Bernardo Silva claimed his tweet to Manchester City team-mate Benjamin Mendy that prompted accusations of racism was "a joke" as he bemoaned the response it received on social media.

The Portugal international tweeted a photo of Mendy as a child alongside a dated image from Spanish confectionary 'Conguitos' that has been condemned for its racist connotations, with the caption: "Guess who?"

Mendy did not appear to take offence, replying with laughing emojis and a message saying: "1-0 for you will see", but responses from members of the public were quick to point out the racist implications of Bernardo Silva's post.

The tweet came less than 24 hours after Bernardo Silva scored a hat-trick in City's 8-0 victory over Watford, which saw Mendy make his first Premier League start since April.

Bernardo Silva deleted it before commenting: "Can't even joke with a friend these days…You guys…"

The controversy comes during a week that representatives from the Premier League, the EFL and the FA met with Twitter to discuss the racist abuse that players including Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Yakou Meite suffered in recent months.

Jurgen Klopp dismissed Pep Guardiola's suggestion that Liverpool have already wrapped up the Premier League title.

Klopp's Liverpool have won their opening five matches to be two points clear of reigning champions Manchester City atop the table heading into Sunday's trip to Chelsea.

City manager Guardiola declared, "Congratulations Liverpool, you are the champions" following last week's shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich City, which allowed the Reds to move five points clear prior to the titleholders' 8-0 humiliation of Watford on Saturday.

Liverpool boss Klopp – whose side finished just one point adrift of City last season – responded to Guardiola's comment and said: "It hasn't been won already.

"This season won't be like last season. We have seen that already, with every team making big steps.

"There is not [a] team in the league who I think will go down with hardly any points. You've got Watford who were at the bottom with two points but, ­performance-wise, they could ­already have had five, six or seven points.

"Wolves are also struggling a bit – but will end up going back up – so we have ­already seen that the league is different this season.

"I think that's why Pep ­responded like he did with a joke because ­nothing has happened so far.

"We've had just five games and so many things can still happen. You simply cannot think that far ahead.

"We have enough to do just ­thinking about the next game, then the next game and the next game."

While Liverpool agonisingly missed out on the Premier League title last term, the Reds have continued to establish themselves as one of Europe's elite under Klopp.

Liverpool won the 2018-19 Champions League trophy after defeating Tottenham in June – a particularly satisfying achievement for former Borussia Dortmund boss Klopp, who had lost his previous six finals.

"It's nice for me to tick that box," Klopp told Sky Sports. "Some people said I was a nearly-man. I didn't feel like that - the finals I've reached shows something was okay - but it's nice. I don't have to worry about it anymore."

Manchester City's flying start in their 8-0 demolition of Watford was "weird" and "not normal", according to Pep Guardiola.

The City boss watched his side career into a 5-0 lead inside 18 minutes – the quickest such an advantage has been established in Premier League history – courtesy of goals from David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Nicolas Otamendi.

Bernardo Silva went on to complete a hat-trick after half-time and Kevin De Bruyne, who orchestrated so much of the champions' best work, completed the scoring to give City their biggest ever top-flight win on the weekend the club celebrated their 125th anniversary.

Guardiola reflected on a very different outcome to last weekend's 3-2 loss at Norwich City, but acknowledged two early chances that fell to Watford forward Gerard Deulofeu could have altered the complexion of the contest.

"It is weird, it is not normal," Guardiola said. "Five shots, five goals. In the same time, we gave them two chances to score.

"The quality we have is a joy to watch. After 5-0 the game is completely different. We were ruthless in terms of five shots, five goals.

"Sometimes you shoot 15 times or 20 and can’t do it. It was a lovely day for all of us, for our City fans in the sunshine and a lot of goals."

Guardiola was impressed by the continued application of his players throughout the contest and rejected the suggestion City trying to score goals throughout showed a lack of respect to beleaguered opponents, who they hammered 6-0 in last season's FA Cup final.

"The best way to humiliate the players is to do stupid things in the second half, make some fashion movements [showboating]," he said.

"We play for the spectators, who come here to watch the game. I would not like to see my team in the second half not run much because we are winning 5-0.

