Football Previews

Man Utd v Watford: prediction, preview & how everyone thinks both teams will line up

By Ben Green

Published: 16:38, 29 March 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will take charge of his first Manchester United match as permanent manager when his side play host to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.

Following his sensational stint as interim coach Solskjaer was awarded a three-year contract as permanent manager of the Red Devils on Thursday.

With speculation regarding his future now put to bed, the Norwegian can put his sole focus in trying to achieve a top four finish in the Premier League this season.

The Red Devils welcome Watford to Old Trafford this weekend, but the Hornets have proven a tricky customer under Javi Gracia this term, and so three points is far from guaranteed.

Read on for Man Utd v Watford TV channel info, team news, predicted XIs and stats.

When is Man Utd v Watford?

Competition: Premier League

Venue: Old Trafford

Date: Saturday, 30 March

Kick-off: 3:00 PM GMT

Where can I watch live?

Man Utd v Watford will not be televised live in the UK.

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Man Utd have encountered Watford on 31 occasions since their first meeting in 1950, a 1-0 FA Cup win, and that pattern of play has been largely followed suit for the following 69 years with United considerably ahead in their one-on-one record with the Hornets.

Man Utd wins: 21 Draws: 5 Watford: 5

Match preview

All eyes will be on Solskjaer when he takes his position in the famous Old Trafford dugout for the first time as the club’s permanent manager.

However, once the carnival atmosphere of his arrival subsides and the referee blows his whistle for kick-off, United will need to get their heads down and focus on the task at hand.

Solskjaer’s job this season will be to clinch a top four finish; as things stand they are fifth and only two points adrift of current fourth-place occupiers Arsenal.

But after a scintillating start to his interim tenure, the club have hit a rocky patch, losing their previous two matches to Arsenal and Wolves, with the latter an FA Cup defeat.

Solskjaer will need to get his players back on track, but Watford won’t prove an easy task as Gracia has done a remarkable job to implement an organised and disciplined mentality into his side.

The Hornets are currently eighth and have won five of their last seven outings. Their record against the top six is generally poor but a shock win against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season shows the club are not averse to stepping up on the big occasion.

How everyone thinks both teams will line up

1. Rashford-Lukaku partnership to return

The Marcus Rashford-Romelu Lukaku front two partnership has proven extremely effective since Solskjaer stepped in, with the most notable of their appearances alongside each other coming against Paris Saint-Germain (3-1), Chelsea (2-0) and Southampton (3-2).

However, following defeat to Arsenal earlier this month, Solskjaer shuffled the pack and deployed Rashford alongside Martial for the 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Wolves.

With that the Evening Standard are predicting a return for the Rashford-Lukaku partnership with Martial dropping out of the starting XI. Lukaku has been enjoying the form of his life of late having scored six in his last four while Rashford has scored eight goals since Solskjaer took control.

Evening Standard’s predicted Man Utd XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic, Herrera, Pogba; Rashford, Lukaku, Pereira.

2. Gracia to stick

Watford have not only been very consistent with their 4-2-2-2 system this season, but very successful too. A double pivot of Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure has been a revelation at the base of midfield, while Gerard Deulofeu has flourished alongside Troy Deeney, with the duo’s synthesis between flair and aggression proving a deadly combination.

And sandwiched between them is Roberto Pereyra, who has been the talisman this season, while Will Hughes’ creativity and composure has massively complimented his Argentine counterpart of late.

As such, the Evening Standard believes Gracia will stick rather than twist, staying true to, not only the formation, but also the personnel that have yielded an FA Cup semi-final and eighth-place position in the league this campaign.

Evening Standard’s predicted Watford XI (4-2-2-2): Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina; Doucoure, Capoue; Hughes, Pereyra; Deeney, Deulofeu.

3. No room for Fred

There were signs that Fred may have been starting to find his feet after starring in Paris and then being afforded a starting berth against Arsenal, but the Brazilian ultimately conceded the penalty – albeit contentiously – that killed the game off in north London.

Solskjaer, therefore, opted to drop Fred for the trip to the Molineux, instead reverting to his favoured midfield trident of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic.

The move didn’t quite pay off in the West Midlands, but the Mirror believes Solskjaer will refuse to tinker, sticking with a 4-3-1-2 with Jesse Lingard being utilised in the No.10 role ahead of the aforementioned midfield trio.

The Mirror’s predicted Man Utd XI (4-3-1-2): De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Matic, Herrera, Pogba; Lingard; Martial, Rashford.

Team news

Solskjaer welcomes back a number of key names after Rashford, Luke Shaw, Matic, Lukaku and Martial all withdrew from international duty – they have all since returned to training and regained fitness.

Eric Bailly suffered a head injury whilst away with the Ivory Coast and may not be risked while Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian and Alexis Sanchez remain out.

Jose Holebas is back in contention after an ankle injury while former United midfielder Tom Cleverley misses out with a calf problem.

Squawka Prediction

Not only will Solskjaer want a reaction from the back-to-back defeats suffered, but he will want to kick start his permanent tenure with a win.

As mentioned, Watford are organised, industrious, and hard to break down, while they also offer a significant threat on the break, but they have largely come unstuck against the ‘big six’ so will likely struggle.

The Spaniard may opt to be a bit more adventurous and look to spoil the party, but United possess too much quality; and with matches against Man City and Chelsea coming up, this is a must win.

Man Utd 2-0 Watford