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Ratings: United humiliated by Watford; Maguire not a captain, Wan-Bissaka poor; Van de Beek the MOTM

Manchester United were beaten 4-1 by Watford at Vicarage Road in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were outplayed and outperformed by Watford, who opened the scoring in the 28th minute through Joshua King. Ismaila Sarr doubled the lead before the break. Five minutes into the second half, Donny van de Beek scored his first goal of the season. With United unable to draw level, the continued to struggle and two added time goals from Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis saw United beaten and dejected. Whatever happens from here is on the Glazers. United face Villarreal on Tuesday evening.

United did not start off all that well and looked like they did against Manchester City a fortnight ago. Watford won a penalty in the seventh minute of the match, which was initially missed by Ismaila Sarr but tapped in by Kiko Femenia. However, after some complaints by United the goal was disallowed and the penalty was signalled to be retaken. Harry Maguire was vocal about that as the offside of Femenia was after the penalty was taken, so it should be offside, but the penalty was retaken with David De Gea making the save again. United looked abject in defence once again and that is worrying at this stage in Solskjaer’s management.

In the 28th minute of the match, former United academy graduate Joshua King opened the scoring for Watford, assisted by Emmanuel Dennis. It was a good goal for the striker, who punished De Gea from close-range to score against his former club. United needed to hit the ground running now, but they would not do that just yet. Solskjaer looked like he did not care in the dug out, which is easy to say as it was a few seconds of the camera looking at him. One things is for sure, this United side have some major problems and it is not making very pleasant viewing for the supporters of the club. The so-called fans on Twitter will love it though.

Just before the half time break, Sarr doubled Watford’s lead with Femenia assisting. United were 2-0 down and looked dejected. The manager would need to make changes during the break. There was a feeling in me that United would not come back from this and that it could get worse. At the start of the second half, Solskjaer brought on Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek for Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay, who was on a yellow card from the first half of the match. Within five minutes, the Dutchman, assisted by Cristiano Ronaldo, had a goal back for United which was followed by a period of good play by United.

United did not get anything else from a period of pressure and the longer they were behind, the further they would fall. This was a very poor performance for United. Maguire was booked in the 62nd minute for a challenge, which was deserved as United tried to find their way back. They did manage to get level but the goal was ruled out for offside – which was just United’s luck. Solskjaer needed to get this side playing like they had been for him at times over the last three years, well almost. That was not happening though. Just seven minutes after his first booking, Maguire was send of after receiving a second yellow card.

This was a new low for United. To be in this position against Watford, who have been poor this season and newly promoted after a season in the Championship, was not good enough. Manchester United which this squad should be better than they were last season but it seems clear that certain players have downed tools, which is never a good look for these supposedly professional players. To hang a manager out to dry like this is something that will result in pay back for them at some point in the future. The players should be responsible for this abject display just as much as the manager. But if they want a new manager, they should get one.

With ten minutes left to play, United still needed a goal to draw level and possible share the spoils, which was better than losing but not what anyone wanted. It still was not happening for United. Diogo Dalot replaced Luke Shaw in the 85th minute but United still did not get anything from the match. In added time, a fourth substitution with Jesse Lingard replacing Jadon Sancho, who had a good performance at times, gave United one last chance which did not pay off. Joan Pedro scored a third for Watford in the second minute of added time with Emmanuel Dennis scoring in the sixth minute of added time to seal the rampant victory.

It is unknown whether Solskjaer will be given more time by the club, but at this time, it seems that nothing is ever going to work as something is clearly happening with the players. United will face Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening, the penultimate match of the group stages with United needing three points to command the group and reach the knockout stages of the competition. Next Sunday, they will face top of the Premier League Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which is another daunting match in such a busy week, especially with the players that are out injured and with Maguire clearly suspended for that match.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Seemed confident for the penalties, saving the one which was retaken. His defence let him down. Will take the blame for the third goal. United need to learn, especially defensively. These players need to be moved on if they are not going to stand up and be counted. De Gea deserves much better from his defence.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Needs to be dropped. His performances have dropped in the last year or so. Seems to make the same mistakes quite often, which is not progress. United definitely need some competition for him and Dalot is not that, I don't think.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Played slowly today and did not look confident. On the counter, his positioning was not the best. Seemed steadier in the second half, well until the two late goals to embarrass United.

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5 Harry Maguire

Seemed to improve a little in the first half, but not much. Played some important blocks and clearances in the first half. Booked and off in seven minutes, which shows he's possibly not the captain of the club. Will definitely miss the Chelsea match, which is a blow for United.

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23 Luke Shaw

Still not picked up his form, which is worrying. Wan-Bissaka seemed to be at the brunt of the attacks but one goal came down Shaw's channel. Replaced in the 85th minute by Dalot due to an injury. Seems he will be out for Tuesday.

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31 Nemanja Matic

His appearance in this game did not work out for United. More key to the fact United need an enforcer in the midfield and January will need bring that.

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39 Scott McTominay

I don't think he was fully fit for this match. Booked in the first half and did not make it out for the second as he was replaced by Van de Beek, who scored United's only goal of the game.

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25 Jadon Sancho

Seemed to show improvement in this game, despite the result. Was switched sides but his cross led to Van de Beek's goal in the second half. More improvement needed though. Replaced by Lingard in the first minute of added time at the end of the second half.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Seemed to cause the penalty which De Gea ended up saving after it was retaken. Had no real impact in the game. I'd like to hear what he was doing at the end of the match though, which seemed pathetic looking at the TV screen. It seemed he was asking the fans not to boo the players. After that performance?