"That is a lack of respect for our opponents."

Benjamin Mendy was withdrawn at half-time on his first start since April, but Guardiola reported no adverse reaction for the France left-back, who has endured a lengthy battle back to fitness following a second bout of knee surgery in as many years.

"He is well. After two years without playing, 45 minutes was enough," Guardiola said.

"Angelino [who made his Premier League debut as Mendy's replacement] is incredible. He deserves to play after 5-0. I am glad. I saw many good things."

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores says his side are scared to play Manchester City after a bruising 8-0 defeat to the Premier League champions on Saturday.

The Hornets suffered their record league defeat at the Etihad Stadium to continue their torrid recent form against Pep Guardiola's side.

City have now won the last 12 meetings between the sides in all competitions, scoring a whopping 46 goals in that run.

They were thumped 6-0 by City in last season's FA Cup final and Flores is concerned that his players take on the Premier League champions knowing they will suffer a heavy defeat.

"They have very bad memories playing against Manchester City," he told a news conference, in which he apologised on a number of occasions to the club's supporters.

"Before the game in the press conference one of you reminded me of the scores against City in the past years.

"It is like a prophecy that you are scared to play against Manchester City. Now we can try to forget them.

"We can think a lot about what happened in the match, but we lost in many ways. We conceded goals in many ways. It is our work as coaches to prepare much better for the next match."

After consecutive seasons out on loan with Strasbourg and Getafe respectively, Dimitri Foulquier was belatedly handed a Premier League debut against City.

He was hauled off after just 36 minutes, though, with his side 5-0 down, and Flores concedes that early switch might not be easy to shrug off for the Guadeloupe international. 

"It is difficult to know if he will be OK or not," Flores said. "The idea was probably wrong but we were waiting for the impact of Manchester City in the first 15 minutes.

"That's why we tried to protect [the defence] with this kind of player who can make you strong. We didn't have time to know if this idea was good or not because we conceded so early."

Kevin De Bruyne dazzled and Bernardo Silva hit a hat-trick as Manchester City put Watford to the sword 8-0 on Saturday.

The victory is City's biggest in a top-flight match – a fitting landmark to reach on the weekend the club marked their 125th anniversary.

But huge winning margins have become something approaching the norm in the Pep Guardiola era, with this latest rout the 11th time in all competitions since the start of the 2017-18 campaign City have scored six or more in a match. Six of those have come in 2019 alone.

From lower-league cup opponents unfortunately out of their depth to Champions League rivals and European trophy winners, a variety of clubs have felt City's wrath.

Spare a thought for Watford, who account for three entries on the list below – including last season's FA Cup final.

Six of the best, seventh heaven and more – City's big wins under Guardiola

2017-18

Watford 0-6 Manchester City (Premier League, 16/09/17)
Manchester City 7-2 Stoke City (Premier League, 14/10/17)

2018-19

Manchester City 6 -1 Huddersfield (Premier League, 19/08/18)
Manchester City 6-1 Southampton (Premier League, 04/11/18) 
Manchester City 6-0 Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League, 07/11/18) 
Manchester City 7-0 Rotherham United (FA Cup, 06/01/19) 
Manchester City 9-0 Burton Albion (EFL Cup, 09/01/19) 
Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea (Premier League, 10/02/19)
Manchester City 7-0 Schalke (Champions League, 12/03/19)
Manchester City 6-0 Watford (FA Cup final, 18/05/2019)

2019-20

Manchester City 8-0 Watford (Premier League, 21/09/2019)

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City's players have nothing to prove after they returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a record 8-0 win over Watford on Saturday.

The reigning champions slipped to a shock defeat at Norwich City last weekend but were in sumptuous form against the Hornets, racing into a five-goal lead inside the opening 18 minutes.

Three more goals in the second half gave City their biggest ever top-flight win as they closed the gap to leaders Liverpool to two points, although Jurgen Klopp's side do have a game in hand.

Some questioned City's ability to win a third consecutive title after the defeat at Carrow Road, but Guardiola believes there has been an overreaction to that loss.

He told BBC's Match of the Day: "Do you think after what these guys have done for two seasons they have to prove something?

