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Classy City can cement Champions League spot at Watford

Guardiola's men will be motivated from the start

Manchester City will finish third with a win at Watford
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Premier League
Sky Sports 2, 3pm Sunday

There is a major advantage to finishing third rather than fourth in the Premier League and that should focus the minds of Manchester City for their trip to Watford.

A point would be enough for City to finish in the top four, while even a low-scoring defeat could do the trick, but a fourth-place finish only assures clubs of a place in the Champions League playoff, while third brings direct entry to the group stage.

Only a win makes absolutely certain of third spot for City if they want to avoid some dangerous draws in the playoff round. This season high-quality sides such as Monaco were lurking in the prelims and Pep Guardiola won't want that playing on his mind during a big summer of rebuilding.

Watford look absolutely ideal final-day opponents, even at Vicarage Road, and backing City to get the job done early is the best bet with the visitors understandably short odds to claim maximum points.

A first trophy blank will have hurt Guardiola's ego, and although privately he may have reason to believe he was unlucky he has fronted up to a campaign which has not lived up to pre-season expectations.

City have missed so many good opportunities in matches this season - Kevin De Bruyne's open goal when they were beating Chelsea 1-0 springs to mind - and been ruthlessly punished at the other end to leave Guardiola  scratching his head.

However, recently City's talented forwards have been more prolific in front of goal with ten goals scored in the last three matches and the potential for Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, De Bruyne, David Silva and Raheem Sterling to run riot next term is obvious.

Sterling may once again have to settle for a spot on the bench which only goes to highlight the quality Watford's weakened defence will be facing in their last match under reportedly unpopular coach Walter Mazzarri.

Four centre-backs have been ruled out and another two, Miguel Britos and Adrian Mariappa are struggling, along with striker Troy Deeney.

Watford showed some fight at Chelsea on Monday before losing 4-3 but the champions were in party mode and the loss still made it five straight defeats for Mazzarri's men.

Returning to Vicarage Road will cheer up the Hornets and they have won three of their last four on home soil but Sunderland, West Brom and Swansea are hardly in the same class as City.

Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool have all won in Herthfordshire with Watford's September success over Manchester United feeling like it was another lifetime ago.

If City get their noses in front this should be a long afternoon for the Hornets with Guardiola's team finding it easier to play their possession football when taking the lead.

City have won 14 domestic matches in 2017 and they were ahead at the break in 12 of them.

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Team news
Sebastian Prodl is suspended and fellow centre-backs Younes Kaboul, Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele are injured. There are also doubts over two other centre-backs - Miguel Britos and Adrian Mariappa - as well as top goalscorer Troy Deeney.

Manchester City
Fabian Delph, Ilkay Gundogan and Claudio Bravo are injured.

Key stat
Watford have conceded 30 goals in their 11 matches against the top six this season.

City have won 14 domestic matches in 2017 and they were ahead at the break in 12 of those
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