Manchester United, fresh from their 3-0 win over Leicester City, will look to find a win at Old Trafford against Watford, a side that is struggling to stay in mid-table after an excellent start to the Premier League season. Their opening matches of the campaign peaked with a win over Manchester United, caused by two late goals that concluded a 3-1 win at Vicarage Road, but they will fear United more this time, as the Red Devils have come a long way since and are unbeaten for 15 matches in the Premier League and almost 20 matches in all competitions, save for an irrelevant second leg defeat at the hands of Hull City. However, if Watford’s key players outplay United’s, they have every chance of leaving the match with three points, and United needs to be wary of their threats if they are to gain on Tottenham or Liverpool this weekend.
M’Baye Niang, Left-Wing, Watford
A stunning product of the AC Milan academy, M’Baye Niang was bizarrely allowed to leave and join Watford. While this brings his disciplinary issues to light, it cannot be denied that Niang has the promise of a world-class footballer, which makes him a standout at a club like Watford. In his first two matches, Niang has hit the ground running, earning a goal and an assist with an average WhoScored Rating of 7.69. Add that to the fact one of those matches was against Arsenal, and United need be wary of the threats this player can produce on his day.
Troy Deeney, Striker, Watford
The embodiment of Watford football club is Troy Deeney, club captain, and hero who carried them to the Premier League with his key goals. A physical striker with an eye for goal and an aerial battle, Deeney has been moderately successful in the Premier League, forming a formidable partnership with Odion Ighalo last season and firing Watford to Premier League safety before continuing his solid start this season with seven goals and three assists in 22 appearances. If Watford is to score on Saturday, Deeney will almost certainly be involved, and he won’t be afraid to get controversial with United’s defenders, either.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Attacking Midfielder, Manchester United
Freed by Jose Mourinho’s switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation against Leicester City, Mkhitaryan produced his best performance in a Manchester United shirt, scoring a goal and assisting another to top off a fantastically well-rounded display. As a result, Mkhitaryan is highly likely to play in attacking midfield against Watford, running off Ibrahimovic with the hope of causing havoc for Watford’s defence.
Mkhitaryan wasn’t involved enough in matches from the right side, as United’s wingers are typically used to overload space as opposed to creating chances- this also explains why Mourinho isn’t completely satisfied with the performances of Anthony Martial- and moving him to a central area brought the best out of the Armenian. If Watford doesn’t mark him properly, the result will be horrendous for the away side.
Paul Pogba, Midfielder, Manchester United
Jose Mourinho’s switch to 4-2-3-1 also reverted Pogba’s role, giving him discipline and allowing him to control the game without having the pressure of creating all the chances for United alone. The result was a very tidy performance from the Frenchman, who needs to develop this type of stability in his game. Early in the season, it seemed as if Pogba could not perform in a deeper role- however, setting him up with a competent passer of the ball in Ander Herrera (as opposed to Marouane Fellaini), Pogba will only get better at this role, which could become a long-term option for him at United.
Against Watford, Pogba will be tasked with holding the midfield together against a decent Watford midfield- the likes of Valon Behrami and Roberto Pereyra played for top-tier sides during their tenures in Serie A, and Etienne Capoue, in particular, has been very good for the Hornets this season. If Pogba keeps these players off the ball and controls the game for United, he will continue to silence (or discredit) his doubters.