"We listened after Norwich, but people don't understand that we can lose games. Sometimes I am surprised that former players and pundits still don't understand that."

Bernardo Silva struck the first top-flight hat-trick of his career in the win and Guardiola was full of praise for the man he describes as last season's stand-out performer.

"Bernardo was the best player last season," he added. "He was extraordinary. I don't think he needs to score three goals to get the credit he deserves."

Watford, meanwhile, remain bottom of the league with just two points from their opening six games.

Quique Sanchez Flores, who returned to the club for a second spell ahead of last weekend's draw with Arsenal, attributed the heavy loss to a litany of errors from his side.

"We made a lot of mistakes," he said. "The result is very difficult [to take], but it's the consequences of mistakes in different ways. All the goals we conceded came from different things and it's difficult to play like this against Manchester City.

"We will take the best things from the Arsenal game and try to solve all the things from this game."

Hat-trick hero Bernardo Silva described the opening half-hour of Manchester City's record 8-0 win over Watford as "unbelievable".

After last weekend's shock defeat to Norwich City, Pep Guardiola's side returned to winning ways in the Premier League in spectacular fashion, registering their biggest ever top-flight victory.

David Silva got them on their way after 52 seconds before a Sergio Aguero penalty and goals from Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Nicolas Otamendi put the game out of the sight by the midway point of the first half.

Silva completed the first top-flight hat-trick of his career in the second period before Kevin De Bruyne added an eighth five minutes from time.

Portugal international Silva was in awe of his side's performance and admits he did have some sympathy for Watford's players at the end.

"We were unbelievable in the first 30 minutes, scored lots of goals and had control," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "After the Norwich defeat, it was great to give our fans the result and the performance.

"We aimed to keep it going in the second half. We didn't want them to hurt us or score past us.

"Football is a hard game. I've won 8-0 today but I've lost plenty of times by four or five goals. You just have to keep going so I wished the Watford players well."

De Bruyne was in imperious form and Silva is in doubt about the Belgian's qualities.

"Kevin is a fantastic player," he added. "Everyone knows how good he is when he is fit. When he is playing like today, he is one of the best players in the Premier League."

The good news for Watford is, in the league at least, they do not have to face Manchester City again until next May.

The 6-0 defeat against Pep Guardiola's side in last season's FA Cup final was a truly humbling experience but, frankly, it almost looked respectable by comparison when City scored their fifth inside the opening 18 minutes on Saturday, on the way to an 8-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Records were set and Bernardo Silva went home with the matchball after grabbing a hat-trick on an afternoon when City celebrated their 125th anniversary.

City have seen few football games quite like this one when, in truth, things could have been even worse for poor Watford.

Here is how the game unfolded:

0:52 – Watford's task quickly became one of the steeply uphill variety when David Silva was on hand to convert a delightful Kevin De Bruyne cross from close range to make it 1-0 inside a minute. City's opener is the quickest goal scored in the Premier League this season.

3:29 – If such a contest can have a 'Sliding Doors' moment, this was it. Gerard Deulofeu embarrassed Nicolas Otamendi by skipping around the Argentina defender's challenge and Ederson was on hand with excellent reaction to preserve City's lead.

6:17 – There was not so much to enjoy about the goalkeeping at the other end a few moments later. Ben Foster needlessly felled Riyad Mahrez, and Sergio Aguero converted a penalty to make it 2-0 with his 100th Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium.

11:20 – Mahrez got in on the act by sending a free-kick past Foster courtesy of a deflection off Tom Cleverley. The midfielder stood apart from the edge of the Watford wall and diverted the ball into his own net with his face for 3-0.

14:07 – When Bernardo Silva scores an unmarked, stooping header from a corner, it's a sure fire sign your afternoon has gone awry. Watford's defenders appeared to have no interest whatsoever in marking the Portugal playmaker when he extended the lead to 4-0 from Otamendi's flick-on.

17:04 – No team has ever taken a quicker 5-0 lead in a Premier League game. Watford switched off as David Silva took a quick free-kick and Aguero squared for his fellow Argentinian Otamendi to slide home.

26:32 – De Bruyne unlocked the Hornets again and Aguero rattled a shot against the post from the edge of the area.

