Premier League: Super Sterling Stars as Champions Overcome Controversy
Manchester City 3-1 Watford
Raheem Sterling will rightly take the plaudits after this fixture.
His hat-trick won the Premier League encounter at the Etihad Stadium to ensure Manchester City maintained their advantage at the top of the table.
There was no doubt they deserved their advantage, either – a quick watch of the Premier League 2019 highlights will show that.
However, SBOBET followers will know this match changed on a decision which proved highly controversial.
Less than a minute of the second half had elapsed when a ball was knocked onto Sterling who was in an offside position as he finished with aplomb.
After much discussion between the linesman (who had flagged) and referee, the goal was given after Paul Tierney ruled Watford full-back Daryl Janmaat had knocked the ball onto Sterling before he shot.
Yet, surely Janmaat only made the challenge because Sterling was offside in the first place?
It’s only hoped that the introduction of VAR next season will ensure there can be no doubt about these decisions (not that I’m overly confident).
Highlights of the game
From the outset, Watford’s game plan was probably obvious and made total sense.
Expect to defend in numbers and, on the rare occasions they had the ball, counter-attack.
Boss Javi Garcia, managing his 50th game for the Hornets, kept the in-form skipper Troy Deeney (with five Premier League goals and three assists in nine games this calendar year) and Gerald Deulofeu on the bench as if to confirm those tactics.
For 45 minutes, it worked.
David Silva went close with an early header, while Sergio Aguero (with 10 goals in seven appearances against Watford) should have opened the scoring with a free header on the half-hour, but the plan did its job as the reigning champions came up against a sea of green.
Four minutes into the second half, and it was game over.
First, Sterling converted after Aguero had chested Ilkay Gundogan’s lofted ball into his path, and the goal was given after initially being disallowed for offside.
Watford players complain after Raheem Sterling's offside has been overruled during their Premier League clash against Manchester City
Then, with Watford seemingly stunned by the decision, City took full advantage.
This time, Silva and Riyad Mahrez combined for Sterling to have the most straightforward of finishes.
Just before the hour, Silva showed his class again with a pinpoint pass, and Sterling’s feet were too quick for his markers as he completed his hat-trick.
As shell-shocked and as hard done to as Watford must have felt, they deserved credit for keeping going and, with their first touches, subs Deeney and Deulofeu made an instant impact.
A long kick from Ben Foster was flicked on by Deeney, and the young Spaniard coolly reduced the arrears.
They never went close again, however, as City saw the game out to extend their lead to four points at the summit.
Job done – with a little bit of help from the referee.
Deulofeu’s goal, 17 seconds after coming on, was the quickest by a substitute in the Premier League since October 2014, when Sammy Ameobi scored after eight seconds for Newcastle versus Spurs.
City have never lost a Premier League game against Watford (won eight, drawn two), winning the last eight in a row by an aggregate score of 25-4.
In all competitions, Watford have lost their last 10 meetings with Manchester City and are winless in 14 since a 1-0 home victory in the second tier in March 1989.
The last Hornets boss to beat City away from home was the late Graham Taylor, who masterminded a 2-1 success in April 1987.
City have won 10 of their last 11 league games, including the past six in a row.
City have earned 45 of the 48 points available to them in home games this season, losing only against Crystal Palace in December.
Aguero has ended on the winning side in each of the last 25 league fixtures he has started at the Etihad Stadium, scoring 30 goals.
The Hornets have suffered 13 successive league defeats away to the established top-six teams since a 2-1 win at Arsenal in January 2017.
They have now also lost all 10 of their Premier League matches against sides starting the day top, conceding 29 goals.Top of Form
The Premier League 2019 betting odds may change a few times between now and when City are next in league action.
It’s three weeks until they meet Fulham.
This week, they entertain Schalke with a 3-2 first-leg advantage in the Champions League. Next weekend, they travel to Swansea City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Watford also have a FA Cup last-eight tie to contend with.
They host Crystal Palace a week today (March 16) before travelling to Manchester United on March 30 in the Premier League.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.
Follow us on social Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
This message was edited by SBOBET on 12-Mar-2019 at 2:14 PM