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10 Marcus Rashford

Got a save out of Foster but that was really all he had in him today. Replaced at the start of the second half by Martial.

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Anonymous at times. Got the assist for Van de Beek, which was his best play of the game. Should have scored a goal himself though. Created something for Fernandes but that was about it.

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Substitutes

9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Rashford 46'. Seemed to dawdle after coming on. Played a good square ball into Van de Beek, but from there, he was not really noticed. Some think he's the talent in this squad. Oh please.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced McTominay 46'. Man of the Match for me. Scored his first goal of the season five minutes after coming on. Should start on Tuesday. He was the only player to really try in this match and all after how he has been treated. What a player to have at this club. He should not be allowed to leave. He needs to play every match now.

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20 Diogo Dalot

Replaced Shaw 85'. Had a cameo but did little for United.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Sancho 90+1'. Came on with a few minutes of added time left. Not enough to get into the game.

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Goals: Joshua King 28′, Ismaila Sarr 44′, Joao Pedro 90+2′, Emmanuel Dennis 90+6′; Donny van de Beek 50′

Assists: Emmanuel Dennis 28′, 90+2′, Kiko Femenia 44′, Ben Foster 90+6′; Cristiano Ronaldo 50′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw (Dalot 85′); Matic, McTominay (Van de Beek 46′); Sancho (Lingard 90+1′), Fernandes, Rashford (Martial 46′); Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Bailly, Telles; Mata, Fred

Bookings: Scott McTominay 19′, Harry Maguire 62′, 69′ s/o

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Ronaldo, Sancho, Fernandes and Rashford lead the attack against Watford; Van de Beek on the bench

Manchester United return to Premier League action this afternoon as they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford. A fortnight after the terrible 2-0 defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get back to winning ways in the league after a poor record in their last six Premier League matches, winning once, drawing once and losing four times. United have a fair few problems to solve at a time when the manager is under a lot of pressure. He has weathered it at this time and looks set to continue as the manager of the club and until that changes, he will be backed by myself.

Watford are not in good form this season, losing four, drawing once and winning once in their last six matches, sitting 17th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone. United, at the time of writing, sit in sixth place in the league, three points from fifth, five points from fourth, six points from second and third position but nine points from the summit of the table. Had United won at least two of the matches they lost, they would be up there with the likes of Manchester City, West Ham United and Liverpool with them all having a better season that United at this point and United in dire straits.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Matic, McTominay;

Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;

Ronaldo

Substitutes:

Heaton; Bailly, Dalot, Telles; Mata, Lingard, Fred, Van de Beek; Martial

Watford:

Foster;

Femenia, Cathcart, Nkoulou, Masina;

Sissoko;

Sarr, Louza, Cleverley, Dennis;

King

Substitutes:

Bachmann; Ngakia, Rose, Troost-Ekong; Gosling, Tufan; Pedro, Fletcher, Hernandez

United and Watford have met a total of 14 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 12 times, drawn zero times with Watford winning the remaining two times. United have scored 31 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. Watford have scored 14 goals, winning four penalty and scoring all of them. United have kept a total of five clean sheets, with Watford keeping one. United players have been shown 21 yellow cards and two red cards with Watford players being shown 24 yellow cards and two red cards. This will be a big match for both teams who are under pressure at this time.

Watford have five former United players in their squad at this time with Ben Foster, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley, Joshua King and Ashley Fletcher all coming through the academy at the Old Trafford club before leaving for pastures new. Ashley Young played for Watford before heading to Aston Villa, with him leaving for United from the Birmingham club. Danny Webber, Chris Eagles, James Garner, Reece Brown, Tomasz Kuszczak, Danny Drinkwater, Cathcart, Cleverley, Foster, Eagles, Webber and Jimmy Davies were all loaned to the club as youth players. Odion Ighalo and Danny Welbeck also played for Watford.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-1-4-1] Ronaldo, Rashford, Fernandes, Van de Beek and Sancho to lead United’s attack at Watford?

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford. A fortnight after the terrible 2-0 defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get back to winning ways in the league after a poor record in their last six Premier League matches, winning once, drawing once and losing four times. United have a fair few problems to solve at a time when the manager is under a lot of pressure. He has weathered it at this time and looks set to continue as the manager of the club and until that changes, he will be backed by myself.

Watford are not in good form this season, losing four, drawing once and winning once in their last six matches, sitting 17th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone. United, at the time of writing, sit in sixth place in the league, three points from fifth, five points from fourth, six points from second and third position but nine points from the summit of the table. Had United won at least two of the matches they lost, they would be up there with the likes of Manchester City, West Ham United and Liverpool with them all having a better season that United at this point and United in dire straits.

Previous meetings with Watford and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Watford have met a total of 14 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 12 times, drawn zero times with Watford winning the remaining two times. United have scored 31 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. Watford have scored 14 goals, winning four penalty and scoring all of them. United have kept a total of five clean sheets, with Watford keeping one. United players have been shown 21 yellow cards and two red cards with Watford players being shown 24 yellow cards and two red cards. This will be a big match for both teams who are under pressure at this time.

