Manchester United vs Watford

Pre-Match Analysis:

On Wednesday 2nd March Manchester United go up against Watford in the Barclays Premier League. For United this game serves as a chance to continue to put pressure on Manchester City and the top four, whereas for Watford this is a chance to further build upon what has been a very good return to the top flight.

This midweek game comes off the back of a superb week for the club, overturning a 2-1 deficit against FC Midtjylland to progress in the Europa League, and also a scintillating display against Arsenal. These two wins have really offered a big glimmer of hope in a, quite frankly, dismal season so far where the Reds have struggled massively and have been their own worst enemy at times.

Another boost for the Reds could be the return of two of this seasons stand out performers, Chris Smalling and Anthony Martial. Smalling has been a rock at the back for almost 2 seasons now, and whenever he is absent it is a huge miss. Smalling adds a sense of security and determination that none of our other defenders seem to be able to bring to the table. Should Chris regain his fitness in time, I would expect him to feature. Another possible return is the young French forward, Anthony Martial. Martial has been exceptional this year, and at times he has been literally our only threat on the attack, as is the extend of our goal scoring issues. Again, if he is fit I would expect him to participate at some point.

The other big question that will be posed is whether Marcus Rashford will be in the team again. Rashford has been simply astonishing since is emergence against FC Midtjylland and he really does add something to the attacking lineup. However, with Martial possibly coming back and Memphis finding a bit of form, it will be interesting to see how he fits into the team.

United go into this fixture having already played out a very tense, high pressure game at Vicarage Road with United narrowly taking the spoils on that day after Bastian Schweinsteiger managed to force the ball over the line just minutes from the final whistle. I would expect another game of this calibre on Wednesday as Watford will be coming to Old Trafford in the hope that they can steal a point or maybe even three, and they wouldn't be the first team to do so this season.

Again, it's difficult to predict the team that Van Gaal will pick due to the onslaught of injuries we have within the squad currently, however I would like to see Rashford and Varela feature again as they have been wonderful recently and I'd love to see them continue the rich vain of form they both find themselves in.

I think that this game will feature less goals than we saw against Arsenal, so I'm predicting a 2-1 United win, however Watford are by no means an easy side, and we must treat them with the upmost respect in order to ensure we don't get complacent.

United have a chance to make it 3 wins on the bounce here, and hopefully this is a sign of better things to come.

COME ON UNITED!

Line-Up Analysis:

Manchester United's line-up to face Watford has been revealed and looks solid enough to get the job done tonight. David de Gea obviously retains his starting place in goal for United, with his form being brilliant this season. Young right-back Guillermo Varela starts after having a stunning breakthrough season in which the young Uruguayan has burst onto the scene at Old Trafford following a loan spell at Real Madrid last season that earned him praise from manager Zinedine Zidane. Argentinian Marcos Rojo is in the XI despite worry over a knock on a welcome boost for United. Daley Blind will partner him and United will value his composure and ball-playing abilities that can help speed up the build-up from defense to attack. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is highly-rated amongst those who follow United's academy and is rewarded with a start by LvG after performing well in his debut against Arsenal.

Meanwhile in the midfield, Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin starts in the midfield two alongside Ander Herrera as the pair hope to provide a balance between a powerhouse in Schneiderlin and Herreras ability to supply key passes to those in front of him. Juan Mata starts as captain for the first time and he hopes he can continue his recent form after a below-par start, and is set to do so as he will be granted an extended run in the central attacking midfield role. Memphis Depay came to England with all the promise and potential to light up the league, but has been far from consistent. He's been breathtaking to watch recently and looks full of confidence once more. Anthony Martial returns from injury and goes straight into the XI as the young talent prepares for another game and will be the main part of United's attack due to his blistering pace and great skill combined with brilliant finishing. Marcus Rashford has blown everyone away with his four goals in two games against Midtjylland and Arsenal and will be hoping for more of the same against Watford tonight.

First Half Analysis:

We were coming into this game 3 points behind 4th placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand. We needed to go out there and carry on our recent run of good form.

