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Review & Ratings: Solskjaer needs to learn a lesson from Watford defeat – poor tactics; Martial ineffective, Pogba the light in the darkness

Manchester United were beaten 2-0 by Watford at Vicarage Road in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. It was such a poor defeat and the players need to take the responsibility for this one. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also needs to find a way for his team to break down their opposition when they play behind the ball. It is something every manager should be able to do. Playing the same week in and week out won’t do this.

It was another frustrating first half for United. Jesse Lingard had the chance of the half, trying to chip the goalkeeper but ending up off target. Watford took their chances, breaking the deadlock in the 50th minute through Ismaila Sarr whose shot should have been stopped by David de Gea, who tried to hid his embarrassment. United needed to get back into the game now, which has seemingly bee difficult from the start.

Watford doubled their lead in the 54th minute after Aaron Wan-Bissaka gave them a penalty. Troy Deeney scored from the spot to send his side 2-0 up over United, who just did not have the ability, desire or determination to get something from the game. Now at 2-0 down, it could be something short of a miracle that United needed to get back into it, let alone getting the victory.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper made a big mistake to gift Watford their opening goal in the 50th minute. It was such a poor goal to give away that De Gea tried to hide his embarrassment. Four minutes later he conceded to a penalty putting Watford 2-0 up.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The right-back got forward at times although United did not seem to be taking advantage of attacking. He gave away a penalty in the 54th minute of the match seeing Watford go 2-0 up.

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2 Victor Lindelof

I don't think Lindelof played badly today, despite the team playing badly. In terms of confidence, the way he plays against big teams does not seem to be reflected against smaller teams. He was a thorn in the side of Troy Deeney but with the ball at his feet, he should have done more with it, especially with the fact he was given the space.

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5 Harry Maguire

You could see the frustration in his face. He's not happy with the overall team performance. Unlucky with a header, which was aimed straight at Foster.

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back was booked in the first half. He did his job most of the time and got forward, although a lot more in the second half when United were chasing the game. However, in terms on fitness, I don't think he's quite there yet.

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17 Fred

Looked to have lost something during this game. He has risen to becoming a decent midfielder over the past few months. He could improve his delivery of the ball, especially from set-pieces.

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39 Scott McTominay

The Scotland international did not seem to be in the best of form against Watford. Neither did Fred, which is a shame. McTominay got a shot on goal but could not change anything for United. He was replaced by Juan Mata in the 73rd minute.

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Review & Ratings: Solskjaer needs to learn a lesson from Watford defeat – poor tactics; Martial ineffective, Pogba the light in the darkness

The Welsh winger did not make much of a mark in the game. His pace and ability are frightening but if other cogs in the team are not working, it doesn't work for him. Saw himself being replaced by Mason Greenwood in the 58th minute.

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14 Jesse Lingard

It was another poor game for Lingard. I understand his family problems but he's a professional footballer. He had the chance to put United in front in the first half, aiming to chip Ben Foster. His effort was off target. He was replaced by Paul Pogba in the 64th minute.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The clubs top scorer this season did not pressure Foster at all in the game. His first touch was poor also. His free-kick, which Foster palmed away was predictable. Hopefully it was a bad day at the office.

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9 Anthony Martial

Another poor performance from the Frenchman. As the weeks go on, it is clear that he's not the striker to drive this team forward. He just cannot seem to find the goal. Mason Greenwood has the same number of goals as him playing fewer minutes. Time for Greenwood to lead the line?

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced James 58'. The teenager should have started instead of Martial, in my opinion. He tried to get involved to change the game but the rest of the team were not on the same page.

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6 Paul Pogba

Replaced Lingard 64'. A return from injury for the Frenchman. His long-range pass into the box was good to see. If only Marouane Fellaini was there to receive it. Didn't disgrace himself in his return from injury, spending around three months on the sidelines. Playing basketball must have kept his fitness up.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced McTominay 73'. Pointless in this team. To bring Mata on at 2-0 down would have been good six years ago. Today though, it added nothing of note. He didn't give the ball away much, which was his highlight.

