Newly-promoted Watford takes on perennial powerhouse Manchester United at Vicarage Road on Saturday, November 21st. Manchester United is still in 4th place, just one point behind Leicester City, while Watford are 11th place and 8 points behind the Red Devils.
Watford came up short against Leicester City, 1-2, at the King Power Stadium on November 7th as the Foxes’ built an early 2-0 lead that the Hornets could not overcome. Yellow Army captain Troy Deeney managed to punch in one with a penalty kick at the 75th but it was the closest Watford could come in the match.
Hornets’ defender Sebastian Prödl limped off just three minutes into Austria’s 2-1 defeat to Switzerland last night due to a calf injury. The towering centre-back, who hasn’t featured for Watford since the Golden Boys’ 3-0 defeat against Arsenal, started the friendly but was quickly brought off after feeling pain in his left calf. He is unlikely to be fit for the Hornets’ game against Manchester United on Saturday but will be assessed on his return to Watford’s London Colney training ground.
The Red Devils blanked struggling West Brom, 2-0, at Old Trafford also on November 7th to enter the international break on a winning note after two straight drawn matches. Seldom-used winger Jesse Lingard and attacking midfielder Juan Mata provided the goals for Louis van Gaal’s side at the 52nd and 90th+1 marks after a goalless first half as well.
With a new attacking lineup composed of Lingard, Mata, and Anthony Martial, the Red Devils’ scoring chances have improved and it looks like they will continue to do wonders in this game versus the Hornets.
However, Manchester United are waiting to see whether up to eight players, including Anthony Martial, will miss Saturday’s trip to Watford.
• Manchester United have won all four previous Premier League meetings between the sides, and the last nine in all competitions.
• United have won on their last four visits to Vicarage Road in all competitions.
• Watford have not suffered back-to-back defeats so far in this season’s Premier League.
• Eleven of the 12 league goals they have conceded this season have come in the second half.
• The Hornets have scored an average of 0.92 goals a game, the second-lowest figure in the top flight.
• Odion Ighalo has scored seven Premier League goals this season – only Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has more.
LEAGUE HEAD TO HEAD:
FA Cup 2006/2007
1 – 4 Manchester United
Premier League 2006/2007
4 – 0 Watford
Premier League 2006/2007
1 – 2 Manchester United
Premier League 1999/2000
2 – 3 Manchester United
Premier League 1999/2000
4 – 1 Watford
Premier League 1987/1988
0 – 1 Manchester United
WATFORD – Heurelho Gomes
If Martial is declared fit to play, then the trio of Martial, Mata and Lingard will prove to be extremely hard to keep at bay, and that is where Gomes’ true test lies.
Gomes has been a model of consistency since joining the Hornets from Tottenham almost 18 months ago, but he held his hands up and accepted blame for the defeat against Leicester City, taking to Twitter to apologise.
Sanchez Flores, however, said: “There’s no need to be sorry. When we come back he will be the same, back to normal. He is part of the soul of the team and is an amazing leader in the dressing room. More than any other day we support him because we love this player.”
This will be his big ticket to redemption if he manages to keep a clean sheet against the Red Devils.
MANCHESTER UNITED – Jesse Lingard
It would be fantastic if Lingard made a proper breakthrough and became a United regular. There are not the worries about his attitude as there were with some previous promising youngsters. He’s also seen each of his 2011 FA Youth Cup-winning peers leave the club, so he knows he’s dispensable.
Louis van Gaal’s preference for working with young and malleable talent is well documented, but finding the right player at Manchester United has not been so straightforward. Jesse Lingard’s impact, however, has changed the mood at Old Trafford in more ways than one.
After a lively performance in the midweek victory over CSKA Moscow, Lingard produced the key moment of quality in the weekend win over West Brom. Trapping the ball with his studs, he proceeded to deliver a measured finish that guided the ball into the bottom corner of Boaz Myhill’s net and end United’s 260-minute wait for a Premier League goal.
As well as making more tackles than any of his team-mates, it’s worth noting that there is a responsible element to Lingard’s game too. He held his position and kept the ball well against West Brom. In fact, he currently has the best passing accuracy of any United player in the final third of the pitch. That’s vital if he is to flourish in a Van Gaal team.
If Lingard manages to score a goal or two in the game against Watford, then he might just become a regular.
I predict a 2-1 victory for Manchester United. There is very little United could do to lose this game, and it will prove to be a very good chance for Lingard to show his worth.