Don’t say it too loud but Watford are on the verge of one of the biggest FA Cup upsets in recent memory as they lead high-flying Manchester City 2-0 at half-time at the Etihad.
Man City made a few changes but still fielded a starting XI which would terrify most Premier League defences as they looked to continue their record of averaging four goals a game at home.
Instead, Watford, who are currently 15th in the Championship and have won just two of their last 16 games in all competitions, lead City 2-0 thanks to goals from Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney – and deservedly so.
Injuries and facing one of the most difficult tasks in English football saw Beppe Sannino change the Hornets’ usual 3-5-2 formation, as he instead opted for a 3-4-2-1 line-up. Cristian Battocchio and Sean Murray were the only fully fit centre midfielders with first team experience and they started in the centre of the park. Daniel Pudil and Davide Faraoni were wing backs with Ikechi Anya and Forestieri playing behind Deeney up front.
Watford started superbly and had two glorious chances before they even took the lead.
Faraoni picked out the run of Anya on six minutes and the Scotland international beat Costel Pantilimon to lob the ball over the goalkeeper but was then clattered by the Man City shot-stopper.
The Hornets arguably should have gone ahead when they countered four-on-two but Forestieri’s through ball for Faraoni was over-hit and Pantilimon gathered.
Manchester City had several shot blocked and Joleon Lescott sent a shot over with the score 0-0 but when the Golden Boys took the lead on 21 minutes, you couldn’t argue it was against the run of play. There wasn’t much on when Faraoni passed to Deeney with the striker’s back to goal but his first-time, reverse pass released Forestieri and he slotted into the bottom corner.
It then became 2-0 on the half-hour mark when Anya set up Deeney and he finished well at the near post.
Man City went close when a quick free-kick released Sergio Aguero and Jonathan Bond saved at his near post but the visitors were good value for their lead at the break.
Manchester City line-up: Pantilimon; Richards, Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov; Navas, Rodwell, Toure, Lopes; Aguero, Dzeko.
Subs: Hart Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Clichy, Fernandinho, Jovetic.
Watford line-up: Bond; Faraoni, Doyley, Angella, Ekstrand, Pudil; Anya, Battocchio, Murray, Forestieri; Deeney.
Subs: Almunia, Hoban, O'Nien, Abdi, Fabbrini, Cassetti, Ranegie.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
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