Manchester City aim to fight off fatigue as title race heats up

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) – Manchester City hope today’s (Sunday 1.30am Brunei time) meeting with Watford can offer them the same sort of impetus their opponents provided for Premier League title rivals Liverpool.

City manager Pep Guardiola has seen his side hit a downturn in their attacking form in recent weeks despite overtaking Liverpool and returning to the top of the table.

The last three City games have seen them score just two goals, including a goalless League Cup final appearance against a Chelsea team they had defeated 6-0 just two weeks prior.

The run hardly represents a major concern, with City having won the cup final on penalties and their next two league games by 1-0 scorelines.

But as a general indicator of form, City’s previously prolific goalscoring feats – which had produced 50 goals in the opening 13 games of 2019 – have dried up alarmingly.

Watford, who were beaten 5-0 by a Liverpool team that had gone through a similarly barren spell immediately prior to their meeting, might be just the right opponents for City this weekend as they aim to maintain their one-point lead over Liverpool.

Yet Guardiola must also have been alarmed by a growing injury list which includes Kevin De Bruyne after last weekend’s victory at Bournemouth.

The Belgian midfielder suffered a hamstring injury early in the second half and City were economical with the facts surrounding the problem immediately after the game, other than Guardiola confirming he will be sidelined for a period of time.

De Bruyne’s absence will add to the mounting frustrations for the 27-year-old, who started 36 of City’s 38 league games last season.

De Bruyne will have played in just seven of City’s 30 league games this term if, as expected, he misses out against Watford.

Two knee injuries have taken their toll on De Bruyne this season although, even when he has enjoyed extended periods in the first team, he has appeared short of the form that made him one of the league’s most effective players last season.