After a strong start to their season Manchester United find themselves on a two-game losing streak and Watford’s impressive four-goal comeback against West Ham on Saturday means the Red Devils need to be wary of Walter Mazzarri’s side.
18 September 2016
Kick-off: 19:00 (HKT)
Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: M Oliver
Assistants: A Nunn, M. McDonough
Fourth official: S. Attwell
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Watford 19 13 4 2
Man United 19 2 4 13
Manchester United 1-0 Watford – 02/03/16 (Premier League)
Manchester United goal-scorer: Mata (83′)
Players to watch:
Etienne Capoue has been in inspired form for the Hornets, netting an impressive three goals in four league matches from the centre of midfield. The 28-year-old Frenchman is brimming with confidence and will be looking to take advantage of any space created by the likes of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney.
Ighalo, last season’s top goal scorer at the club, is also starting to find his feet after a slow start to the campaign and netted in two of the last three games (including the League Cup loss to Gillingham).
For United, record signing Paul Pogba has taken criticism for recent performances and may feel his is due a big game, and a goal.
Wayne Rooney was left out of the squad for the midweek Europa League defeat to Feyenoord and will be looking forward to resuming duties. The England captain has gone three club matches without scoring, and with questions still being asked about his best position and even his future at Old Trafford, may feel he has a thing or two to prove.
Team form and manager quotes:
Watford have been inconsistent. After Walter Mazzarri’s side drew with Southampton on the opening day, they went on to lose to Chelsea and Arsenal in the league, and Gillingham in the cup. But they bounced back in fine style in their most recent outing – a 4-2 win at West Ham.
The Red Devils started with a bang, winning their first three league encounters. But the 2-1 derby loss to Manchester City last weekend and 1-0 defeat in the Netherlands on Thursday have put a damper on Jose Mourinho’s revolution.
Mourinho has admitted that defeats can drain the confidence of a team, and as such, is looking for some big performances from his experienced players.
“It is a new event, it is another match. It starts minute zero at 0-0 so I think it has nothing to do with the previous two matches,” he said.
“But obviously when you lose matches, the mood, the feeling, is not the same. That’s normal. But I think we are experienced players and the players are very good guys and I know they want to win and work, so that’s what we have to do.”
Mazzarri, who had a run-in with Mourinho while the two worked in Serie A, concedes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will pose a major threat, but does not want his players to lose focus of United’s other danger-men.
“Ibrahimovic is the type of player I call ‘eternal’ and ‘immortal’. I have played against him many times; he can make the difference on the pitch,” said the Italian.
“We will try as we always do with great players but I also want to add: its very important to keep in my mind Manchester United are not just about Ibrahimovic.
“[Wayne] Rooney, [Marouane] Fellaini; the whole squad, all of the players. They have a great squad and we have to be careful.”
Hornets striker Stefano Okaka is out with a hamstring injury which he picked up against the Hammers. Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prodl will undergo late fitness tests after also having hurt themselves in the comeback win at the London Stadium.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh) and Eric Bailly, who took a knock in the Europa League, are doubtful for the visitors. Rooney, Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw are back in the mix after being rested in midweek.