February 21, 2020
Manchester United welcome Watford to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get the better of Nigel Pearson’s side after their defeat back in December 2019, seeking to keep their chase on a place on the top four alive after their victory over Chelsea on Monday evening, which cut the deficit from six points to three points. Chelsea welcome Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, which could see United push closer.
After their 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Monday evening, United were back in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday evening, drawing 1-1 with Club Brugge – the third time they had faced the Belgian club – the last time being during the 2015/16 season in the UEFA Champions League qualification rounds. Solskjaer’s side may be boosted by the result as he rested many of his first team players but will be seeking to kick on in the Premier League to keep their top four finish dreams alive.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Watford in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish number one was rested against Club Brugge on Thursday evening so after playing on Monday, he will be ready to play again on Sunday. Over the past few matches, De Gea has been playing well and seems to be showing signs of finding his form once again, which is great news for United. If he can lead from the back and find his best form, United will be able to achieve their goals easily.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Eric Bailly were both rested against Club Brugge on Thursday evening. Having both players back in the team, in a back four, will be something that Solskjaer may be looking to put together for the visit of Watford. Harry Maguire, the club captain will start with Brandon Williams keeping his place in the team, reverting to a left-back, rather than a left-wing-back, although Luke Shaw playing in the back three may be a loss based on the formation that has been used in recent matches.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Fred
The midfield has been a problem area for United of late with the injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay. The latter may well be back in action in some form or other in this game, which will be great to see. Playing in a midfield three with Fred and Nemanja Matic, McTominay would add something to this United squad, allowing Bruno Fernandes to play further forward and spark the creation for the attacking players.
Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes
The Portuguese midfielder is a great asset for the club with his creative spark and his eye for driving the club forward. United have been lacking creativity throughout the season and could do with everything to fall into place, especially for this match. United have been poor against the bottom teams in the Premier League this season and they need to overcome that after beating or drawing against many of the teams above and around them. Fernandes could do a lot in this team for the remainder of the season.
Forwards: Anthony Martial, Odion Ighalo
United now have some strength-in-depth in the attacking areas of the team. Granted it is not great with both Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood on the sidelines through injury but it is better having an extra player available to use and gain something from. Anthony Martial scored United’s only goal against Club Brugge on Thursday evening and Odion Ighalo has not yet started a game for United, playing in two of them this week. Utilising both players against Watford could be the answer to some of United’s problems.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Daniel James
United will need players available on the bench to get something from the game if they cannot find any inspiration from the players on the pitch. Sergio Romero, who played against Club Brugge will be the substitute goalkeeper with Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw the other defensive player available. Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Daniel James could add some attacking inspiration in different positions, should they be needed.