32:48 – Spare a thought for Dimitri Foulquier – the Watford debutant who was unceremoniously hauled off. During the time it took City to score five goals, he completed two passes.

43:12 – A combination of the post and Foster denied Aguero. Inevitably, De Bruyne supplied the ammunition.

45:00 (+3) – Half-time. Three minutes of added time meant City were 5-0 up at the interval having not scored for half an hour.

47:59 – City left-back Angelino came on for his Premier League debut at the break and it was soon 6-0. Will Hughes' poor defensive header and cute work from David and Bernardo Silva left the latter with a simple finish.

53:24 – Joao Cancelo replaced Kyle Walker. Sure, why not bring on the most expensive right-back of all time?

59:46 – De Bruyne's cross for 7-0 was so good Bernardo Silva could clumsily tread on the ball and still complete a maiden career treble. City now had Manchester United's Premier League record 9-0 win over Ipswich Town in their sights.

65:21 – Mahrez charged in at the back post to plant a header from Angelino's cross against the crossbar.

84:01 – Fittingly, given how he masterfully orchestrated proceedings, De Bruyne's fabulous strike into the top corner capped Watford's punishment at 8-0 – the biggest top-flight win in City's history and the Hornets' heaviest league defeat.

87:47 – City's brilliant Belgian, De Bruyne, probably should have equalled the Premier League record but dragged his shot wide at the end of a slaloming solo run.

Manchester City claimed their biggest-ever top-flight victory with an 8-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday to move within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick.

A 3-2 defeat away to Norwich City last time out had raised questions about the hunger in Pep Guardiola's squad, but they responded with a brutal dismantling of the Hornets on home turf.

Liverpool will restore their five-point cushion at the top if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Leicester City two points behind Guardiola's side after a 2-1 win over Tottenham.

In the day's other matches, Burnley moved up to seventh with a routine 2-0 home win over Norwich, while Everton lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield United.

DEVASTATING CITY BACK TO THEIR BEST

City's defeat against Norwich at Carrow Road had been their first since January, but any concerns it was anything more than a minor blip were pointedly answered by Guardiola's men against Watford.

The swagger with which City brushed aside Watford to take a 5-0 lead inside 18 minutes was a reminder of the defending Premier League champions' quality and ruthlessness.

David Silva opened the scoring in the first minute of the game and that was followed by a Sergio Aguero penalty six minutes later – his 100th league goal at the Etihad Stadium.

Watford's defenders were left in a daze by City's slick interchanges as three goals – scored by Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo and Nicolas Otamendi – blew the visitors away.

The second half could have been something of an anti-climax, but Bernardo notched his hat-trick before the sensational Kevin De Bruyne rounded off the scoring.

LEICESTER FIGHT BACK DESPITE VAR

Mauricio Pochettino's 250th Premier League game in charge of Tottenham ended in defeat as his side's away day blues continued at the King Power Stadium in a match dominated by VAR.

Spurs have been memorable beneficiaries of the VAR review system in draws against Manchester City – most famously in a dramatic climax to their Champions League quarter-final second leg last season.

However, when Serge Aurier's goal was disallowed at the King Power Stadium because of the tightest of offside decisions against Son Heung-min when they were 1-0 up thanks to Harry Kane, it took the wind out of their sails.

Leicester were re-energised and after they equalised through Ricardo Pereira they took all three points thanks to a sublime low strike from James Maddison.

The Foxes themselves had earlier been denied a goal when the score was 0-0, after Wilfred Ndidi bundled in from close range only for it to be chalked off by VAR for offside against Ayoze Perez.

BLADES SLICE THROUGH TOFFEES

It was a tetchy day at Goodison Park as Everton suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League against newly promoted Sheffield United.

An own goal from Colombian defender Yerry Mina, who headed in an Oliver Norwood corner, came against the run of play, but the Toffees were unable to find a way back despite long spells of pressure.

When Lys Mousset slotted in his first goal for the Blades with 11 minutes to go it was start of grumbles from the Everton fans about whether Marco Silva is the man to take them forward as they started to stream towards the exits. They became boos when the full-time whistle was blown.

