With his team leading 5-0 after 18 minutes and threatening Premier League scoring records, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola sat with his arms folded in his dugout and might even have looked a little guilty.
Whether it’s in the FA Cup final or just a run-of-the mill league game, Watford just does not know how to handle the most free-scoring team in England.
City ended up romping to an 8-0 win on Saturday, falling just short of the heaviest margin of victory in the Premier League era (since 1992) — Manchester United’s 9-0 win over Ipswich in 1995.
It came four months after City beat Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium to complete an unprecedented domestic treble last season. The previous season, Guardiola’s team won 6-0 at Watford’s Vicarage Road.
“If you let five in in 20 minutes, you fear the worst. You think cricket scores,” Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster said after the club’s heaviest league loss in its 138-year history. “They are without doubt the best team I have ever played against. We were poor, didn’t lay a glove on them but at times it was breathtaking watching them.”
Bernardo Silva scored his first professional hat trick and there were also goals for David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin De Bruyne at Etihad Stadium.
Disappointingly for City’s fans or those hoping to see records tumble, City only scored once in the final half-hour of an embarrassingly one-sided match. It was the best goal of the match, though — a powerful drive from De Bruyne into the roof of the net.
In the final minutes, City’s fans urged their team forward, even roaring “Shoot!” when goalkeeper Ederson had the ball.
“What I like the most is normally when it’s 5-0 at halftime, the second half is not serious, it’s boring,” Guardiola said. “But we did the opposite and we were more aggressive and made a very good second half.”
It was the perfect reaction from the champions to last weekend’s surprising 3-2 loss at Norwich, the first defeat of their title defense which had left them five points behind Liverpool.
Consider this a warning to Liverpool, which visits Chelsea on Sunday.
Tottenham was on the good side of a tight VAR call in a 2-2 draw at Man City this season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team was on the receiving end of one in a 2-1 loss against Leicester on Saturday.
Tottenham was ahead courtesy of a first-half strike by Harry Kane when Serge Aurier drove a deflected shot into the bottom corner, seemingly giving the visitors a 2-0 lead at King Power stadium.
However, after a lengthy stoppage as the video assistant referee took a forensic look at whether Son Heung-min was offside by millimeters in the buildup, the goal was ruled out.
In Leicester’s next attack, Ricardo Pereira scored with a deflected finish to make it 1-1 in the 69th minute and James Maddison completed Leicester’s comeback by scoring from outside the area in the 85th.
“It’s what happens with VAR — you have to get your head round it,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said.
Leicester moved up to third place, two points behind Man City.
While Man City was bouncing back from a shock loss, the team that inflicted it slumped to a miserable defeat of its own a week on.
Norwich conceded two goals in the first half to striker Chris Wood and lost 2-0 at Burnley
“We always knew this would be tougher than Manchester City,” Norwich defender Ben Godfrey said. “Burnley are tough to play against.”
BLADES CUT DOWN EVERTON
One shot on target. Two goals. Three points for Sheffield United.
They were the galling statistics Everton was staring at following a 2-0 loss at Goodison Park to a promoted club which hasn’t lost away since mid-January.
“It was just a ridiculous game,” Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said. “That’s possibly the worst we’ve played all season.”
Everton had a supposedly benign run of fixtures to start the season but has only come away with seven points from six games, with City visiting next week. Sheffield United has one point more.
Andy Carroll came on for his first appearance for Newcastle in nearly nine years but couldn’t inspire the team to victory in a 0-0 home draw against Brighton.
The 30-year-old striker, who rejoined Newcastle in August after spells with Liverpool and West Ham, entered to a huge ovation in the 82nd minute and made his presence felt in a bustling cameo performance at St. James’ Park. He had not played since February because of an ankle injury that required an operation.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80