Watford have five former United players in their squad at this time with Ben Foster, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley, Joshua King and Ashley Fletcher all coming through the academy at the Old Trafford club before leaving for pastures new. Ashley Young played for Watford before heading to Aston Villa, with him leaving for United from the Birmingham club. Danny Webber, Chris Eagles, James Garner, Reece Brown, Tomasz Kuszczak, Danny Drinkwater, Cathcart, Cleverley, Foster, Eagles, Webber and Jimmy Davies were all loaned to the club as youth players. Odion Ighalo and Danny Welbeck also played for Watford.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Watford in the Premier League at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has been largely positive for United this season so far. United have conceded 25 goals in all competitions, which is a problem but the defence has let him down a lot of the time with only a few mistakes turning into conceded goals. Dean Henderson has played just once for the first team this season, and for that reason, him remaining on the bench is what will be likely. I don’t think he will be fit enough to play, but Solskjaer could allow him some minutes with matches coming thick and fast over the next month. De Gea will be determined to get himself into his top form, which will really help United to move forward.

Keeping clean sheets is what it needed for United, who have had just two in the Premier League this season, which is not good enough. Maguire has let the team down recently after a slump in form and after a positive display with England during the International break, he could have the confidence to find some form at club level, which is needed right now. But that said, there will always be some critic on social media who will pretend that Maguire has never been a positive player but they will forget about how United could not deal with his absence at the end of last season with the captain being a big miss for United at the time.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence is a major problem at the club right now. None of the players seem to have the form to drive United to glory, which is the reason why titles will not be won any time soon. Attack will win the club matches but defence will win them titles but with the number of goals conceded this season, which stands at 25 in all competition, there is massive room for improvement. Raphael Varane is still out injured, unless a miracle happens, so Solskjaer will need to make do with the players at his perusal at this stage of the season. Most of the defenders who have played this season are full internationals, so should do so much better.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka will keep his place in the right-back position. He has done well but I would like to see more of him overlapping the right-winger and playing to the strengths of the attack. What he does in defence is largely positive, although some people moan about minor things and pretend the are much more. With Luke Shaw likely unfit, Alex Telles should be given an opportunity in the left-back position which is something that could help Shaw as he could lose his place. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire should partner in the centre of defence. Maguire had a positive two matches with England, scoring twice and Lindelof is not a bad defender.

Defensive Midfield: Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic has been in good form this season and could play a big part in the remainder of the season. Playing in the defensive midfield position, protecting the defence, is the best way for him to play. Largely he plays positive game and does get forward at times and can be a threat on goal. Fernandes and Van de Beek could both assist him when United are being attacked, which could work as a good midfield three with this squad needing a defensive midfielder who can play the majority of the season and help United with a mixture of experience, ability, steel, flair and speed. That would be great for United if that actually happened.

United will need to ensure they are not caught on the counter, so will need pace to deal with Watford’s threat. This could be a match for United to regain some confidence as Watford are not in a good place this season, but that could also mean that they could be prime Barcelona come Saturday. If Solskjaer gets his formations and tactics right, United will play like a unit. Granted, things have gone stale in the formations and some, namely the 3-4-1-2 has not worked, which is problematic as this has been tried a few times, only really working when Raphael Varane was fit and bale to play. He’s a few weeks away from playing again this season too.

Attacking Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

United have a wealth of attacking players in the squad this season and playing a formation that plays to the strengths of the team is the best way to go, providing the manager is gutsy enough to do so. The 4-2-3-1 formation is stale and the 3-4-1-2 formation did not work as was expected, well only against Tottenham Hotspur, which does not say much. Playing in a 4-1-4-1 formation will benefit United with three midfielders on the pitch, two of them in an attacking sense. Donny van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes could combine well in that respect with Matic shielding the defence, which is a role he has done well. Even if he’s getting older.

Jadon Sancho has not really been tested enough this season and after a positive international break with England in October, he still did not get many chances, so it is time for him to play in his favoured right-wing position. Marcus Rashford, who has scored three goals since returning from injury, despite looking off at times, should be ready to get his season properly started. This formation could be reverted to a 4-3-3, which should still be strong for United, being that the midfield is stocked with ability, talent and a defensive steel with Matic in that position. Solskjaer needs to try something new as the stale formations have let United down at times.

Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored nine goals and one assist since returning to United an is the top scorer at the club so far this season. It is expected that he will start against Watford as he looks to get over the disappointment of Portugal not qualifying for the FIFA World Cup next year and having to get through the play-off first. This could see the Portuguese attacker in determined form, seeking to help right the wrongs at the club after their poor performances over the last few months. United really do need to find some good form or this season will be over before it really has begun. United are not all that far behind their rivals this season.

Ronaldo is determined to finish what he started at United and have a glory period at the club before he ends his career in the next few years. Some people complain that he’s a problem at United, but nine goals and one assist shows that it is not the case. With a good attack behind him, precise passing and determination, he will continue to lead the line for United in a way that will bring out the best of him and the club. United have a squad that is overstocked with attacking players, which bodes well for the remainder of the season If United can put the poor recent performances behind them and move on, things will be back on plan.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw; Jesse Lingard, Fred, Scott McTominay; Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood

With nine substitutes allowed to be named in the Premier League, with three able to be used, Solskjaer will need to ensure that the bench has enough on it to change the game, which is likely to happen unless United has suddenly found some form during the international break. Recently, the great performances that this squad are capable of have not happened and here’s hoping that it soon comes back. United need to get back on the road to victory. Dean Henderson will remain on the bench but there will be a time that he will need to play, even if he does leave the club either on loan or permanently during the January transfer window.

In defence, Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw could all be available with the latter subject to a fitness test to see if he is able to travel down to Watford after the head injury which kept him out of the England squad during the last international break of the season. In midfield, Jesse Lingard, Fred and Scott McTominay could all be available with the midfield the main area on the pitch that may need reinforcements at some point in the match. In attack, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood could both be available as there is an expected absence with Edinson Cavani, who is suffering from Tendon problems.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to pick best players against Watford, not most trusted who have let him down?