Chris Wilder's side, meanwhile, leapfrogged the Blues into the comfort of mid-table.

CLARETS ENJOY HOME COMFORTS

Burnley's ability to punch above their weight in the Premier League in recent seasons has been largely down to their impressive results at Turf Moor. 

A typically dogged and disciplined display from Sean Dyche's men secured another three points and lifted them up to seventh in the table.

Victory was secured thanks to two goals in four minutes from powerful striker Chris Wood, as Norwich failed to hit the heights of their previous win over Man City.

Ben Foster accepted it was embarrassing after Watford suffered their record league defeat at the hands of rampant Manchester City.

The Premier League champions ran out 8-0 winners at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, achieving their record top-flight victory.

Watford were also thrashed 6-0 by City in last season's FA Cup final, a match in which Foster was on the bench for the Hornets.

But this time out he had a prime spot to see Pep Guardiola's men bounce back in style from their loss to Norwich City last weekend.

"It's probably a bit of shock, embarrassment," Foster said to Sky Sports.

"I think we let ourselves down today and the fans a bit. The fans were giving it everything, all they've got. Unfortunately, we on the pitch didn't give it all we have got.

"As a keeper coming to City and Liverpool, if you let five in in 20 minutes you fear the worst, you think cricket scores.

"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.

"You come away to City and I'm not joking, you come here and think if you keep it to two or three - they are so good. Them and Liverpool are a different level.

"We didn't do our job today. We have to take some positives but that's football. You have to clean yourselves up, move onto the next one.

"We have a few experienced lads but you have to keep smiling. I have just let eight in. I'm not happy but it is what it is. There is no point in dwelling, get ready for the next game and get ready."

Manchester City set a new club record for their biggest top-flight win with an 8-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday.

City led in the first minute when David Silva was set up by Kevin De Bruyne, with the champions maintaining their frantic early scoring pace to go 5-0 up inside 18 minutes.

That in itself was a Premier League record, but City could not quite manage to equal the competition’s biggest ever win, Manchester United's 9-0 defeat of Ipswich Town in 1995.

Bernardo Silva hit a hat-trick as City impressively bounced back from a shock loss at the hands of injury-hit Norwich City last time out in league action.

The emphatic result boosts their goal difference to +18 and moves them within two points of leaders Liverpool, who are away to Chelsea on Sunday.

As for bottom club Watford – who replaced Javi Gracia with Quique Sanchez Flores earlier this month – they will have to reflect on their heaviest defeat ever in league competition.

City also humiliated Watford in last season's FA Cup final, running out 6-0 winners with Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling each scoring a brace at Wembley.

Manchester City returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a stunning 8-0 triumph over sorry Watford to record their biggest ever top-flight victory at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side slipped to a shock defeat at Norwich City last weekend but responded in spectacular fashion against the league's bottom side, racing into a five-goal lead inside 18 minutes.

David Silva got them on their way after 52 seconds before a Sergio Aguero penalty and goals from Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Nicolas Otamendi put the game out of the sight before the midway point of the first half.

Bernardo Silva grabbed the first top-flight hat-trick of his career with goals in the 48th and 60th minutes before Kevin De Bruyne added an eighth five minutes from time. 

The result moves City two points behind Liverpool at the Premier League's summit – though the Reds have a game in hand - while Watford remain rooted to the foot of the table with just two points from their opening six games.City started in blistering fashion, taking the lead inside the opening minute when David Silva slotted home De Bruyne's wonderful cross from the right.

Ederson denied Gerard Deulofeu moments later before Ben Foster rashly brought down Mahrez in the penalty area, giving Aguero the opportunity to slam home his 100th Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium from the resulting spot-kick.

Their third came after just 12 minutes when Mahrez's free-kick from the edge of the area beat Foster courtesy of a significant deflection off Tom Cleverley.

Bernardo Silva added a fourth just three minutes later, stooping to head home a corner from eight yards, while Otamendi made it five in the 18th minute, turning home Aguero's low cross at the back post.

City's intensity dropped a little after that devastating opening, although Aguero came close to registering a hat-trick before the interval, the Argentina international twice denied by the post.

