Match Preview: Manchester United vs Watford

After a trip midweek to Madrid for the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 fixture against Atletico Madrid, Manchester United are back in Premier League action and welcome Roy Hodgson‘s Watford side to Old Trafford.

The hunt continues for a top four spot and Ralf Rangnick‘s Reds need to ensure that they exact revenge for the humiliating loss that United suffered a few months ago at Vicarage Road in what would be the final game of Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s tenure as United manager.

Form Guide

Despite showing an absolutely pathetic first half performance against La Rojiblancos midweek, the Red Devils were able to secure a draw thanks to a goal scored by youngster Anthony Elanga. This means it’s all to play for at Old Trafford in a few weeks when Diego Simeone‘s side come to town.

From a statistical perspective, Rangnick’s side are in fairly decent form, being unbeaten in their last 5 games in all competitions. Further filtering to consider only Premier League competition, United are on a 7 game unbeaten run. In their last Premier League outing, Manchester United put 4 goals past Marcelo Bielsa‘s Leeds United side despite showing their deficiencies when they conceded 2 goals in rapid succession.

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Ralf Rangnick will be hoping that his United side can further pile on the goals while maintaining a clean sheet against a side entrenched in the relegation zone. Doing so would be a much needed confidence boost ahead of a trip to the Etihad to take on the Premier League leaders.

Watford, on the other hand, have experienced a record of DLLWL in their last 5 Premier League fixtures. They did record an unexpected win against Steven Gerrard‘s Aston Villa side but were most recently thumped by Patrick Vieira‘s Crystal Palace.

Watford may seem like just a relegation side but they’re 4 points away from safety at the moment so you can expect they’ll be doing all they can to secure at least a point at Old Trafford.

Team News

For Manchester United, Rangnick has already confirmed that Edinson Cavani and Scott McTominay will be unavailable for selection due to various ailments. The rest of the squad however, is up for selection.

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Tom Heaton was also seen back with the squad at their hotel so it can be assumed that he is also fit once again.

There aren’t any other significant availability developments for Manchester United.

For Watford, Joao Pedro and Juraj Kucka are back and available for the game. Lastly, while he was withdrawn against Crystal Palace as a precaution, Joshua King is back in training for the Hornets and may feature.

Ones to Watch

For Manchester United, the 2 players to watch would most certainly be Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga.

Jadon Sancho seems to finally be settling in nicely and is playing some lovely football on a consistent basis. His redeployment by Ralf Rangnick on the left wing instead of the right has seen him look more comfortable and deliver the quality that Manchester United saw him deliver week in week out in Germany.

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Anthony Elanga, seemingly “Rangnick’s youngster” as McTominay was Mourinho’s and Martial was Van Gaal’s. The Swede is in good form, having scored against both Leeds and Atletico Madrid. Elanga seems to be stepping up for the side as Marcus Rashford navigates a spot of poor form. It will be interesting to see whether or not he starts against Watford.

For Watford, the ones to watch would be Josh King and Ismaila Sarr.

Josh King, former Red, for the sole reason that for some reason he always gives off the feeling that he will score against Manchester United. Ismaila Sarr on the other hand is a dangerous winger and will be instrumental to Watford’s counter attacking opportunities.

Predicted XI

David De Gea;

Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles;

Bruno Fernandes, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba;

Anthony Elanga, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho;

Time to show consistency game after game

Overall, it’s hard to deny that team performances have improved under the guidance of Ralf Rangnick. However, it’s been a choppy process to say the least.

In some games, the team has continuously conceded ridiculously silly goals. In other games, they have been absolutely unable to find the back of the net (even in situations when there was a virtually open goal!)

This is a side in the relegation zone and a side that humiliated United earlier on in the season, the players should need 0 motivation to want to put them to the sword.

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After the abject first half performance in Madrid, a resounding victory is required ahead of a trip across town to face the league leaders in the next fixture.

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