Premier League 2019/20, Manchester City 8-0 Watford: 5 Talking Points
Bernardo Silva netted his first career hat-trick as Manchester City celebrated their 125th anniversary with a record-breaking 8-0 Premier League home victory against a woeful Watford display on Saturday lunchtime.
Pep Guardiola was expecting a spirited response from his players after their humbling 3-2 defeat by newly-promoted Norwich last weekend, but even the Spaniard could not have foreseen what transpired in the opening 20 minutes here. The Cityzens raced into a dominant five-goal lead after 18 minutes, with five different scorers against a stunned Hornets backline who were being run ragged.
David Silva broke the deadlock after just 52 seconds, following a brilliant Kevin de Bruyne pass which found him unmarked in the area. That was just the tip of the iceberg. Five minutes later, Riyad Mahrez won a penalty after being needlessly fouled by the onrushing Ben Foster. Sergio Aguero duly stepped up and made no mistake, netting his 100th home Premier League goal - which surprisingly proved his only strike of this demolition job.
Mahrez wheeled away to celebrate his first league goal of the season minutes later, as his deflected free-kick ricocheted off Tom Cleverley's face and swerved into the bottom corner.
Watford were defensively erratic and ruthlessly punished again, this time from a corner with Bernardo Silva the beneficiary after Nicolas Otamendi's headed flick-on set up a chance he couldn't miss.
After a forgettable display last weekend, Otamendi swiftly turned goalscorer after a quick free-kick routine caught Watford's retreating backline unaware. Aguero fired the ball low and across goal, with his compatriot gifted an easy tap-in.
Aguero hit the post twice, de Bruyne was an ever-present threat while Bernardo Silva too missed a good chance. He would soon atone for that.
The Portugal international applied the finishing touch after intricate work alongside Silva, jinking through the box exposed Watford's woeful defending as they failed to clear their lines in the build-up.
Then, he completed his hat-trick with a scruffy finish but one set on a plate for him by de Bruyne, unleashing another brilliant pass across the box. 7-0.
You could hardly blame De Bruyne for wanting one himself after watching countless opportunities go to waste as City continued overwhelming their visitors, but the game's best goal was left to last.
He unleashed a strike which flew beyond the helpless Foster, an effort with no backlift and equally no chance of stopping the finish either. He could have equalled the Premier League record (Manchester United 9-0 Ipswich, 1995) late on, but dragged his eventual effort wide after a slaloming run into the box went unrewarded.
The result sees City return to second place (13 points after six matches). They are two behind closest rivals Liverpool who travel to west London with Chelsea on Sunday. So, here's a look at five talking points from a game that will live long in history for years to come:
#5 Watford horrifically exposed in club's worst-ever defeat
In recent seasons, this City side has displayed their capability to blitz opposing teams apart on the counter-attack and simply overwhelm them into a heavy defeat. On this occasion, it was no different - though Watford essentially relented quicker than any other side had previously done.
The fact they were 5-0 down before 20 minutes speaks volumes, though it was a combination of horrendous defending and ruthless City taking advantage that ultimately proved pivotal.
So much so that The Sky Blues continued in their search for more goals and probably would've been disappointed to only record five at half-time, rather than seven or eight. They simply dismantled a dishevelled backline who were overrun and embarrassed in transition.
Perhaps the most worrying thing was how easily they were conceding these strikes, whether that be shots on target or gifting a team of City's calibre more opportunities to score than is generally accepted - even away from home - against the defending champions. Before ten minutes were up, any semblance of a gameplan had already gone out the window.
Giving their hosts ample time and space in possession proved costly, as evidenced by all of City's first five goals (excluding number three, a fortunate free-kick). Watford were already playing damage limitation and chasing shadows, which is far from ideal against a team as unforgiving as Pep's sides can be.