The hosts wasted little time making it six after the restart, Bernardo Silva slotting past a helpless Foster from 10 yards after collecting David Silva's pass.

Aguero twice came close to adding a seventh before Bernardo Silva brought up his hat-trick on the hour mark, prodding home De Bruyne's cross from close range at the back post.

Mahrez then saw a header cannon back off the crossbar before De Bruyne capped a superb individual display with a rising drive from 16 yards that gave a beleaguered Foster no chance.

 

What does it mean? Watford on the end of brutal backlash

Determined to return to winning ways after last weekend's surprise defeat to Norwich, poor Watford never stood a chance against Guardiola's men. A display of relentless efficiency moves them two points behind Liverpool, who travel to Chelsea on Sunday well aware that the reigning champions are ready to pounce should they slip up.

Aguero hits another landmark

The 31-year-old has now scored in each of his six Premier League appearances this season as he brought up a century of league goals at home. His only disappointment will be that he failed to add more, twice hitting the upright in the first half.

Foster in accommodating mood

He was hardly helped by his woeful defence, but the Watford goalkeeper provided little resistance to City. He brought down Mahrez for Aguero's penalty and scarcely produced a save in what was a game he will hope to forget quickly.

What's next?

Both sides are in EFL Cup action on Tuesday, with City travelling to Preston North End and Watford hosting Swansea City. Guardiola's side then visit Everton in the Premier League on Saturday, while the Hornets take on Wolves at Molineux on the same day.

Manchester City piled the misery upon Watford in an astonishing start at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with the Premier League champions roaring into a 5-0 lead inside 18 minutes.

The Hornets claimed a fine 2-2 comeback draw at home to Arsenal last weekend but their efforts in Manchester had more in common with May's 6-0 FA Cup final thrashing at the hands of Pep Guardiola's side.

City's brutal opening salvo is the quickest any team has established a 5-0 lead in Premier League history.

David Silva started the rout after 52 seconds, tapping in a delightful Kevin De Bruyne cross for the fastest Premier League goal of the season so far.

Sergio Aguero brought up his 100th Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium from the penalty spot after visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster brought down Riyad Mahrez.

Algeria winger Mahrez then dispatched a free-kick via a deflection off Tom Cleverley and Watford's defensive poise appeared to have deserted them entirely as Bernardo Silva and then Nicolas Otamendi capitalised upon abject set-piece organisation.

City, who headed into the weekend five points behind Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, have won all of their past 11 games against Watford.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero brought up 100 Premier League goals at the Etihad Stadium when he dispatched an early penalty against Watford on Saturday.

Since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011, the 31-year-old has firmly established himself as a crowd favourite on the back of countless superb displays and one goal in particular.

He is City's all-time record scorer with 239 and scored 21 in the Premier League last season, as Pep Guardiola's side made it back-to-back league titles.

The Argentina international is the third player in Premier League history to bring up a century at a single venue after Thierry Henry and Wayne Rooney at Highbury and Old Trafford respectively.

As Aguero eyes further honours this season, we look back some of his best Premier League goals on home turf in Manchester.

Swansea City: August 15, 2011

A club-record signing following his reported £38million arrival from Atletico, Aguero announced himself with a stunning substitute cameo in City's opening game of the 2011-12 campaign. Having slid in at close range to double the advantage granted by Edin Dzeko's opener, he inventively set up David Silva's third before saving the best until last. Aguero collected Yaya Toure's flicked pass 30 yards from goal and arrowed a venomous, dipping long-range strike into the corner. It was love at first sight for the City faithful.

QPR: May 13, 2012

An unforgettable moment replayed countless times, both era-defining for the league and career-defining for its central figure, it is easy to forget what a technically brilliant piece of centre-forward play Aguero's heroic intervention during the dying seconds of the season against QPR was. As the seeming formality of Premier League title glory slipped ever closer to the clutches of rivals Manchester United, the Argentine mimicked many of his country's great attackers by dropping into midfield.