Watford -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Vicarage Road, Watford

Saturday 20 November 2021, KO 15:00 GMT

Referee: Jonathan Moss Assistants: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood

Fourth Official: Dean Whitestone

VAR: David Coote Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford. A fortnight after the terrible 2-0 defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get back to winning ways in the league after a poor record in their last six Premier League matches, winning once, drawing once and losing four times. United have a fair few problems to solve at a time when the manager is under a lot of pressure. He has weathered it at this time and looks set to continue as the manager of the club and until that changes, he will be backed by myself.

Watford are not in good form this season, losing four, drawing once and winning once in their last six matches, sitting 17th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone. United, at the time of writing, sit in sixth place in the league, three points from fifth, five points from fourth, six points from second and third position but nine points from the summit of the table. Had United won at least two of the matches they lost, they would be up there with the likes of Manchester City, West Ham United and Liverpool with them all having a better season that United at this point and United in dire straits.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LDWLWL

Manchester City 2-0 L, Atalanta 2-2 D, Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 W, Liverpool 5-0 L, Atalanta 3-2 W, Leicester City 4-2 L

Goals: 9 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Jesse Lingard, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Fred, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles

Assists: 8 – Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, 2 – Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, 1 – Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane

Watford – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LLWLLD

Arsenal 1-0 L, Southampton 1-0 L, Everton 5-2 W, Liverpool 5-0 L, Leeds United 1-0 L, Newcastle United 1-1 D

Goals: 4 – Ismaila Sarr, 3 – Emmanuel Dennis, Joshua King, 2 – Ashley Fletcher, 1 – Cucho Hernández, Juraj Kucka

Assists: 3 – Emmanuel Dennis, 2 – Cucho Hernández, Joshua King, 1 – Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley, Kiko Femenía

Previous meetings with Watford and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Watford have met a total of 14 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 12 times, drawn zero times with Watford winning the remaining two times. United have scored 31 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. Watford have scored 14 goals, winning four penalty and scoring all of them. United have kept a total of five clean sheets, with Watford keeping one. United players have been shown 21 yellow cards and two red cards with Watford players being shown 24 yellow cards and two red cards. This will be a big match for both teams who are under pressure at this time.

Watford have five former United players in their squad at this time with Ben Foster, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley, Joshua King and Ashley Fletcher all coming through the academy at the Old Trafford club before leaving for pastures new. Ashley Young played for Watford before heading to Aston Villa, with him leaving for United from the Birmingham club. Danny Webber, Chris Eagles, James Garner, Reece Brown, Tomasz Kuszczak, Danny Drinkwater, Cathcart, Cleverley, Foster, Eagles, Webber and Jimmy Davies were all loaned to the club as youth players. Odion Ighalo and Danny Welbeck also played for Watford.

Team News: Raphael Varane still injured, Paul Pogba suspended and injured and United are sweating on Edinson Cavani, Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw ahead of Watford clash.

Raphael Varane (Thigh) has been ruled out through injury and should be back in action next month. Paul Pogba (Thigh) is also injured but is also suspended for one more Premier League match after his red card against Liverpool – it is not yet known how long he will be out but it could be for the rest of the year. Edinson Cavani (Tendon)  has a 50% chance of being fit for this weekend and Luke Shaw (Head) and Scott McTominay (Virus) both have a 75% chance of being fit for the weekend, although keeping them for the UEFA Champions League clash with Villarreal might be much better than unleashing them this weekend if they are not fit enough.

Francisco Sierralta Carvallo (Thigh), Kwadwo Baah (Ankle/Foot), Ken Sema (Knee), Christian Kabasele (Thigh) and Peter Etebo (Thigh) have all been ruled out facing United through injury. Juraj Kucka is suspended for getting two yellow cards in the last game, therefore missing out against United. Ozan Tufan (Knock) will be subject to a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s clash and he has a 50% chance of being fit for the match, which might seem unlikely. Watford have a big squad and the five former United players will be seeking to face their former club, which will be a battle of two teams under pressure at this moment in time.

Predicted Starting XI: Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho to lead the attack against Watford with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seeking a victory.

Solskjaer needs to find a way to improve Manchester United. The club has been heading in the right direction but the current slump is not good enough. Some have been moaning that the manager has not been sacked, even setting up embarrassing protests, which started as an Ole Out protest, then changed to Glazer’s Out but did not attract a crowd that really knew much about what they were doing, spending money in the megastore then protesting for the Glazer’s to leave and moaning that Solskjaer had not won a trophy at the club in five years, despite still being a month away from his third anniversary as manager of the club. Pathetic.

David De Gea should keep his place in goal as he has shown what he is made of this season and despite many goals being conceded in the last few matches, most were down to defensive errors with only a few errors caused by the man himself. In defence, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles should all start in a back four. Nemanja Matic should play in the defensive midfield position, which could he good for the squad right now. Utilising a 4-1-4-1 formation, Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford should play in the positions behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

Match Prediction: United were beaten in their last match at Vicarage Road. It is time for Solskjaer to pick his best players, not his most trusted as they have let him down.

United and Watford have met 35 times in the history of both clubs with United winning 24 times, drawing six times and losing five times. United last played Watford in the Premier League in the 2019/20 season, in which they were relegated to the Championship, beating them 3-0 at Old Trafford with Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood scoring the goals. In the last visit to Vicarage Road in the league, United lost 2-0 with Ismaïla Sarr and Troy Deeney scoring he goals. Last season, United met Watford in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford, winning 1-0 with Scott McTominay scoring the only goal of the game.

