Watford host Manchester United in their midweek Premier League fixture. The Hornets have been one of the surprise packages of the season so far and will be in the mood for some giant slaying on Tuesday night.
Marco Silva’s Watford will be coming off the back of a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Newcastle United last weekend and will test themselves to make it three wins out of three on Tuesday.
Manchester United won in a different fashion against Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend compared to what we have been used to this season. A Brighton own goal was enough to give Jose Mourinho’s men the three points.
Two defeats in the last month have meant that United have fallen behind league leaders Manchester City. A win against Watford will be needed in order to maintain the chase for the title.
Here are how both teams are shaping up ahead of this clash…
Manchester United fans will not have to think long to recall a victory against Watford. But Watford fans will hope that their players can recreate the success they found last year when they managed a 3-1 victory over the Red Devils in September 2016.
A first half goal from Etienne Capoue put Watford ahead as the Frenchman scored his fourth league goal in five games. It wasn’t until the second half that United could find an equaliser through a close range finish from Marcus Rashford.
Camilo Zuniga restored Watford’s lead less than a minute after coming off the substitutes’ bench. Finally, a 90th minute penalty converted by Troy Deeney sealed the three points for the Hornets.
This was Watford’s first win over Manchester United since 1986. They had lost all 11 of the previous meetings since then. Meanwhile, defeat for Jose Mourinho meant that he had lost three matches in a row for the first time since he managed Porto in 2002.
Romelu Lukaku vs Christian Kabasele
Watford are on a run of two consecutive clean sheets – their best streak since September. Since Marco Silva has adapted Watford’s defence into a back three, they have been a stronger unit defensively.
Christian Kabasele has been a regular feature in this back three and, with the possibility that teammate Miguel Britos being injured for this tie, will lead Watford’s back line. They will be tasked with nullifying Man Utd’s main striker Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku has been on a bit of a goal drought of late. The Belgian forward has just one goal in his last six league games, after scoring seven in the previous seven.
The United number nine will be looking to get back into some sort of scoring form soon, and perhaps faces a difficult test to prove himself in this confident Watford defence.
Richarlison vs Antonio Valencia
The standout player for Watford this season is undoubtedly Richarlison. The Brazilian has five goals and five assists in the league so far, making him Watford’s most productive player.
Often of the left of Watford’s attack, his opposition in the defence will come in the form of Antonio Valencia for Manchester United.
Valencia has played every minute of United’s Premier League campaign this season, keeping nine clean sheets in the process. As one of Mourinho’s most reliable defenders, Valencia will be tasked with keeping Richarlison quiet.
If United can successfully keep Richarlison out of the game, they will quash much of Watford’s attacking threat.
Watford captain Troy Deeney is available for selection after completing a three match suspension for violent conduct. Miguel Britos faces a late fitness test after picking up a knock against Newcastle.
Sebastian Prodl could replace Britos in defence and will be in contention for his first Premier League start since August. Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah, and Isaac Success remain ruled out.
Romelu Lukaku has escaped disciplinary action after an altercation with Brighton defender Gaeten Bong. Marcos Rojo could make his Premier League return after featuring in the Champions League last week.
Eric Bailly is close to a return from a groin strain but could still miss out on Tuesday. Phil Jones is progressing but will not be available due to a thigh injury.
Potential Watford Starting Lineup: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Prodl; Femenia, Cleverley, Doucoure, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Deeney
Potential Manchester United Starting Lineup: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Young; Pogba, Matic, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Martial; Lukaku
Watford have managed results against Arsenal and Liverpool so far this season, and Marco Silva is sure to be relishing the idea of getting a result at Manchester United too.
Mourinho will be aware that he has games coming up against Arsenal and Manchester City, and a slip-up against Watford may cost them dearly in the future.
With Man Utd returning to a full strength squad, the ability that their players have may ultimately be slightly too much to handle for this inform and free-scoring Watford side.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Manchester United