x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Football round-up: City game ‘a gift’ for Watford

In other news, Michael Essien moves to AC Milan and Michael Carrick is out injured.

Manchester City have been in excellent form and it will take a great performance for Watford to beat them in the FA Cup. Jamie McDonald / Getty Images
Manchester City have been in excellent form and it will take a great performance for Watford to beat them in the FA Cup. Jamie McDonald / Getty Images

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes but a trip to face the Manchester City goal machine at their Etihad Stadium fortress would probably not be on the wish list of most managers.

Unless, that is, you are Watford’s Beppe Sannino who takes his Championship side into the lion’s den for an FA Cup fourth-round match on Saturday.

City completed a 9-0 aggregate demolition of the Premier League side West Ham in the League Cup semi-final this week and few would back Watford stemming City’s goal flow, which has already passed the 100-mark this season.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have 106 goals in all competitions and 15 in their past three home games and will field a strong line-up against Watford as they continue their trophy hunt on four fronts.

Sannino, however, is not afraid.

“This game should be a gift for my players, I know we played there last season but I still believe it is a gift,” Sannino told Watford’s website.

“We don’t want a game where we watch them and don’t do anything. We want to create some problems even though they are where they are in the league. If we keep our composure and our shape during the game, we should have a good time. What does that mean? I don’t know, in this situation, whether that is to win, to draw or to lose but, to have a good time. We have to use our intelligence.”

Watford, who have former the Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia in goal, are 15th in the second-tier Championship and have spent no money on players this season, dealing mostly in free transfers.

City on the other hand spent nearly £60 million (Dh363.9m) on Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic and are one point behind leaders Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.

Pellegrini, however, said there was no chance of his side losing their focus.

“We try to continue to play our attacking style throughout the season,” he said.

Ankle injury could keep Carrick out for a month

Michael Carrick, the Manchester United midfielder, could to be out for up to a month with an ankle injury in a further blow to the troubled Premier League champions. Carrick turned his ankle in United’s League Cup penalty shoot-out loss to Sunderland on Wednesday after landing awkwardly on the strip of artificial turf that runs along their Old Trafford pitch.

The England midfielder was expected to be out for two weeks, but initial tests have shown the injury to be more serious, British media said. Carrick is likely to miss the club’s league clash with Arsenal on February 12 and is a doubt for their Champions League last-16 first leg tie against Olympiakos 13 days later.

His absence is a further blow to the embattled manager David Moyes, who is already without injured the strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. United are seventh in the Premier League, 14 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.

Essien signs up to play for Serie A giants AC Milan

Chelsea’s Ghanian midfielder Michael Essien has joined AC Milan. Essien, 31, arrives on a free transfer having signed an 18-month deal with the Italian giants placed 11th in Serie A, the Italian media reported. Essien is the first recruit of the new Milan coach Clarence Seedorf, and he could play in their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid next month.


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