Man United to avoid mistake vs Watford and more to look out forSamuel LuckhurstWatford vs. Manchester United: Premier League live stream, TV channel, preview, start time, injury newsRoger Gonzalez
Date: Sunday, Dec. 22
Time: 9 a.m. ET
Location: Vicarage Road
TV channel: NBCSN
Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
Manchester United entered the weekend back in the top six in the Premier League but has its eyes on the top four when it goes to Vicarage Road to take on Watford on Sunday on Matchday 18. United is 6-7-4 with 25 points and just four points back of fourth-place Chelsea.
Watford, meanwhile, is the league’s worst team with a 1-6-10 record and nine points, currently sitting six points from safety with only nine goals scored and 32 conceded. Watford is on its third manager this season so far.Here’s everything to know about the game:Manchester United vs. Watford
Man. United: How did United follow up the wins over Tottenham and Manchester City? By drawing at home to Everton, of course. Then this team was tied 0-0 against Colchester in the EFL Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday. So pretty much, this result is in the range of a 3-0 road win to a 2-0 loss to the worst team in the league. You just never know what you’ll get with these Red Devils.
Watford: Absolutely massive game for Watford. The team is currently nine points back of safety, but a win here would be the absolutely fantastic energy-boosting result this team needs. With nine goals scored in 17 games, they have to take the few chances they get or else they’ll continue on their path to relegation.
Following the defeat at Bournemouth last month, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speculated whether he should have made changes to an unchanged league team. United were vibrant in the 3-1 stroll at Norwich six days earlier but the same XI were limp at the Vitality Stadium.
Eight days after the potential turning point at the Etihad, United returned to square one by drawing with Everton with an unchanged league XI. The same XI that eked out victory over Leicester were part of the seasonal nadir at West Ham and an unchanged side were humbled by Crystal Palace.
However logical it would be to keep the same side, it would also be complacent. Jesse Lingard’s limitations were exposed by Everton, Anthony Martial has scored one goal in his last six league appearances and Daniel James’s drought is ticking towards the four-month mark after three in his first four.
James’s productivity has hardly diminished (there were assists against Everton and City) overall and Martial netted in midweek. Lingard’s place might be in jeopardy again.Pereira to be picked?
Andreas Pereira complemented the front four at Norwich, where he enjoyed his finest performance of the campaign. His confident display in midweek was against League Two opposition but, in a squad devoid of an expert playmaker, the pass-the-parcel game could drop into Pereira’s hands again at Watford.
Early Boxing Day sales?Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones were excluded from the matchday 18 last week and Solskjaer admitted there was a slim chance of outgoings in January at United.
“There’s always a chance of it,” Solskjaer said of mid-season departures. “And I can say with 99.9 per cent sure they won’t go but there is always a chance teams will be interested in some of ours, maybe they’re not happy, haven’t played enough, so there might be a chance.”Matic and Jones could both miss the cut again. The latter has started four times this season and been substituted at the interval in his last three league starts.
If Jones has any aspirations of making a late run for the England European Championship squad then he needs to seek a mid-season move. Matic made a beeline for Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte in an interview with Tuttosport on Friday.Clean sheet?
United have not kept a clean sheet in their last 12 – their longest run without one for 48 years. They spent £125million on new defenders in the summer yet the improvement has not been reflected in the goals against column.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a near-impregnable right-back but Harry Maguire’s zenith in his short United career was on his debut against Chelsea. Watford have scored nine in league and five have come at Vicarage Road.
Will United finally capitalise?Had United beaten Everton and went onto win at Watford, they would have risen to fourth, for a couple of hours at the very least. Instead, they can only leapfrog Tottenham, who host Chelsea later today.
United have squandered opportunities to exert pressure already this season, be it going top in August or capitalising on the fecklessness at Arsenal. They need to start taking them if the Champions League logo is to grace the Old Trafford centre circle next season.