This season, United find themselves in poor form entering the busy stage of the season, especially after all international breaks have assed for 2021 seeing United needing to improve their form in the Premier League, secure their place in the Champions League knockout stages and wait to see who they will face in the third round of the FA Cup in January. United started the season well but have won one of he last six Premier League matches with the media, the social media nearly-fans and all the muppets calling for the manager to be sacked and replaced with someone they will turn on in just a matter of time. I remember when support meant just that.

Watford 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: McTominay the MOTM after scoring the only goal to beat Watford; Henderson clean sheet, Telles got an assist

Manchester United beat Watford 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Scott McTominay, who captained United in this match, scored the only goal of the game in the fifth minute, assisted by Alex Telles from the corner. There were a few chances throughout the match but United seemed to be out of sorts, as were the visitors. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy to see his club into the fourth round of the FA Cup with the draw for that and the fifth round being drawn on Monday evening. United got back to winning ways after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup earlier in the week. Burnley next in the Premier League.

United started in fine fettle against their Championship opposition and that was made even better with Scott McTominay, the captain for the evening, opening the scoring in the fifth minute of the match. Alex Telles provided the assist from a corner with McTominay rising to bounce his header into the back of the net, beating Daniel Bachmann. McTominay likes to score an early goal and this was his third this season, scoring twice against Leeds United back in December 2020 in the opening three minutes. Minutes later, Mason Greenwood was released into the box but was unable to score United’s second goal of the match.

Watford tried to get themselves back into the match and had some chances to do just that, which did not change the scoreline. In the 19th minute of the match, Juan Mata curled a good ball into the box but it was deflected for a corner, which nearly resulted in United’s second goal of the match after Telles took the corner and an unmarked Eric Bailly nearly headed into goal but was a few inches wide of the target. Ismaila Sarr, who is perhaps too good to be playing Championship football, showed his electric pace at times with the visitors looking to level the scoreline and get themselves back into the game.

There was a penalty shout in the 32nd minute of the match after Watford swung in a corner from the left and after United failed to clear the danger, the ball bounced up and his Bailly on the hand. After a brief look, VAR decided that it was not a penalty, so nothing was given – rightfully so. Watford then put more pressure on United, seeking that equaliser. Sarr was then booked in the 38th minute of the match after he pulled back Jesse Lingard, who started for the first time in ages tonight. Andre Grey and Sarr played well in trying to get Watford level, but nothing seemed to be working out for them.

Telles had a shot in the 41st minute of the match, trying his luck from distance with a low drive but it was dealt with by Bachmann. The Watford goalkeeper then made a save in the 43rd minute to deny Mata after he was sent through on goal with a great back heel from Donny van de Beek, who returned to the starting XI today. In the 45th minute, just before half time, Dean Henderson collided with Bailly, who received a head injury with the goalkeeper coming out the clear the ball. After treatment, Bailly went straight down the tunnel and was replaced by Harry Maguire.

At the end of the first half, United had 70% possession, having 13 shots on goal, five off target, four blocked and four on target, scoring one goal. At the start of the second half, Watford immediately tried to get back into the game with Joao Pedro firing over the crossbar. Two minutes later, United had another chance with Daniel James having a shot on goal but it lost power before it could cause any danger for the visitors. On the hour, Mata played a good ball into Mason Greenwood who was unmarked on the edge of the box but the forward played his shot straight into Bachmann, causing no problems at all.

Axel Tuanzebe was booked in the 65th minute for kicking the ball away after giving away a foul, which was a sign of frustration from the player, in my opinion. Solskjaer has both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial warming up and they were brought on for James and Greenwood in the 69th minute of the match. In the 72nd minute, Alex Telles was booked for pulling back Pedro to hand Watford a free-kick in a promising position but Ken Sema’s resulting set play drifted just past the far post. Watford then had a chance through Grey after Marc Navarro dinked the ball into the former but his header was off target.

Solskjaer made a fourth substitution in the 79th minute with Nemanja Matic replacing Lingard. In the 81st minute, Rashford then made a charge and burst past Ben Wilmot and got a shot away but Bachmann read the strike and made an east save to deny the United forward, who has already scored 14 goals so far this season. Watford still had plenty to do but had a chance five minutes from time but Joseph Hungbo’s strike was deflected wide of the far post. McTominay, for me is the Man of the Match in this match for the impact he had on the game, scoring the only goal to put United into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Led well in his area and commanded his line. Seemed to have injured Bailly when trying to clear the ball, which was an unfortunate accident. This was a better performance for the club than against City in the Carabao Cup. Solskjaer and Henderson will be happy with that.

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33 Brandon Williams

Played at right-back nd being right-footed, he did well in the position. Watford never really tested United throughout the match but had a few chances on goal. Williams may look to take on Wan-Bissaka in the right-back position seeing as Shaw and Telles are rivals for he left-back role.

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3 Eric Bailly

Played a good game in the first half and was starting to look like one of the best defenders in the squad this season. A clash with Henderson, who was collecting the ball, seemingly put him on the injury list again as he came off in added time at the end of the first half, replaced by Maguire.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Had a good defensive game, partnering Bailly in the first half and Maguire in the second. He was booked for kicking the ball away in frustration, but other than that, this was a positive performance which allowed other players to rest and also put him in contention face Burnley next week.

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27 Alex Telles

Did well against Watford. He got the assist for the opening goal in the fifth minute, scored by McTominay after taking the corner. His set-piece taking is good to see and he gets forward a lot of the time, doing well with his crosses too. Almost scored, but saw his effort fail to hit the back of the net. Good to see him back and confident after a poor period at left-back which resulted in Shaw coming back into the squad.