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Goals: Ismaila Sarr 50′, Troy Deeney 54′ (penalty)

Assists: Christian Kabasele 50′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay (Mata 73′); James (Greenwood 58′), Lingard (Pogba 64′), Rashford; Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Young; Pereira, Matic

Bookings: Etienne Capoue 36′, Abdoulaye Doucoure 51′, Craig Cathcart 90+2′; Luke Shaw 38′

Confirmed Starting XI: Pogba on the bench; Martial, Rashford, Lingard and James lead the attack against Watford

Manchester United are be back in Premier League action this 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.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

James, Lingard, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Young; Pogba, Mata, Pereira, Matic; Greenwood

Watford:

Foster;

Mariappa, Kabasele, Cathcart, Femenia;

Capoue, Hughes;

Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu;

Deeney

Substitutes:

Gomes; Dawson, Masina; Chalobah, Pereyra; Gray, Success

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.

How Manchester United could look against Watford; Martial leading the line, Rashford, Lingard and James supporting with McTominay and Fred in midfield

Manchester United will face Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League. United will be seeking to return to winning ways in the league after a 1-1 draw with Everton last weekend, which could have had United a mere two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. A 3-0 victory over Colchester United in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening will be a boost for United.

Over the next three games before the end of the year and decade, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking a way of breaking back into the top four, which was in reach after the victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the last fortnight and that draw with Everton messed it up. Solskjaer will need his best available team to grind a result against bottom of the table Watford, a match United could struggle in.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper got himself a rest during the week with Sergio Romero stepping into his boots in the Carabao Cup victory over Colchester United. De Gea might have to play in the next three matches against Watford, Newcastle United and Burnley before the month ends, although Romero might be given a rare Premier League outing if De Gea needs to be rested with a view to the Arsenal match on. New Year’s Day. De Gea has not kept a clean sheet in the league since the victory over Leicester City in September and 12 league matches have been played since then. It is about time the defence managed a clean sheet and the match against Watford could well be that match, hopefully.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

This season, the back four which consists of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw is the first-choice back four. Brandon Williams has had a few good appearances in the left-back position with Axel Tuanzebe taking the place of Lindelof at times, but based on ability and promise, this is the best mixture, at this moment in time at least. United kept a clean sheet with Maguire and Shaw on the pitch during the week and getting a long-awaited clean sheet in the Premier League will be something the players need to achieve this weekend, if they can.

Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay

Fred and Scott McTominay are the best midfield due at the club this season. Both has been pulling it out of the bag in recent weeks and Fred has grown as a player since last season, when he hardly ever played because of his poor performances. With Paul Pogba still out of action, for however long that may be, having McTominay and Fred build a midfield partnership with add something to this team. It might also give Pogba and others a fight to get back into the team on a more regular basis. It is clear though that United need to add some talent to the midfield ranks as creativity is a problem in the position.

Attacking Midfielders: Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford

Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford should all play against Watford. Lingard has been improving in his play, even if it is just a little bit. James adds a deathly amount of pace to the team and can cross the ball in from the right and Rashford adds a player in form into the team, a player who is seeking to reach more than twenty goals in a season for the first time in his senior career. Over the past two seasons he has scored 13 goals in all competitions, beating that with his 14th goal of the season against Colchester United on Wednesday. Combined, all three players can add pace, attacking prowess and creativity to provide Martial with good balls for his to find the back of the net.

Striker: Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial scored his seventh goal of the season when United faced Colchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday matching Mason Greenwood’s seven goals this season. Despite playing 90 minutes, it would seem that Martial will need to play in order to get match fitness ahead of the busy stage of the season which will see United play three times in six days or four times in ten days if you include the away trip to Arsenal on New Year’s Day. Martial will need to find a way to get himself amongst the goals for United as right now, he’s not being that leading man he could become.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Diogo Dalot, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams; Andreas Pereira, James Garner; Mason Greenwood

Diogo Dalot returned from injury to face AC Milan in an U19s friendly on Friday evening and for that reason, he could be on the bench against Watford on Sunday. Sergio Romero will most likely be back on the bench following his clean sheet against Colchester United on Wednesday. Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams could be the other defensive players on the bench; Dalot has played a more advanced role in the team when he has played under Solskjaer. Andreas Pereira and James Garner could provide something in midfield if needed with Mason Greenwood being the attacking player on the bench for this match.

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

copyright: JW