cause any team problems in defence, and Mariappa thinks the Hornets can score against anyone.
“You end up playing on the counter most of the time against the top teams – especially City,” he said. “But, we’re dangerous on the counter-attack - we’ve shown that this season. I’m confident we can score against any team in the league, and that bodes well for us.”