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39 Scott McTominay

MOTM for me. Some will disagree, but this is my opinion. He did well to score the opening goal and gave his all in midfield, playing with players that he had not played much time on the pitch with this season. He captained United against Watford and this could not have been a more fitting match for him to show what it means to play for United.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Good to see him get some time on the pitch for once this season. I think he needs to play more, but the manager and the player will have an understanding why he's been on the bench. Played in a good back heel for Mata but the Spaniard failed to score the goal.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Played for the first time in ages. Did well at times but did not look fully up to speed. Came off in the 79th minute after he was replaced by Matic.

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8 Juan Mata

Did well for United after not playing for a while. Had some good plays with the ball. Van de Beek back heeled a goos ball for him but he could not score United's second goal of the game.

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Ratings: McTominay the MOTM after scoring the only goal to beat Watford; Henderson clean sheet, Telles got an assist

Did not have the bets of matches but his playing time has been impacted this season. Used his pace at times but I feel his confidence could do with a bolstering this season. Replaced by Rashford in the 69th minute of the match.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Led the line well and had a few chances but nothing that could have seen United take charge of the match. He was replaced by Martial in the 69th minute of the match.

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Substitutes

5 Harry Maguire

Replaced Bailly 45+5'. Came on after a Bailly injury at the end of the first half. Commanded the defence well and did what he needed to do. Will be thankful of the slight rest ahead of the next match against Burnley on Tuesday.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced James 69'. Had a chance in the last eight minute of the match but it did not come off. His introduction saw more attacking play from United, but no more goals were scored.

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9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Greenwood 69'. Added some attacking threat but was unable to score in a cameo performance. United got the result they needed with just one goal scored.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Lingard 79'. Did what he needed to do in midfield for United. Only has 11 minutes plus added time on the pitch. Will be thankful of the break and might play against Liverpool next weekend.

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Goals: Scott McTominay 5′

Assists: Alex Telles 5′

Manchester United: Henderson; Williams, Bailly (Maguire 45+5′), Tuanzebe, Telles; McTominay, Van de Beek; Lingard (Matic 79′), Mata, James (Rashford 69′); Greenwood (Martial 69′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Fernandes; Ighalo

Bookings: Axel Tuanzebe 65′, Alex Telles 72′; Ismaila Sarr 38′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Henderson, Tuanzebe, Van de Beek and Lingard start against Watford in the Emirates FA Cup

Manchester United will face Watford in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford this evening, their first match in the competition since losing to Chelsea in the semi-final of the competition last season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to go back to winning ways after a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup earlier in the week, seeing them losing a fourth consecutive semi-final under Solskjaer. The manager will be hoping that his team have all they need to take on the club which was relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season.

Watford are currently sixth in the Championship this season, ten points off the top spot, currently help by Norwich City with a game in hand. New Watford manager, Xisco Munoz will be seeking to keep his team in the FA Cup this season, scalping United, which is possible in a one-off match such as this. However, United will be looking to power home with the victory booking their place in the draw for the fourth round, which will take place on Monday evening. The draw for the fifth round will also take place, giving all teams the chance to see who they could face should they progress to that stage of the competition.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Williams, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Telles;

McTominay, Van de Beek;

Lingard, Mata, James;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

De Gea; Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Fernandes, Matic; Martial, Rashford, Ighalo

Watford:

Bachmann;

Masina, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Navarro;

Pedro, Highes, Chalobah, Sarr;

Zinckernagel, Gray

Substitutes:

Foster; Ngakia, Wilmot, Sema, Dalby, Barrett, Hung, Crichlow, Phillips

United and Watford have met 34 times in the history of both clubs. Eight of those matches (this one being the ninth) were played in the FA Cup or the League Cup. United have won a total of 23 times, drawing five times and losing six times. United have scored a total of 62 goals, keeping 14 clean sheets. Watford have scored a total of 30, keeping three clean sheets. Six of the matches played were in the FA Cup with United winning four, drawing once and losing once. Two matches were in the League Cup, United winning one and losing one. Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to enter the next round of the domestic competition this evening.

United last played Watford in the Premier League on the 23 February 2020, a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford with Bruno Fernandes scoring a 42nd minute penalty, Anthony Martial doubling the lead in the 58th minute and Mason Greenwood completing the victory in the 75th minute of the match. Earlier that season, Watford beat United at Vicarage Road in a match played on the 22 December 2019. It was a 2-0 defeat with Ismaïla Sarr finding the back of the net in the 50th minute of the match and Troy Deeney scoring a penalty four minutes later. Watford were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2019/20 season.

Written by John Walker

Watford forward Ismaila Sarr should be cheaper alternative to Sancho – Gary Neville

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer look into signing Watford forward Ismaila Sarr amid reports that United’s move for Jadon Sancho is no further forward. The club legend has stated that the 22-year-old is a ‘big, big talent’. Borussia Dortmund want more that £100 million for Sancho with United only willing to spend £50 million, which is not going to be enough to land the England winger. United should look into other options.

Whilst Solskjaer seems set on signing Sancho, it is not likely to be an easy transfer, despite recent reports suggesting otherwise. Sarr is an alternative with Premier League experience and despite not being a big name like Sancho, he should be considered as Neville is not looking to send United in a direction whereby they will be making a huge error. Speaking to Sky Sports on the The Gary Neville Podcast, The Mirror reported Neville as saying:

“Manchester United need a right winger. He’s a big, big talent, honestly he really is.

