The Premier League returns this weekend after a week of international fixtures. That also means that Manchester United will be back in action )if you can call what they’ve been doing recently ‘action’).
It was a tough 2-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City before the break, just weeks after Liverpool smashed the Red Devils for 5 at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men now face an easier proposition on the surface, travelling to West London to face Watford, who sit in 17th place in the league.
With two wins in their last seven matches, United’s form has been less than admirable. Four points in the league since mid-September mean that The Reds’ title hopes have all but vanished now. However, this will be the first favourable fixture for United in a while, but with Chelsea and Arsenal on the horizon in the league, the importance placed on getting three points at Vicarage Road is high.Embed from Getty Images
Meanwhile, since Claudio Ranieri took charge at The ‘Orns, they lost 5-0 to Liverpool (who hasn’t, eh), but then provided a shock 5-2 victory against Everton at Goodison Park, with Joshua King bagging a hat-trick against his old club.
Since then it has been two narrow 1-0 defeats for The Hornets, but it’s believed that The Tinkerman is starting to steer the ship towards safety, with Watford loitering two points above the relegation zone. With two wins in their last four matches against United at their home, Watford will be desperate to get another good result on Saturday.
Paul Pogba remains on the sidelines after his three-match suspension due to his red card against Liverpool — however, after sustaining a knee injury while on international duty with France, it’s likely that the midfielder will be out for a longer period of time.
Raphaël Varane is also not quite ready to return to action for the Reds after his injury against Atalanta in the Champions League. While the involvements of Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani are unknown, Solskjær has not completely ruled them out of potential involvement against Watford.Embed from Getty Images
Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford are two more that may feature on the weekend, after having to pull out of international duty with illness, however the boss has said he cannot yet confirm if they will.
For the hosts, Ozan Tufan will undergo a late fitness test for the encounter after he suffered a knock on international duty. Francisco Sierralta will be unavailable due to a hamstring injury picked up with Chile last week.
Ones to watch
For the hosts, the danger men will likely come in the form of Joshua King and Ismaïla Sarr. After kicking off his season against Everton, King will want to inflict further damage on United, another former club of the Norwegian, and increase his goal tally.
While Sarr will be looking to have a similar impact that he had against the Red Devils in 2019/20 in Hertfordshire where his opening goal and penalty win helped his side to a famous 2-0 win against The Reds.
Ben Foster is also someone that United should look out for, and I’m not only talking about his post-match vlog on YouTube either. The 38-year-old goalkeeper stopped five shots including a penalty against Arsenal before the break, proving he is still half-decent and didn’t lose all of his footballing ability because he picked up a camera, who would’ve thought it!Embed from Getty Images
Apart from Cristiano Ronaldo, who will more than likely find himself in goalscoring positions in some capacity this weekend, United have a couple others who supporters will be keen to watch in this match.
Marcus Rashford’s return from injury has seen him net three times in five matches, and after he remained at Carrington over the international break, you’d only imagine that he is fit and ready to increase his goal tally against The Hornets, which currently sits at three goals in five starts.Embed from Getty Images
With Donny van de Beek reportedly looking likely to start his first Premier League match of the season, it will be interesting to see where he’s operating, and who with. A deeper role is clearly not his bread and butter, while he remains a contrasting option in the hole to a certain Bruno Fernandes.
Predicted line-up (4-2-3-1)
David de Gea;
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelöf, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw;
Fred, Nemanja Matic;
Jadon Sancho, Donny van de Beek, Marcus Rashford;
Every match at the moment feels like it is a must-win for Solskjær’s men, however, with Watford sitting in 17th and United in desperate need of three points, this game is a must-win. Again.
With Liverpool and Arsenal facing against each other on Saturday evening, this weekend provides the opportunity for United to regain points on the competitors, after slipping too many points in previous games. Usually, when the opportunity to gain on a rival is there, The Reds somehow slip up again. Hopefully, composure is shown against Watford this time.