Scouting Manchester United Opponent: Watford Living The Dream

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Manchester United are back in action! On Saturday, they will play their first match after the international break and thus a new month of Premier League football will kick in. The opponents are Watford, the venue is Vicarage Road.

When the fans were looking at this fixture a month or two ago, this was just a regular match. A mid-table team hosting the great Red Devils and probably no one though this would be a match where Watford would be looking to reach the top of the Premier League standings. And yet, that is the reality.

Watford started the season brilliantly. They won all four of their opening fixtures and sit high in the table, as only the Hornets, Chelsea and Liverpool have maximum 12 points. After a 2-1 win against Tottenham, they will back themselves to do well once again.

Making The Most Out Of The Schedule

Three of their opening four matches were at home and now Watford will play in front of their fans once again. In the opening three matches, they played Brighton, Burnley and Crystal Palace, all of them being the sides a team of their stature can beat. And that is what they did – they took the most out of the nice schedule.

Watford played very well against Brighton on the opening day of the season. They won 2-0 without ever really putting the result in danger and neutralizing Pascal Gross very well. It was exactly the German who played a great game in Brighton’s 3-2 win over United. Against Burnley, they proved that Turf Moor is not a fortress anymore, scoring three times with three different players – Gray, Deeney and Hughes.

The match against Crystal Palace was a tougher one, as Hodgon’s side is really well organized and experienced and it was a match where the teams were of similar quality. But Roberto Pereyra and Jose Holebas managed to earn the third win of the season.

Over-scoring Their xG

A very common theme for all four of Watford’s matches is they were over-scoring their expected goals number. They scored nine goals so far, but were expected to score just 4.75 goals. That is a big overachievement that can happen on these shorter runs. It would be naive to expect Watford continue putting such numbers.

What this meant is that Watford were very clinical, sometimes even lucky, scoring from low-quality chances. Their xG per shot is 0.10, which is a good value for club like Watford, but they over-scored their xG in each of their four matches. Against United they might see the reality and fail to do as well going forwards.

Pay Attention To Jose Holebas

The Greek might be well over 30, but he is currently playing the season of his career. Holebas already has one goal and four assists to his name and will be poised to continue fine form running forwards into United’s right flank. He has been creating 2.25 chances per 90 minutes, which is a huge number and his dead-ball skills will be another thing United should pay attention to.

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