Manchester United will be aiming to secure their fourth win in the space of 10 days in all competitions when they face a Watford side that has only lost one of its last seven Premier League matches.
Given the lack of experienced options available and the number of unfamiliar names from the youth setup among the starting XI, not many gave Man Utd much of a chance of turning over Arsenal at the weekend, but they emphatically proved the doubters wrong with a dynamic performance that fully merited the three points. Stealing the show again was 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, who followed up his double against Midtjylland in the Europa League with another brace.
It is much too early to get carried away about Rashford, but the early signs are that as a centre forward he has good footballing intelligence and has that handy knack of being in the right place at the right time to seize upon any chance that falls his way. The only concern now is that there may be a little expectancy surrounding him, but his exploits have certainly gone some way to boosting the fortunes of under-fire boss Louis van Gaal, although a bad result here would sour the renewed optimism.
And the visitors have shown on multiple occasions this season that they are more than capable of upsetting the apple cart due to their resolute and determined style of play that has won them many admirers this season. Top scorer Odion Ighalo’s finishing was a little off as they contested a goalless draw with Bournemouth in their last game, but if he and Troy Deeney can link up with each other effectively, they should surely unsettle a patched up United defence.
The only real concern with Watford – highlighted again by Saturday’s result – is that there are very few goals in the team aside from those provided by Deeney and Ighalo. Many of their midfielders are of more of a defensive persuasion, so manager Quique Flores may look upon January signing Nordin Amrabat to ease the burden on them a little. He has shown promise early in his Watford career, and will relish his battle here with the fit again Marcos Rojo.
The home side will hope to have Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson back available, but are still without a number of first-team players.
Watford are unlikely to have Jose Manuel Jurado back available in time to feature, while they are definitely without defenders Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban.
Last Meeting: A convincing win for Man Utd in January 2007 was set up by a 20th minute penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo, punishing a foul by Jay DeMerit. After Chris Powell hit the post for visitors the game was put beyond them in the second half as Lloyd Doyley put through his own net, Henrik Larsson fired in his first Premier League goal and Wayne Rooney rounded things off with a stylish lob.
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