MX23RW : Tuesday, June 22 02:33:47| >> :120:11047:11047:
Feb 23, 2020 at 2pm UK at Old Trafford
Attendance: 73,347
Man UtdManchester United
Fernandes (42' pen.), Martial (58'), Greenwood (75')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Manchester United vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and Watford, including team news and predicted lineups.

Manchester United will be looking to build on Monday's impressive 2-0 victory at Chelsea when they welcome a struggling Watford to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

The Red Devils are currently just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the table, while Watford occupy 19th position having failed to win in their last four league outings.

Match preview

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial celebrates scoring against Chelsea in the Premier League on February 17, 2020© Reuters

There is no getting away from the fact that it has been an inconsistent season for United, but the team have pulled off some very impressive results during the 2019-20 campaign, including a 2-0 success away to Chelsea in the Premier League on Monday night, where Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire were on the scoresheet.

A defeat at Stamford Bridge would have left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's nine points off the top four, but the gap is just three heading into this weekend's fixtures despite the fact that Untied are still seventh in the table.

A record of 10 wins, eight draws and eight defeats has brought them 38 points, two points behind fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who travel to Chelsea in Saturday's early start. There is a chance that United could actually finish this weekend in the top four although other results would have to go in their favour.

In all competitions, the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last five, including a 1-1 draw away to Club Brugge in the Europa League on Thursday night. Indeed, Martial scored the second successive match to ensure that his team would pick up a positive result in the first leg of their last-32 tie.

Manchester United's Anthony Martial celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on February 20, 2020© Reuters

Fifth could yet be enough for a Champions League spot next season depending on what happens with Manchester City's two-year ban, while winning the Europa League would also be another route into Europe's premier competition, which would surely open up more possibilities for United in this summer's transfer market.

For all of the criticism aimed at Solskjaer, the Red Devils could yet enjoy a successful end to the season as they are also still in the FA Cup and will take on Wayne Rooney's Derby County in the fifth round of that competition on March 5.

The second leg of their Europa League clash with Brugge is next Thursday, meanwhile, and they will also travel to Everton in the league before the clash with Derby. Then comes the small matter of the Manchester derby at home to City on Match 8, showing the huge volume of matches on the horizon.

United will be the favourites heading into this weekend's contest, but both Crystal Palace and Burnley have beaten the 20-time English champions at Old Trafford in the league this season, while Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers have all picked up draws.

Watford boss Nigel Pearson on February 1, 2020© Reuters

Watford ran out 2-0 winners when they welcomed United to Vicarage Road in December, but the Hornets have incredibly never picked up a point in a Premier League match at Old Trafford.

Indeed, the capital side's only two Premier League wins over United have come at Vicarage Road, losing each of their six top-flight matches to the English giants in Manchester. That said, their two most recent games at Old Trafford have been close affairs, finishing 1-0 and 2-1 respectively.

Watford's two-goal success over United on December 22 saw them embark on a run which brought four victories and two draws from six matches to move clear of the relegation zone.

Nigel Pearson's side are without a victory since January 12, though, picking up just two points from their last four matches against Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Watford's Etienne Capoue in action against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on January 18, 2020© Reuters

As a result, the Hornets are down in 19th position in the table; their situation is far from terminal, though, as they are only one point behind Villa in 17th, while just three points separates them from Brighton in 15th.

Norwich City are going to find it difficult to escape the bottom three as they are six points adrift in 20th, but the likes of Watford, West Ham United, Villa, Bournemouth and Brighton are all in the mix above them. Even Crystal Palace in 14th are not safe with the Eagles struggling for form in 2020.

Only Norwich, Villa and Brighton have a worse away record than Watford this season, with the Hornets picking up just 10 points from their 13 matches on their travels. United, though, as mentioned above, have dropped points in seven of their 13 home Premier League games during the 2019-20 campaign.

It is not as if it gets any easier for Watford as they will follow this weekend's match with a home game against Liverpool on February 29, and the threat of relegation is still very much present despite Pearson's good work since taking charge of the club at the start of December.

Man United Premier League form: LWLLDW
Man United form (all competitions): LWWDWD

Watford Premier League form: WWDLLD
Watford form (all competitions): WDLLLD

Team News

Manchester United's Scott McTominay reacts on December 26, 2019© Reuters

United will again be without the services of key duo Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford through injury, but Scott McTominay has stepped up his recovery from a knee problem and could be involved.

Indeed, on Thursday, Solskjaer revealed that McTominay was in his thinking for the Watford clash, although it seems more likely that the midfielder will be named on the bench.

Mason Greenwood missed out against Brugge on Thursday through illness but should return to the squad, while Eric Bailly will also be hoping to overcome the knock that he picked up during an impressive performance against Chelsea.

Solskjaer could decide to select the same 3-4-1-2 formation that has proved successful in recent away matches, meaning that there could be a first start for Odion Ighalo.

The January arrival has appeared off the bench against Chelsea and Brugge but could be in line to feature alongside Martial in attack as Daniel James is currently struggling for form.

As for Watford, both Kiko Femenia and Ismaila Sarr have taken part in a full week of training ahead of Sunday's match, meaning that Daryl Janmaat is currently their only first-team player on the sidelines.

Sarr was excellent in the reverse match earlier this season, but Pearson has insisted that he will not take a risk on the attacker unless he is confident that the 21-year-old is fully over his hamstring issue.

There are not expected to be too many changes from the side that started against Brighton before the winter break, although Nathaniel Chalobah is pushing for a spot in the middle of midfield.

Troy Deeney will again lead the line with support from Abdoulaye Doucoure, with former United attacker Danny Welbeck expected to provide an option from the bench.

Man United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Matic, Williams; Fernandes; Martial, Ighalo

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Mariappa, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Chalobah, Capoue; Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu; Deeney

Head To Head

United lead the overall head to head 22 wins to Watford's six, while there have also been five draws in their 33 matches throughout history.

The two teams have locked horns on 13 occasions in the Premier League and Watford have only recorded two victories, both at home, losing the other 11.

The corresponding match last season proved to be Solskjaer's first since being appointed United's permanent boss, and the Red Devils secured a 2-1 victory courtesy of goals from Rashford and Martial.

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We say: Man United 2-0 Watford

These are the type of games where United have struggled this season, but Watford's record at Old Trafford suggests that the Hornets will find it tough this weekend. We are not expecting a match full of goals but fancy Solskjaer's side to put another important three points on the board.

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Watford boss Nigel Pearson on February 1, 2020
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