Match Previews

Preview: Watford vs. Manchester United

Photo via Watford Observer

A narrow victory at the just a few days ago means United can continue their weekend/midweek pattern that has and will actually run from the International break just a fortnight past until the first weekend of next calendar year with some added confidence. It’s now the first of two trips down to North London to face Macro Silva’s in-form Watford at Vicarage Road. The first Premier League midweek gameweek sees all sides in action, and José Mourinho’s side will be eager to finally get that form going themselves away from Old Trafford. Kick-off: 8pm Tuesday.

Managerial chance comes naturally to Watford and since Marco Silva’s arrival, things have in fact changed for the better. A very solid start seeing them sit in 8th place is a testament to yet again switching up the squad and staff successfully. Not the biggest giant killers, they do come into the match with confidence.

On a less positive note for the Hornets, they currently suffer from a large amount of injuries. Former red youngster defender Craig Cathcart is out injured until the new year and joining him of the sidelines is fellow defender Younes Kaboul, along with midfield starlet Nathaniel Chalobah, defenders Miguel Britos (who has helped keep two straight clean sheets in the last two matches) and Tommy Hoban, and finally striker Isaac Success for the match. However, those players aren’t too integral to the system they play: the 3-4-2-1/3-5-2. The regular wing-backs Kiko Femenía and Marvin Zeegelaar were summer additions from Silva whom have proved their worth thus far.

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Another former United man in Tom Cleverley and middle of the park partner Abdoulaye Doucoure who has been superb this campaign. Whether it be ahead of them or alongside them, young midfield prospect Will Hughes has been contributing well too. In front of them is either an attacking duo or trio made up usually of Brazilian sensation Richarlison (who is both top Watford goalscorer and assist maker) Andre Gray or Troy Deeney. That leaves the likes of Christian Kabasele and Adrian Mariappa along with likely Sebastian Prödl at the back protecting Heurelho Gomes. Reinforcements from the bench such as wing-back Daryl Janmaat, midfielder Etienne Capoue, skillful attacking playmaker Roberto Pereyra, and versatile forward André Carrillo are ready to pounce on any chances. The back line is where they can beaten tactically the most despite being strong as of late as they have shipped in 24 goals including 3 at home to United’s next Carabao Cup opponents Bristol City who capitalised on a weak team.

The more stern form recently with 2-0 and 0-3 wins respectively in their last two matches mean that they’re no push-overs. Even with a poor record against United overall, they did beat Mourinho’s men 1-2 early last season.

Desperate to get back into form, United aim to get a win before the testing matches that could well define their season. There’s no shortage of Red Devils action until the new year too. An incentive too is that they could make it three Premier League wins a row with a victory.

The injury list is no different from the last match with Eric Bailly, the now on the mend following a cardiac scare Michael Carrick (who has also been offered a coaching role if he retires under Mourinho), and Phil Jones are still on the sidelines. That means that defence could include last match’s man of the match Victor Lindelöf, but he could be replaced with Marcos Rojo if he isn’t saved for the trio of bigger matches following this one. It’s expected that Chris Smalling and Ashley Young (returning to his former club) will also start whereas Antonio Valencia (who if chosen to play will become the joint most appeared South American player in Premier League history) could be rested in place of Daley Blind or Matteo Darmian.

In the middle of United’s park it could be Nemanja Matić and Paul Pogba accompanied by either Ander Herrera or Marouane Fellaini alongside them, or either Henrik Mkhitaryan or Juan Mata in front. It’s a fight out side for Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford (who scored at Vicarage Road last season), and the two aforementioned offensive men. There’s a battle for the spot up front for Romelu Lukaku (who could make his 200th Premier League appearance) and Zlatan Ibrahimović to fight if a sole striker system is chosen too. It’s worth nothing that some of David De Gea’s finest saves have come on this ground as well and it’s thought that he will start.

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There needs to be a change of gear for Mourinho’s men now to pounce on their chance to keep up with Manchester City prior to the derby. They also have to look behind them in the League too. With both teams here having some of their best ever 13-game starts it shows it’s no walk in the park.

It’s worth noting that Marco Silva was the men to end United’s unbeaten run back in January with a win in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg in which José Mourinho’s men still advanced in and won. The two Portuguese mangers are separated by just four wins since the former’s arrival. It will be tough for both teams, and it may get tasty if the pressure rises.

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