“We’ve seen his performances before but tonight he was a shining light, even in that first half there were periods where Watford did attack and it was through him.

“So yeah he’ll be sought after and Watford will, I’m sure, cash in if they get the right bid.”

During the 2019/20 season, Sarr, 22, has made 28 appearances for the club this season, playing in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup, scoring six goals and five assists. It may not be good enough for a team such as United, but if you look at Daniel James’ rise from Swansea City this season, looking at what he has done at United, going from five goals and ten assists in 38 appearances for Swansea – in the Championship, to scoring four goals and seven assists in 43 appearances for United.

That said, with quality around him, and that is not a criticism of Watford, Sarr could become a much better player than he currently is, therefore Neville has a point to be made here. Just because a player costs £100 million or more does not guarantee that it will work for him. Look at Angel Di Maria, who cost just under £60 million. He stayed at United for one season and did not really fit. Granted, it might have been different under Solskjaer, but he was not at the club then so there is nothing to say otherwise.

It was last summer when the Senegal forward signed for Watford, for a record fee said to be more than £25 million from Rennes, as reported by BBC Sport at the time. The player, then 21, signed a five-year contract at the club, which is set to expire in the summer of 2024. That gives Watford all the cards as to whether they sell the player this summer or not. Considering at this moment in time that their future in the Premier League is not certain, sitting 17th in the Premier League, just three points from the relegation positions.

If Bournemouth beat Southampton on Sunday, Watford would need to beat both Manchester City and Arsenal to stay in the English top-flight. If they are relegated, Sarr might want to leave the club. All we can do is wait and see what happens. Obviously, if Bournemouth fail to beat Southampton, it will give Watford some breathing space but will need points on the board against both City and Arsenal, which is going to be a big ask at this stage of the season.

Written by John Walker

Review & Ratings: Fernandes MOTM with a goal and an assist, Martial and Greenwood perform well in 3-0 victory over Watford

Manchester United beat Watford 3-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side ensured they got the better of the Hornets following the 2-0 defeat during the Christmas period. Goals from Bruno Fernandes, who also got an assist, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood saw the victory through with Scott McTominay coming back from long-term injury at the right time. Come on United.

United started well against Watford with the visitors also having a good start to the game. In the first half, both teams had many chances with United 10 shots, four on target with Watford having three shots, one on target. It was United who took the lead in the 42nd minute form the penalty spot after Daniel James played Bruno Fernandes through on goal with Ben Foster taking the Portuguese midfielder down in the box. Fernandes took the spot kick sending United 1-0 up.

Watford got a goal back in the 52nd minute through Troy Deeney but VAR disallowed the goal due to a handball win the run up to the goal; it being the third goal ruled out against United this week. United though, doubled their lead in the 58th minute of the match with Anthony Martial scoring his 15th goal of the season after he slipped in behind the defence, saw his initial shot saved by Foster, collected the rebound and found the back of the net with his strike. United were 2-0 to the good in this game.

United scored a third goal in the game with Mason Greenwood, assisted by Fernandes, scoring a stunning goal which saw Watford out of the game. Greenwood started the attack, feeding the ball into Fernandes, before he played the ball back to the 18-year-old who then unleashed a thunderous drive off the underside of the crossbar to effectively win the match for United, earning all three points as they rise back into fifth place in the Premier League, a good result to keep United chasing for top four.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper was largely untroubled by Watford with only their disallowed goal beating him in the match.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The right-back played well against Watford, especially defensively. The visitors has five shots on goal just one of those on target during the entire match. United were deserving of the three goals they scored and the three points they had in the bag.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The iceman did well against Watford, at times being the player that made an important block and interception to stop Watford from breaking forward and getting the better of United, which after the first goal, they had little of. I would like to see Bailly play ahead of him though, when fully fit and ready to fight for his place in the team.

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5 Harry Maguire

The captain could have been at fault for Watford's after Deeney out-muscled him, poking the ball into the back of the net at close-range. However, it was a let off as VAR ruled it out. After this, Maguire raised his game and was

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back played well against Watford, especially in the initial stages, getting the better of the attacking Watford players by cutting down possession of the ball.

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17 Fred

The Brazilian has continued to develop and adapt to the pressures of the Premier League this season. With McTominay back from injury, there will be less of a reliance on Fred, who will get a greater at times. Fred missed a good chance to score in this game but did his bit inn midfield. McTominay replaced him in the 79th minute of the match.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The veteran midfielder has been a stand out player at this stage of the season, starting more often than not and seeming to be rejuvenated. It is a wonder what difference some creativity in this team does.

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11 Mason Greenwood

The 18-year-old recovered from injury to start for United against Watford. He was showing his skill and ability during the match before scoring United's third goal of the game, assisted by Fernandes. He was replaced by Chong in the 79th minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

The attacking midfielder has been a breath of fresh air since he first played for United, filling in for the lack of creativity in the squad with Pogba out injured. The Portuguese midfielder was taken out by Foster in the Watford box, winning a penalty which he took himself, opening his account for United. He finished the match with a goal and an assist.

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Review & Ratings: Fernandes MOTM with a goal and an assist, Martial and Greenwood perform well in 3-0 victory over Watford

The Welshman had a few opportunities to get something from this game, his shot on goal going wide of the target. Some will abuse him and suggest he's not good enough, forgetting about his start at the club. He's played a lot of football this season and will benefit from that.

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman, who needed support in the attacking areas in this match but was not getting it, scored United's second goal of the game, minutes after Watford's equaliser was ruled out by VAR. He initially rounded the defence and shot on goal, which Foster saved. Martial then got the rebound and finished his effort, scoring his 15th goal for the club this season. Ighalo replaced Martial in the 80th minute of the match.