Taking possession from Nigel de Jong, an alert Aguero picked out Mario Balotelli with his back to goal. As with much before and after the eccentric Italian's time at the Etihad Stadium, what followed was not simple, but Balotelli managed to complete a return pass while on his backside. Aguero touched the ball into space beyond Taye Taiwo's lunging challenge, keeping his balance as the QPR defender clipped him. "I hit the ball as hard as I could and hoped for the best," Aguero recalled. Cue bedlam.

Liverpool: February 3, 2013

City's title defence the following season stuttered as their talisman grappled with fitness niggles but he was at his awe-inspiring best to snatch a draw against Liverpool. Five minutes after a trademark long-ranger from Steven Gerrard put the Reds 2-1 ahead, Aguero scampered after Gareth Barry's raking ball into the right channel and found visiting goalkeeper Pepe Reina hurtling off his line. The City man got there first and hooked home from an improbable angle out on the wing.

Manchester United: September 22, 2013

Aguero set the tone for a rampant City derby display and a season of contrasting fortunes for the Manchester clubs, who were each under new management in the form of Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes. Samir Nasri's backheel found Aleksandar Kolarov and the overlapping left-back fizzed over a fierce cross that Aguero contorted himself brilliantly to convert with a left-footed volley. He claimed a second in a 4-1 win and City would finish the campaign as champions, with United in seventh and Moyes out of a job.

Newcastle United: October 3, 2015

The Buenos Aires native's insatiable appetite for goals has never been more clinically demonstrated than when he put an overmatched Newcastle to the sword. City won 6-1 and Aguero scored five of them, all in the space of 20 minutes. Half-time did at least give Steve McClaren's men respite after their tormentor cancelled out Aleksandar Mitrovic's opener, but a brutal evisceration followed. Aguero's third was his best, when he applied a delicate dinked finish on the end of an irresistible passing triangle featuring Silva, Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne.

Burnley: January 2, 2017

Aguero was due to spend the opening fixture of last year recuperating on the bench but Fernandinho's rash lunge on Johann Gudmundsson forced a re-think from Guardiola, who sent on his leading marksman at the break despite the hosts being reduced to 10 men. Gael Clichy gave City a 58th-minute lead and the Blues sprung forward again four minutes later, only for Raheem Sterling to go down under a challenge from Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton. Aguero was alive to the slim possibilities and got to the ball ahead of a sprawling Heaton, but the angle was very much against him. Nevertheless, he unleashed a powerful strike that clipped the near post and faintly brushed Matthew Lowton on its way into the net. Lowton and fellow Clarets defender Michael Keane were left to look at one another in perplexed fashion on the line.

Leicester City: February 10, 2018

Already with the match ball in the bag, Aguero had one more thunderous trick up his sleeve in last year's 5-1 thrashing of Leicester. Phil Foden picked out City's penalty box animal outside his natural habitat 25 yards from goal. Nevertheless, there was only one thing on Aguero's mind as he touched the ball forward and larruped a strike past Kasper Schmeichel that crashed against the underside of the bar and bounced up into the roof of the net.

Liverpool: January 3, 2019

Given City won the 2018-19 Premier League title by just a single point ahead of Liverpool, their 2-1 win over Jurgen Klopp's side at the turn of the year was pivotal. As is often the case in big games, Aguero came to the fore. He took one touch from Bernardo Silva's cross before unleashing a rasping left-foot strike into the roof of Alisson's net to give his side the lead. 

Benjamin Mendy is back in the Manchester City starting XI for Saturday's Premier League match at home to Watford.

It is the France international's first start in the top flight since April and Pep Guardiola will hope it marks the end of an injury nightmare for the left-back he bought from Monaco for £52million in July 2017.

Mendy has only made 17 appearances across City's back-to-back title triumphs, twice undergoing knee surgery.

He lines up in a defence that again features Fernandinho at centre-back alongside Nicolas Otamendi, in the continued injury absence of Aymeric Laporte and John Stones.

Raheem Sterling drops to the bench, meaning Sergio Aguero will be supported by Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez in attack as the striker chases a 100th Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium.

Quique Sanchez Flores began his second stint at Watford boss with a rousing 2-2 comeback draw against Arsenal last weekend and makes two changes to that line-up, with Adrian Mariappa and Dimitri Foulquier replacing Andre Gray and Christian Kabasele.

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