Watford claimed an impressive 3-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday, with Marco Silva’s side experiencing their joint best ever start to a top-flight campaign (21 points from 13 games). The Hornets have fared reasonably well against the ‘Big 6’ this season, beating Arsenal, drawing with Liverpool, and dominating for large portions of the match in their 4-2 loss against Chelsea last month – a flattering result for the Blues.
The Red Devils travel to Vicarage Road off the back of a somewhat disappointing 1-0 win over Brighton. A heavily deflected shot from Ashley Young proved enough to separate the two sides, yet United will be hoping for a better performance tonight if they are to remain within touching distance of league leaders Man City.
The big news from Old Trafford is that Romelu Lukaku will not face action from the FA for his alleged kick at Brighton defender Gaetan Bong. The possibility of a 3-match ban would have been a huge blow for United, with important matches against Arsenal and Man City on the horizon.
Jose Mourinho was full of praise for Lukaku following the Brighton game, claiming that the 24-year-old’s ‘fantastic attitude’ more than makes up for the undeniable fact that he has struggled for goals recently.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now made three appearances from the bench for the Red Devils since returning from injury last weekend. There have been plenty of discussions about how Ibrahimovic and Lukaku could fit into United’s starting XI, and with playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan currently out of favour, Jose Mourinho may be tempted to start one of the big strikers in the No. 10 role.
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are both expected to miss tonight’s match through injury, and Michael Carrick remains sidelined following a heart procedure.
Troy Deeney is set to make his return for the Hornets having served a 3-match ban. Isaac Success, Younes Kaboul, Nathaniel Chalobah, and Craig Cathcart are all out injured.
Possible Man United Starting XI:
Yesterday, Jose Mourinho said of Watford: “They have an unusual squad for a mid-table team,”
“They have a squad full of very good players who are not normal to be in these mid-table teams. They have a good coach. They have improved a lot from last season too.”
Many of the major sports news outlets have questioned United’s chances going into tonight’s match, and the Red Devils will be expecting a tough game. Smalling and Lindelof will have their work cut out for them dealing with in form Watford forward Richarlison, yet United certainly have the advantage in the middle of the park, with Paul Pogba giving two MOTM performances over his last three games. Lukaku will be hoping to get his name on the scoresheet again, but I’m backing Zlatan to bag his first of the season.