Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Prediction: Manchester United vs Watford

Verdict: Manchester United win and both teams to score

Best Odds: 15/8

Bookmaker: Bet365

As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reign as permenant manager gets underway, Manchester United will host FA Cup semi-finalists Watford at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

Manchester United

Starting with the hosts, despite Manchester United crashing out of the FA Cup at the hands of Wolves prior to the international break, their impressive resurge under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seen the Norweigan icon handed the permanent job at Old Trafford. With their sights firmly set on securing a top-four finish and a Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona to look forward to next month, it has been United’s continued performances on home soil really starting to catch the eye. The Red Devils are unbeaten in 12 Premier League matches at Old Trafford, a run that stems all the way back to a defeat against Tottenham back in August. Although United have shown a newfound attacking identity under Solskjaer and have scored two or more goals in seven of their last eight matches in front of their own fans there are still some defensive issues that need resolving. The Reds have failed to record a single clean sheet in any of their five matches across all competitions and have kept just a single Premier League clean sheet at Old Trafford in 2019.

Team News

Solskjaer will assess the players who withdrew from international duty because of injuries.

Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial could all be fit, but Romelu Lukaku is expected to remain sidelined by a foot problem.

Watford

As for the visitors, although Watford may have lost their last two away matches against Liverpool and Manchester City the mood in Javi Garcia’s camp will be soaring. Booking their spot in the semi-final of this year’s FA Cup and a showdown with Wolves next month, the Hornets will also be firmly believing they can secure European football for Vicarage Road next season. Now sat eighth in the table and with the chance to potentially leapfrog Wolves to seventh spot this weekend, the former Malaga boss will be looking for the inform Gerard Deulofeu to carry on what is becoming a very productive run of form. Finding the net at the Etihad prior to the international break, the 25-year-old has four goals and two assists in his past four league appearances. While the confidence in their camp will certainly be on a high, Watford will have to find a way to end their woeful run against established top six opposition if they are to pull of a surprise victory at Old Trafford. The Hornets have lost 13 successive Premier League away games against the established top six sides.

Team News

Watford’s former United midfielder Tom Cleverley is out with a calf injury.

Jose Holebas has overcome the problem that forced his substitution during the FA Cup win against Crystal Palace.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Manchester United have won 15 of the past 16 meetings in all competitions, losing the other game 3-1 in the Premier League at Vicarage Road in September 2016.
  • Watford are winless in all 11 away league visits to Manchester United (D2, L9). However, they did beat United at Old Trafford in a League Cup tie in October 1978.
  • Watford have lost 16 of their 17 away games in Manchester since beating City 2-1 in April 1987.
  • Watford have suffered consecutive away league defeats for the first time this season, albeit they were against Liverpool and Manchester City.
  • United have kept just two home clean sheets in the Premier League this season – only Fulham, with one, have a worse record.

Conclusion

While Manchester United might be coming off the back of a pair of defeats prior to the break, the mood around Old Trafford will certainly be on after Solskjaer permanent arrival. With Watford holding a torrid record against the Premier League’s elite, we’re backing the Reds to come away with the three points on Saturday. However, as United have managed to record just a single home clean sheet in 2019, we’re backing Watford to come away with a consolation goal.

Verdict: Manchester United win and both teams to score 

Best Odds: 15/8

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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