The 2018-19 Premier League season is back following a short break due to international fixtures. And Manchester United have a lot to play for.
Manchester United have registered two wins and two losses to start the campaign, and there are no double lectures here: that’s disappointing. With the eye on a bounce-back performances, The Red Devils will travel to Vicarage Road to take on one of the most surprising teams in the Premier League this season: Watford. The Hornets have won their first four games of the campaign, and will look to impress once again when they take on Jose Mourinho’s United. Mike Dean will be in charge of Saturday’s contest.
Despite the recent run of negative results, Manchester United have recovered several players in recent days since Antonio Valencia, Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic are all available. But Phil Jones (thigh) and Marcus Rashford (suspension) are out, while Marcos Rojo limped out of his latest game with the U23 side and seems as if he will be unavailable as well. Luke Shaw (concussion) and Marouane Fellaini (back) are not expected to play either, while Diogo Valot is lacking match fitness.
As for Watford, they won’t have former Manchester United academy graduate Tom Cleverley due to a calf problem, while Younes Kaboul has been ruled out with an ankle problem. Gerard Deulofeu has been listed as doubtful, and will require a late-fitness test to determine his availability closer to kick-off time.
Following a solid, yet unspectacular 2-0 win at Burnley the last time out, The Red Devils have won two and lost two of their first four league matches. The Red Devils began the 2018/19 campaign with a decent 2-1 win over Leicester City in the opening week, but then disappointed with consecutive losses – 2-3 at Brighton and 0-3 against Tottenham Hotspur at home. The win against Burnley calmed things a bit, but obviously, this is not good enough if United want to contend for the league title. Will they be able to end Watford’s impressive start to the season at Vicarage Road?
On the other hand, Watford have been nothing short of spectacular to begin the campaign. The Hornets are one of three teams – along with Liverpool and Chelsea – to win their first four games, and have set their sights on extending that run as long as they can. Watford began the campaign with a 2-0 home win over Brighton and later secured a 3-1 away win at Burnley. Not happy with that, they also defeated Crystal Palace (2-1 at home) and secured an impressive 2-1 win over Tottenham just before the international break. Will they make it five in a row here?
What happened the last time these two sides met in this venue?
Last season’s corresponding fixture ended in a 4-2 win for United back in November 28. Ashley Young (twice), Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard all found the back of the net in that match.
Manchester United have a huge supremacy against Watford. Since 1999, these two sides have met 12 times across all competitions, counting Premier League, FA Cup and Carling Cup. The Red Devils have won 11 of those games, and the remaining one ended in a Watford victory. In fact, Mourinho’s men have won the last three league matches, netting seven times and conceding two over that span.
At least on paper, Watford look like the stronger side based on their current form. But Manchester United have several players who can change the game with just one touch, one pass, or one run. It is not going to be easy for Mourinho’s team. However, Manchester United have what it takes to return home with three more points under their belts. And I expect them to do just that.