Watford manager Javi Gracia has said that he doesn’t regret resting several key players after his side lost 3-1 to Manchester City on Saturday afternoon.

The Hornets were beaten by a Raheem Sterling hat-trick, and although Gerard Deulofeu pulled one back it wasn’t enough. Gracia made seven changes for the trip to the Etihad in anticipation of next week’s FA Cup quarter-final against Crystal Palace.

Gerard Deulofeu

Speaking after the game, Gracia justified his decision to rotate and rest key players. Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “The decisions I make are focused on the next game. Before the game I thought we needed fresh legs to compete today and to run a lot.

“There are eight games left and the FA Cup. If I have to take the decision again, I would do it the same way.”

The defeat is ​Watford’s second in three league games, though they remain eighth in the ​Premier League table. The Hornets are also just one game away from Wembley in the FA Cup, as they look to reach the semi-final for the second time in four years.


Gracia added: “In this moment, we have 26 players available and all of them deserve to play. As you can see, they have competed well. It is good for us to compete today. This is the best news for us, to have 26 players ready to compete and all of them trying to help the team.”

Watford frustrated the reigning champions during the first half, as they defended well and contained ​City’s deadly attack. However they cracked in the second half, conceding after just 40 seconds to a controversial goal from ​Sterling.

With the trip to the Etihad now out of the way, Gracia can truly focus on the FA Cup. He has a week to prepare for the visit of ​Crystal Palace to Vicarage Road, as the Hornets hope to win the historic trophy for the first time in their 121-year history.