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Preview: Manchester United out to sting the Hornets on Sunday to start their fight to break into the top four in the Premier League

Watford -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Vicarage Road, Watford

Sunday 22 December 2019, KO 14:00 GMT

Referee: Lee Mason Assistants: Scott Ledger; Simon Long Fourth Official: Graham Scott 

VAR: Martin Atkinson Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Manchester United will be back in Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to face Watford at Vicarage Road. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are in much better form heading into the match with them being undefeated in their last six matches. Watford have won once, drawn once and lost four matches in their last six matches and see themselves rooted to the very bottom of the Premier League table.

United will play three times in the space of six days over the Festive period starting on Sunday with this match against Watford. On Boxing Day, Newcastle United will head to Old Trafford with United heading to Burnley two days later. Three matches in six days could be problematic for United, unless they can get some injured players back in the squad or they will be reliant on youth, which is not a big problem.

United will also face a busy month in January with a visit to Arsenal on New Year’s Day which will be followed by six more matches with United facing Wolverhampton Wanderers in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup, Manchester City twice at the semi-final stage of the Carabao Cup and matches in the Premier League against Norwich City at Old Trafford, Liverpool at Anfield and Burnley at Old Trafford.

Form: United are the team to beat in this fixture this weekend with four wins and two draws in their last six matches. Watford have just one win in six matches, losing four times and drawing once.

Manchester United: WDWWWD

Colchester United 3-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, AZ Alkmaar 4-0 W, Manchester City 2-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 W, Aston Villa 2-2 D

Watford: LDLLLW

Liverpool 2-0 L, Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Leicester City 2-0 L, Southampton 2-1 L, Burnley 3-0 L, Norwich City 2-0 W

Top Scorers: United have scored 42 goals this season, including two own goals whereas Watford have scored just 14. Marcus Rashford has scored 14 goals himself.

Manchester United Goals: 14 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 2 – Own Goal, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United have their problems but there is no denying that they are improving. If the players on the sidelines through injury can get back into the team quote soon, the squad will be boosted after several months at barebones which has resulted in a number of youth players making their way into the first team. Rashford has scored the same number of goals that this Watford team has scored this season, which will be a positive.

Watford Goals: 2 – Gerard Deulofeu, Andre Gray, Roberto Pereyra, Ismaila Sarr, 1 – Tom Cleverley, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Will Hughes, Daryl Janmaat, Adalberto Peñaranda, Danny Welbeck

Watford have struggled this season and currently find themselves rooted to the very bottom of the Premier League table. They cannot fall any further with matches being played on Saturday. United are currently sixth and could fall lower before they kick a ball on Sunday afternoon. Watford might need a miracle this season but United will need to find a way to beat them as they will defend, causing United problems.

Team News: Paul Pogba back in training and may play before the end of 2019 but not against Watford this weekend. Watford missing Tom Cleverley and Danny Welback plus three others for this match.

United will continue to be without Eric Bailly (knee) and Tim Fosu-Mensah (knee) with both players having already returned to training in a bid to be back at some stage in the New Year. Paul Pogba has returned to training following illness but he will be out of this match and could play again before the end of 2019, according to the manager. Marcos Rojo will also miss this match. Diogo Dalot will return on Friday evening in a friendly match against AC Milan.

Scott McTominay, despite being on the bench, and Fred were both rested against Colchester United on Wednesday so it is expected that the duo will return to the starting XI to face Watford. Daniel James, Victor Lindelof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and David De Gea were also rested and should be back in the team to face the Hornets. Jesse Lingard will be fresh despite playing 28 minutes against the League Two club earlier in the week.

Watford manager Nigel Pearson will have a number of players out of action for the visit of United on Sunday. Jose Holebas (ankle/foot), Daryl Janmaat (knee), Sebastian Prodl (knee), and former United teammates Tom Cleverley (heel) and Danny Welbeck (thigh) are also likely to miss the match against their former club. The good news will be that Roberto Pereyra (groin) and Adam Masina (thigh) both returned to training.

Predicted Starting XI: Martial, Rashford, Lingard and James to lead the line against Watford? McTominay and Fred in midfield? De Gea to return in goal?

I do not think that Solskjaer will make many changes from the team which beat Colchester United in the Carabao Cup during the week. I would expect Anthony Martial to keep his place as the striker, although I would like to see what Mason Greenwood could do in the position – I may have to wait for that though. Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay, Fred and David De Gea will all return though.

Match Prediction: United to continue their winning run against Watford this weekend?

United and Watford have played a total of 32 matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 1950. United have won 22 times, drawn five times and lost five times. The last defeat to Watford came in the Premier League back in September 2016, a 3-1 defeat at Vicarage Road with Etienne Capoue, Juan Zúñiga, and Troy Deeney scoring the goals for Watford with Marcus Rashford getting a consolation.

That defeat ended an 11 match winning run against Watford, which stretched back to February 1987. Since that defeat, United has played Watford five times, winning all five matches. In those five matches, United has scored 11 goals, conceded four goals, keeping a total of two clean sheets. Solskjaer will be seeking to extend that five match winning run to six matches, returning to winning ways in the league.

Watford 0-2 Manchester United

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