This particular section of this particular preview will make for sweet reading for Watford fans. Five games, five wins. Including a win over Spurs last time out that stripped them of their 100 per cent record. In fact, their last defeat in all competitions came against Manchester United on the final day of the previous season.
From a United perspective, the good ship Mourinho was righted slightly by a win over Burnley last time out. However that result is nowhere near enough to cover the cracks. Insipid performances followed by doom, gloom, and guffaw from their manager have produced a run of two defeats and two wins in the league.
Watford have an added competitive fixture under their belt thanks to their 2-0 win over Reading in the Carabao Cup. A win for the Hornet’s would be a club record of 5 consecutive league wins to start a campaign.
It would be of no surprise to see one of the Premier League’s more direct games take place at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening. It was the remedy to United’s woes when they bounced Burnley at Turf Moor, as it was Watford’s route back to parity and ultimately the match win against Tottenham.
Despite the rosy nature of life at Vicarage Road lately, things may take a turn this weekend. They have an appalling recent record against United – Played 13, lost 12, won 1. And an equally appalling one against José Mourinho – Played 6, lost 5, won 1. That solitary game on both counts came in 2016 when a 3-1 defeat prompted Mourinho to begin what would be a two year crusade of sorts against Luke Shaw.
All of the above being respected, Javi Gracia has Watford playing better than at any point in the recent years from where these results have emanated. Similarly, Manchester United are not firing on all cylinders simply because they beat Burnley at Turf Moor.
On closer inspection, Burnley have not been the pressing, organised proposition they normally represent, and United benefited from that. Watford however, very much are that team at the moment. Can United control a side like the Hornet’s, filling midfield, pushing their full backs on, applying themselves with their full energy? On the evidence of their performance against Brighton, the answer would be no.
Of course, on the evidence of their squad on paper and record over the Hornets the answer would be a resounding yes.
Javi Gracia nearly has a full hand to play against United this weekend. Watford will have to do without the services of Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu, otherwise they are in full health. In terms of potential changes to the starting line-up, it seems unlikely their manager will deviate from a team that’s been unchanged since the first day of the season.
For United, Luke Shaw is still a possible participant despite suffering a concussion after his collision with Spain’s Danny Carvajal while on international duty with England. Maroune Fellaini has a back complaint after rejoining from the Belgian squad, and Phil Jones is still out as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Diego Dalot and Sergio Romero may come back into contention after respective knee knocks.
United at a shade of odds-on looks poor value considering recent form, Watford, currently 10/3 for the win at Bar One Racing will have to overcome a wealth of negative history against United.
This will likely be a competitive game, both sides have found the back of the net in any game they’ve played this season (except Utd v Spurs), and neither side can claim to have a water tight defence with just one clean sheet between the two sides in the league so far – Watford v Brighton (2-0) on the opening day of the season.
Both teams to score in a draw looks value at 13/8 all things considered.