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Substitutes

39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Fred 79'. Good to see him back from injury. He did not really get much involvement in the game but came through his return without any problems.

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44 Tahith Chong

Replaced Greenwood 79'. He used his pace to try and help United but in terms of impact, he had little.

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Review & Ratings: Fernandes MOTM with a goal and an assist, Martial and Greenwood perform well in 3-0 victory over Watford

Replaced Martial 80'. Almost scored his first goal for United again, getting the better of a defensive error, trying to round Foster but unable to do so, crossing a shot towards goal which did not do what he attempted. Good to have him though. In a few matches, he might be fit enough to start in this team.

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Goals: Bruno Fernandes 42′ (pen), Anthony Martial 58′, Mason Greenwood 75′

Assists: Bruno Fernandes 75′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred (McTominay 79′), Matic; Greenwood (Chong 79′), Fernandes, James; Martial (Ighalo 80′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly, Williams; Mata

Bookings: Craig Cathcart 67′

Confirmed Starting XI: Martial, Greenwood, Fernandes and James start against Watford; McTominay and Ighalo on the bench

Manchester United welcome Watford to Old Trafford in the Premier League this afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get the better of Nigel Pearson’s side after their defeat back in December 2019, seeking to keep their chase on a place on the top four alive after their victory over Chelsea on Monday evening, which cut the deficit from six points to three points. Chelsea welcome Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, which could see United push closer.

After their 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Monday evening, United were back in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday evening, drawing 1-1 with Club Brugge – the third time they had faced the Belgian club – the last time being during the 2015/16 season in the UEFA Champions League qualification rounds. Solskjaer’s side may be boosted by the result as he rested many of his first team players but will be seeking to kick on in the Premier League to keep their top four finish dreams alive.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, Matic;

Greenwood, Fernandes, James;

Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Bailly, Williams; Mata, McTominay, Chong; Ighalo

Watford:

Foster;

Dawson, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina;

Capoue, Hughes;

Pereyra, Doucoure, Deulofeu;

Deeney

Substitutes:

Gomes; Mariappa; Cleverley, Chalobah; Welbeck, Gray, Sarr

United and Watford have played a total of 33 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 six times. United lost the reverse fixture 2-0 in December 2019 meaning that Solskjaer will be looking to get a result at home against the Hornets. Prior to that defeat, United had a five match winning run against Watford, lasting just over two years.

Before the 3-1 defeat in the Premier League in September 2016, United had an 11 match winning streak against Watford, which stretched from February 1987 until March 2016. Watford are a team that can get the better of United, as they have shown twice in the last four years or so. Solskjaer will be boosted by the fact that Odion Ighalo and Bruno Fernandes arrived in January plus other injured players possible coming into the fold.

How Manchester United could look against Watford; 4-3-1-2 with Ighalo and Martial leading the line and Fernandes adding the creative spark

Manchester United welcome Watford to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get the better of Nigel Pearson’s side after their defeat back in December 2019, seeking to keep their chase on a place on the top four alive after their victory over Chelsea on Monday evening, which cut the deficit from six points to three points. Chelsea welcome Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, which could see United push closer.

After their 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Monday evening, United were back in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday evening, drawing 1-1 with Club Brugge – the third time they had faced the Belgian club – the last time being during the 2015/16 season in the UEFA Champions League qualification rounds. Solskjaer’s side may be boosted by the result as he rested many of his first team players but will be seeking to kick on in the Premier League to keep their top four finish dreams alive.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Watford in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish number one was rested against Club Brugge on Thursday evening so after playing on Monday, he will be ready to play again on Sunday. Over the past few matches, De Gea has been playing well and seems to be showing signs of finding his form once again, which is great news for United. If he can lead from the back and find his best form, United will be able to achieve their goals easily.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Eric Bailly were both rested against Club Brugge on Thursday evening. Having both players back in the team, in a back four, will be something that Solskjaer may be looking to put together for the visit of Watford. Harry Maguire, the club captain will start with Brandon Williams keeping his place in the team, reverting to a left-back, rather than a left-wing-back, although Luke Shaw playing in the back three may be a loss based on the formation that has been used in recent matches.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Fred

The midfield has been a problem area for United of late with the injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay. The latter may well be back in action in some form or other in this game, which will be great to see. Playing in a midfield three with Fred and Nemanja Matic, McTominay would add something to this United squad, allowing Bruno Fernandes to play further forward and spark the creation for the attacking players.

Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes

The Portuguese midfielder is a great asset for the club with his creative spark and his eye for driving the club forward. United have been lacking creativity throughout the season and could do with everything to fall into place, especially for this match. United have been poor against the bottom teams in the Premier League this season and they need to overcome that after beating or drawing against many of the teams above and around them. Fernandes could do a lot in this team for the remainder of the season.

Forwards: Anthony Martial, Odion Ighalo

United now have some strength-in-depth in the attacking areas of the team. Granted it is not great with both Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood on the sidelines through injury but it is better having an extra player available to use and gain something from. Anthony Martial scored United’s only goal against Club Brugge on Thursday evening and Odion Ighalo has not yet started a game for United, playing in two of them this week. Utilising both players against Watford could be the answer to some of United’s problems.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Daniel James

United will need players available on the bench to get something from the game if they cannot find any inspiration from the players on the pitch. Sergio Romero, who played against Club Brugge will be the substitute goalkeeper with Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw the other defensive player available. Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Daniel James could add some attacking inspiration in different positions, should they be needed.

copyright: JW