Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s last-ditch attempt to avoid sacking pits his Manchester United side against underperforming Watford at Vicarage Road.
The November international break has arrived at a perfect time for the Red Devils, handing them a fortnight to forget about the disheartening 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford earlier this month.
After two weeks of preparations, Man United will be gunning for all three points against out-of-sorts Watford, who have endured a torrid run of form of their own.
A keenly anticipated showdown in Hertfordshire gives Solskjaer no margin for error as speculation linking Zinedine Zidane with the coveted Red Devils job starts to gain momentum.
Watford vs Manchester United Head-to-Head
Man United boast a resounding 69% win ratio in top-flight matches against Watford, having won 18 of their 26 historical duels in English top-tier football (D4, L4).
Since the competition was rebranded in 1992, the Red Devils have inflicted more Premier League defeats on Watford (12) than any other side.
Though United have only lost two of their 14 Premier League clashes against the Hornets, both of those defeats have come in their last four encounters at Vicarage Road (W2).
Regardless of the outcome, attending fans could be in for a treat, considering that six of the seven Premier League meetings between these two sides at this venue have seen over 2.5 goals and both teams scoring.
Watford headed into the international break a mere two points clear of the drop zone after losing seven of their inaugural 11 Premier League fixtures this term (W3, D1).
New manager Claudio Ranieri, who has yet to ‘unpack’ his bags, is already under severe pressure, having lost three of his first four league matches in charge (W1), including the last two in a row.
The Italian has failed to reignite Watford’s attacking set-up, as his men have drawn a blank in three of their four top-flight games under his stewardship.
Indeed, the Hornets have failed to find the back of the net on more separate occasions (seven) than any other Premier League side this season.
However, they tend to go nuclear in front of goal after getting off the mark, netting 3+ goals in three of the four Premier League matches in which they got on the scoresheet.
Player to watch: Joshua King
Joshua King bagged a second-half hat-trick in Ranieri’s solitary Premier League triumph over Everton back in late October.
The Norwegian forward has also penetrated United’s backline in two of his last three top-flight appearances against the Red Devils.
Manchester United Preview
The under-pressure Solskjaer has found himself in a ‘make-or-break’ situation after carrying his Man United side to a single win in their last six Premier League outings (D1, L4). Man Utd at 8/15 odds to win this Saturday as per British bookmakers.
A tally of four points from their last six top-flight matches is United’s lowest over a six-game stretch since November/December 2015 under Louis van Gaal (three).
Talks about Zinedine Zidane’s appointment have intensified over the past few days, mounting more pressure on Solskjaer to deliver at Vicarage Road.
The Norwegian can draw inspiration from his side’s decent away form, as they’ve racked up three wins in their last four road trips in the Premier League (L1).
But as ridiculous as it may sound, the Red Devils have drawn their last three Premier League match-ups against newly-promoted sides, last going winless in four such contests on the trot in September 1997.
Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo
Bringing his previous Old Trafford stint into the equation, Cristiano Ronaldo has played his part in a whopping 104 goals across his 91 Premier League appearances against promoted teams.
The Portugal captain has amassed a staggering 83 goals and 21 assists in such match-ups, averaging a goal contribution every 73 minutes.
Watford vs Manchester United Predicted Line-ups
Watford (4-4-1-1): Ben Foster; Kiko Femenia, Craig Cathcart, Nicolas N’Koulou, Danny Rose; Ismaila Sarr, Tom Cleverley, Moussa Sissoko, Emmanuel Dennis; Joao Pedro; Joshua King.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Fred; Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Cristiano Ronaldo.