In the first 15 minutes neither team really got going, with both goalkeepers having a quiet start to the game. As we went into the next 15 minutes off the first half United upped the pace of the game, with Memphis Depay having a couple of shots, both wide of the mark. Odion Ighalo also went close a couple off times for Watford.

As we went into the final moments of the first half, Odion Ighalo burst through the United defence, 1 v 1 with David De Gea with the Spaniard making a great save to keep the score at 0-0. The first half was not very exciting or entertaining with Watford having the best chance of the half. The first half ended 0-0.

Second Half Analysis:

An another quite shocking second half performance from United. How is it possible that United were on the back foot since the ref blew the whistle indicating the start of the half? For the first 25 minutes of the half Watford were untouchable, they had everything; nice passing, good hold up play, men in the box but they couldn't find the goal luckily for United.

The defence was shaky and I would class this as Blind's worse performance this season as a CB. He couldn't hold a finger against either Ighalo or Deeney. Ighalo was too fast and too skilful while Deeney was too strong for Blind. Fosu Mensah, who started his first ever premier league and first ever start for the Red Devils showed signs of strength but that's about it. Varela was the pick of the defenders today and showed great attacking threat making lethal runs going forward and on multiple occasions supplying the attackers with the pass they used to shoot. He also didn't let Capoue get the better of him. Rojo also in my opinion should've played in centre back with Blind but he did OK as a LB and linked up frequently with Depay.

Schneiderlin bossed the midfield and was a great cover for his CBs. He proved that he can be a rock in that midfield and showed that he is able to become one of the best holding midfielders in the league.

The goal came from a free kick which was superbly taken by Mata but it begs the question to be asked: why didn't he take the others before? Mata did show signs of him having his shooting boots on today, while Martial having just come back from injury was poor.


Individual Player Performances:

Goalkeeper and Defence:

David De Gea - 8
Good game from our number 1 who made the required saves once called upon

Varela - 7
Good game from the young varela again solid defensively and attacking.

Blind - 5
He had a very poor game he lost the ball way to many times and he was losing every duel he had.

Fosu Mensah - 6
For starting his first game he looked alright a little shaky and reckless at times.

Rojo - 7
A good return from Marcos Rojo probably my man of the match.

Midfield:

Schneiderlin - 8 
Breaking up play and making vital interceptions as usual

Ander Herrera - 6
He tried hard to get forward and defend but wasn't at his best

Juan Mata - 9
He was man of the match for us today, managing to get the winner. Once again in the number 10 role he was pulling the strings. 

Attack:

Memphis - 6
He lost the ball a few too many times and was taking a few silly shots that were going wide.

Rashford - 7
He was trying to get in behind with his pace and looked threatening at times but we don't want to put too much pressure on an 18 year old.

Martial - 6
He wasn't really effective today on the RW but was still a good addition to our squad

Overall Analysis:

Lets be honest, despite the fact that we didn't deserve to win the match today, we managed to clinch the victory thanks to a perfect free kick from our captain, Juan Mata. After some delightful performances against Arsenal and Midtjylland, we expected to play Watford off the field today. This was obviously a mistake as Watford managed to stick to their game plan and put pressure on us when we were in possession. We underestimated the opponents today and we cannot afford to do this again.

In terms of stand out performances, nobody really showed the same amount of passion that they did on Sunday. For the majority of the game today, the attitude was poor and we didn't show good character. However, when we realised that we need to step things up if we want to get anything out of the game, as a team, we upped the pressure and showed some desire for the game. One thing is for certain, if we want any silverware this season, we need to show that passion throughout the whole game.

In our next game, we travel to West Brom on Sunday in the Premier League and we aim to go there and snatch the three points on offer. This will not be an easy game, but it's a game that we must win if we want to get top 4. Next week is even more important as we also travel to Liverpool in the first leg of the Europa League last 16. This is a huge game as the Europa League is a competition which we are aiming to win! Lets hope we can continue our success from the last 3 games to our games next week. 

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