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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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21 Daniel James

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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21 Daniel James

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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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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25 Odion Ighalo

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.

Preview: Manchester United seeking to teach Watford a lesson for December defeat; Ighalo, Martial and Fernandes to tear them up?

Manchester United -v- Watford

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 23 February 2020, KO 14:00 GMT

Referee: Martin Atkinson Assistants: Lee Betts, Peter Kirkup Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor 

VAR: Andre Marriner Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger

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.

Form: United are the team in better form with Watford winning just once in their last six matches, drawing twice and losing three times.

Manchester United: DWDWWL

Club Brugge 1-1 D, Chelsea 2-0 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 D, Manchester City 1-0 W, Tranmere Rovers 6-0 W, Burnley 2-0 L

Watford: DLLLDW

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 D, Everton 3-2 L, Tranmere Rovers 2-1 L, Aston Villa 2-1 L, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 D, Bournemouth 3-0 W

Top Scorers: United leading the way with goals scored, despite losing top scorer for perhaps the remainder of the season. Watford don’t seem to be scoring many goals at this present time, needing to find a way out if the relegation zone.

Manchester United Goals: 19 – Marcus Rashford, 12 – Anthony Martial, 10 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 2 – Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United need to keep moving forwards in their pursuit to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. They have two chances; winning the Europa League or finishing in the top four of the Premier League. Solskjaer made a good decision to rest a few players for the clash with Club Brugge on Thursday evening. The match against Watford is one that United need to win more to keep chase on a top four position, which is where they should be aiming to finish at the end of the season.

Watford Goals: 5 – Troy Deeney, Roberto Pereyra, 4 – Gerard Deulofeu, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Ismaila Sarr, 2 – Andre Gray, 1 – Nathaniel Chalobah, Tom Cleverley, Tom Dele-Bashiru, Kaylen Hinds, Will Hughes, Daryl Janmaat, Adam Masina, Adalberto Peñaranda, Danny Welbeck

Watford are no longer rock bottom in the Premier League table, sitting six points better off than Norwich City, who look certain for relegation this season. They have won five matches, drawn nine and lost 12 so far in the league this season, so will need to pull something out of the bag soon or face the teams above them stretching their lead making it tough to get out of the bottom three. Watford have one win in their last five Premier League matches.

Team News: Six players on the sidelines for United with Rashford and Pogba, who both may not play football against this season. Watford have one player ruled out, and two with a chance of recovering.

United have six players on the sidelines through injury at this present time; Mason Greenwood (knock), Tim Fosu-Mensah (thigh), Axel Tuanzebe (thigh) – all of whom could be back in action at the start of next month, or before. Lee Grant (wrist) needed surgery so will be out for a period of months, Marcus Rashford (back) who may not play again this season, and Paul Pogba (ankle) who once again, as it gets to his return date the excuses keep coming and now he’s not yet ready to train, let alone play. Scott McTominay could be on the return though.

Watford have four players on the sidelines through injury at the present time; Daryl Janmaat (knee) who will be out until the end of the month, Kiko Femenia (thigh) and Ismaila Sarr (thigh) who both have a 75% chance of recovering in time for the visit to Old Trafford, and Tom Cleverley (lacking match fitness) who is currently being assessed as to whether he could face his former club at the Theatre of Dreams.

Predicted Starting XI: Martial and Ighalo to lead the line with Fernandes just behind them and McTominay reinforcing the midfield with his return from injury?

Solskjaer seems to have a few more injury problems at this moment in time with Mason Greenwood adding to the list with a knock, which could keep him out until the end of the month. This means that Anthony Martial and Odion Ighalo could lead the line with Bruno Fernandes sitting behind them with a midfield three of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic. The back four could consist of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Brandon Williams with David De Gea returning in goal.

Match Prediction: United have won 22 of the 33 matches played against Watford, previously having an 11 match winning run and a five match winning run, losing twice, ending each run.

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.

Manchester United 2-0 Watford

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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21 Daniel James

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.

copyright: JW