Watford head into their showdown with Manchester United on Tuesday night having recorded back-to-back victories in the Premier League, results which see the Hornets sitting in eighth place in the standings.
United make the trip to Vicarage Road still facing an eight-point gap to leaders Manchester City, but Jose Mourinho's side have now established a cushion ahead of the teams who are also competing for second place.
When Marco Silva began to be linked with the vacant job at Everton, many would have expected the off-the-field distractions to lead to the Hornets extending their losing streak past three games after letting slip a two-goal lead against the Toffees before the international break.
However, a meeting with out-of-form West Ham United came at the right time and after a relatively comfortable 2-0 win, Silva was able to watch on as his side produced arguably their display of the season to cruise to a 3-0 triumph away at Newcastle United.
The Magpies had also been struggling for results, but Watford did not have to get out of second gear against one of their rivals for a top-10 spot, and expectations are continuing to rise with each success in the Premier League.
The improvement in form has coincided with the introduction of Will Hughes, who did not make his top-flight debut until October 28, but the former England Under-21 international has opened the scoring against both the Hammers and the Magpies, setting his new team up for six points and two clean sheets.
Richarlison continues to sparkle in attack with the 20-year-old Brazilian having now contributed either a goal or an assist in six of his last eight outings in the league, and an eye-catching display against United would only further enhance his stock as more teams become interested in his signature, despite being just under four months into a five-year contract.
The weight will be off Andre Gray's shoulders having ended a two-month wait for a goal, but Silva will still be expecting more of a contribution from a player who cost the club £18m during the summer.
Recent form: WLLLWW
Saturday's 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion would not have been what Mourinho was looking for after claiming that his side were full of "ambition", but the triumph over the newly-promoted team came at a time when the club's rivals were faltering elsewhere.
Manchester City's late winner at Huddersfield Town was a blow, but Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all dropped points over the weekend and the Portuguese will be delighted that his team now have an opportunity to strengthen their hold of second spot.
With Arsenal and City to follow in the next two weeks, the clash with Watford takes on greater importance but United are heading into the match having suffered back-to-back defeats to Chelsea and Basel away from Old Trafford.
Losing at Huddersfield is also fresh in Mourinho's memory and with United having only recorded one point from their last three games in the Premier League, a win at Vicarage Road feels imperative.
The match comes just three days after Paul Pogba completed his first 90 minutes since September 9, and although regarded as a key part of the team, do not be surprised to see the French star starting this game on the sidelines having started three matches in the space of a week after a hamstring injury.
However, Mourinho may regard the match as an opportunity to hand Zlatan Ibrahimovic a place in the starting lineup for the first time since April, despite Romelu Lukaku avoiding a three-match ban for his part in an incident with Brighton & Hove defender Gaetan Bong.
Recent form: DLWLWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWLW
Mourinho must decide whether to hand a recall to Henrikh Mkhitaryan after the Armenian playmaker made an appearance off the bench against Brighton.
The possible selections of Pogba and Ibrahimovic are likely to be left until the last moment, but Marcos Rojo could come back into the team as the defender continues his comeback from a serious knee injury.
Barring any late fitness issues, Silva could select the same side which began their triumph in the North-East, with the returning Troy Deeney - who has served a three-match ban - likely to be on the bench.
Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Prodl; Feminia, Hughes, Doucoure, Cleverley, Zeegelaar; Richarlison, Gray
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Young; Matic, Herrera, Fellaini; Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku
Head To Head
Tuesday's match will represent just the 29th meeting between the two clubs, with United winning 18 times in comparison to just the five victories for Watford.
The Hornets hold an abysmal recent record against the North-West giants, with 12 of 13 matches since 1987 ending in defeat, but the Hertfordshire-based outfit did prevail in the reverse fixture last season.
We say: Watford 1-2 Manchester United
Watford have been excellent during their most recent two matches, but we must remember that they have not always impressed in front of their home supporters. United have lost twice on their travels this season, but we think that the quality of their squad will ensure that they emerge victorious from a fiercely-fought contest.
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