Watford fell just short against the league leaders after a valiant fightback late on at Vicarage Road.
However, the introduction of Gerard Deulofeu from the bench revitalised Watford, with the former Barcelona winger winning the ball high up the pitch to set up Doucoure for his goal – with the help of a couple of deflections.
Guardiola’s side weathered a late storm to hold on to the three points.
Here are five things we learned:
City’s strength in depth is frightening
If any other Premier League side had made six changes going into a game it would compromise their cohesion. With City, you barely even notice. Guardiola changed his centre-back pairing, a full back and a winger for the trip to Vicarage Road, but it’s clear the Spaniard’s philosophy is imprinted into the brain of every single player. Top scorer Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling were both absent, and Aymeric Laporte was rested despite his confident start to his first full season in England. It didn’t hamper City though, and served to prove just how talented a squad they have.
Bernardo Silva is just as important as David Silva
Identical frames and identical names, but it was Bernardo Silva who stood out tonight in City’s midfield. The Portuguese international was City’s creative fulcrum, and provided a real threat to Watford’s defensive block. His movement between centre midfield and wide areas caused the home side great difficulty when trying to keep their shape. With Kevin De Bruyne still injured, Bernardo Silva’s versatility has helped fill a big hole in the midfield. It is impossible to talk about the creativity of the champions without an honourable mention for Fernandinho, who once again provided the foundation for the two Silva’s to push forward.
Bernardo Silva in action for City (Getty Images)
Watford could be contenders for a Europa League place
It was a night of disappointment for the home side, but given the opposition they can be encouraged by the performance. The only thing lacking for Watford was composure going forward, something that will be helped when Andre Gray and Gerard Deulofeu are back in the starting 11. They conceded chances, but who doesn’t against Man City? Late on Gracia’s side put City under serious pressure in search of an equaliser, and will count themselves unlucky not to get a point. No one expected Watford to be within one victory of the European places, but Javi Gracia has enough talent in his squad to recover from their recent poor form and put up at least a valiant challenge.
Ben Foster has still got it
Watford weren’t bad defensively, but they still needed their number one to produce some stunning saves to keep the score line respectable. The highlight of Foster’s game was a triple save he made in the first half. The former England goalkeeper had to move off his line quickly and spread his body almost all at once. One or two eyebrows were raised when Foster made the move to Watford after he suffered relegation with West Brom last season, but the 35-year-old has performed consistently for the Hornets and assured fans he is the right man between the sticks.
Ben Foster put in a number of key saves for Watford (Getty Images)
Riyad Mahrez is not the benchwarmer many expected him to be
Spending £60 million on a substitute isn’t the most economical use of a transfer budget. Fortunately for Riyad Mahrez, whose goal decided the clash this evening, he has proved more useful than just a Plan B. He’s made 13 appearances this season, played 978 minutes and been directly involved in 11 goals. His transfer fee made him anything but a bargain, but the Algerian’s form is ensuring the cash didn’t go to waste.