Manchester City pulled it out of the bag late on at Vicarage Road to avoid a major blow in the title race and close the gap on Arsenal to three points.
The visitors fell behind to an Aleksandar Kolarov own goal, and though they enjoyed swathes of possession, struggled to break down a stubborn Watford until two moments of magic at the very end.
It was only the third time the fantastic four of David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero have played together, and that certainly showed. The attacking elements are not yet in full flow and the defence remains dodgy at best. Not a great mix.
Still, they won without playing and that is a sign of a great team.
On the other hand, Watford will be disappointed with the manner in which they lost the game, though have nothing to be scared of heading into the second half of the season.
They were today undone by simply world class players producing two moments of brilliance and little else. The Hornets will be encouraged by the dominance of Ben Watson and Etienne Capoue, while the interplay of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo was once again marvellous to watch.
So, what else did we learn? Here are FOUR things Manchester City’s win over Watford taught us.
While many will view scraping a 2-1 win at a newly promoted side as not good enough for a title chasing team, we must take into context the nature of this season. Watford have been fantastic this season and recently wiped the floor with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
As previously mentioned, it is only the third time Manuel Pellegrini has been able to field his fantastic four attackers at once, and they are clearly still working out a system. Once they do that, and surely talents of that ilk will, the Chilean tactician will have a formidable team on his hands.
Whereas right now they are relying on moments of individual brilliance, once a game plan comes into place, they could be one of the most well-oiled machines in European football.
Oh, there’s also the small matter of skipper Vincent Kompany to fully return, something which transforms the club’s backline.
Though he contributed somewhat towards the end with a corner kick to tee up Yaya Toure, and prevented Odion Ighalo racing through on goal late on, it’s clear Aleksandar Kolarov is not good enough for Man City.
The 30-year old is a fine attacker with a rasping left foot, he does have his uses going forward no doubt.
However, the Serb is anything but solid when defending his own goal. In fact, he’s an absolute liability and only marginally better than second choice Gael Clichy.
Neither of the two can surely be the first choice going forward. For a club with almost Napoleon levels of all conquering ambition, they simply cannot afford the defensive lapses either often suffer.
Surely a bid for Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez is worth whatever the German club charge, the Swiss star would be an unquestionable upgrade.
Sergio Aguero has a habit of scoring late goals of vital importance (anybody remember 2012?) and he did it once again this evening. Not the most physically imposing of strikers, the Argentine rose in the Watford penalty area to get his head onto a Jesus Navas cross and left Heurelho Gomes helpless.
Although the manner in which the ball arced into the net was impressive, what was even more notable is that Aguero performed this act in the last 10 minutes despite question marks about his fitness. The Citizens have really missed their talismanic forward this season amid consistent injury set-backs, and if he can score important, match-winning goals like this while at around 70%-80% fitness, Arsenal have a serious title contender breathing down the neck!
As Aguero’s header glided into the net it cemented two late, late losses for Watford from two matches in which they’d played very well – last time out Spurs secured a dramatic victory through Heung-min Son. Pretty deflating then, right? What’s worse than playing well and still losing? Well, playing badly and losing, obviously… and that’s not something one can accuse Watford of doing of late.
The season started rather slowly for the Hornets, but the past month has been a whirlwind powered by the goals of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, in which Chelsea were almost beaten and Liverpool were thumped at Vicarage Road. There’s a long way to go, and in this crazy season the Hertfordshire outfit could be book a Europa League spot for 2016/17 as long as they keep it together and bounce back.