Watford vs Man Utd preview: Several concerns for visitors

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Watford vs Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.

Team news

Ozan Tufan will face a late fitness test ahead of Watford’s Premier League clash with Manchester United on Saturday.

The Turkey midfielder picked up a knock to the leg on international duty. Francisco Sierralta will miss out, having suffered a hamstring injury in action with Chile.

Christian Kabasele (hamstring) and Ken Sema (knee) are both still out injured, while Juraj Kucka will miss out through suspension.

Provisional Watford squad: Foster, Femenia, Cathcart, N’Koulou, Rose, Sissoko, Sarr, Bonaventura, King, Ngakia, Troost-Ekong, Cleverley, Masina, Fletcher, Bachmann, Hernandez, Pedro.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still has question marks over several United players as they return from the international break.

Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay withdrew from England and Scotland duty respectively while Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford did not join up with their squads due to injury concerns.

Paul Pogba would have missed this match through suspension either way but now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an injury suffered while with France, while Raphael Varane remains out.

Manchester United provisional squad: De Gea, Henderson, Lindelof, Bailly, Maguire, Dalot, Shaw, Telles, Wan-Bissaka, Mata, Lingard, Fred, Fernandes, Matic, Van De Beek, McTominay, Ronaldo, Martial, Rashford, Greenwood, Sancho.

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Take a look at our favourite stats ahead of Matchweek 12 in the Premier League

How to follow

Follow Watford vs Man Utd in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel from 5.15pm on Saturday.

Last time out…

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win against Watford

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Manchester United

Jones Knows prediction

I had to double check Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was still manager of Manchester United. I can confirm he is.

I also had to double check that United were genuinely as short as 4/9 with Sky Bet to win this game. I can also confirm they are.

Both situations confuse me.

United have lost four of their last six Premier League games, taking just four points from 18 available. The only win in that time was that 3-0 at Tottenham, who were so embarrassed at losing to this United side they went and sacked their manager. By not acting to solve the problem with their own manager, it screams to me that Manchester United board have all-but written this season off with the hope that the talent within the squad can haul them to a top-four finish.

It’s an achievable task but one that will need to be built around making themselves hard to beat – as they did with their set-up at Tottenham. However, judging by Solskjaer’s comments after the defeat to Manchester City, he wants them to return to a more open, aggressive style that made them very easy to create chances against. See the defeats to Leicester, Liverpool and Aston Villa for examples.

He said: “We’ve got to go back to being on the front foot, be more aggressive, maybe circumstances have made us a little bit more cautious and passive. We can’t, or I can’t, look at myself and say this is the way I want Manchester United to play.”

Even up against lowly Watford, Solskjaer’s talk will be music to the ears of Claudio Ranieri. He has the players to utilise space on the counter-attack – as seen in their 5-2 win over Watford. They can get a result here.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1

BETTING ANGLE: Watford to draw or win (13/8 with Sky Bet)

Opta stats

  • Watford have lost 12 of their 14 Premier League matches against Manchester United (W2) – against no side have they lost more.
  • In the top-flight, Manchester United have won 18 of their 26 matches against Watford (D4 L4), a win ratio of 69%. Among teams they’ve faced at least 20 times in their top-flight history, they only have a higher win ratio against Luton Town (73% – P30 W22).
  • No team has failed to score in more different Premier League matches than Watford this season (7). In the four games in which the Hornets have managed to find the net however, they’ve netted at least three goals on three occasions.
  • Manchester United are winless in three Premier League matches against newly promoted teams, drawing against West Brom, Leeds and Fulham last season. They haven’t gone four in a row without a win against such opposition since a run ending in September 1997 that saw them fail to beat Sunderland, Derby, Leicester and Bolton.
  • Watford have conceded at least once in each of their last 21 Premier League games – it’s their longest ever run without a clean sheet in the top-flight.
  • Manchester United have lost four of their last six league games (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 40 in the competition (W24 D12). Four points is Manchester United’s fewest over a six-game spell in the Premier League since November/December 2015 under Louis van Gaal (3).

Premier League Preview – Souness on ‘angry’ Liverpool’s point to prove vs Arsenal | Delph’s impressive return |Kane’s confidence boost

Peter Smith is joined by Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, and football writers Oliver Yew and Ben Grounds to look ahead to the Premier League weekend.

PART 1 | How will Liverpool respond after their first defeat of the season? Graeme Souness explains why they’ll be ‘full throttle’ against an Arsenal side who, he feels, are still a long way off, despite their recent unbeaten run

PART 2 | Oliver Yew and Ben Grounds look at the contrasting impacts of Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus this season, and discuss Fabien Delph’s surprise return to form with Everton, ahead of his side’s trip to a club he won two Premier League titles with

PART 3 | Harry Kane scored seven goals in two games during the international break but will that translate to the Premier League? We talk Tottenham ahead of Antonio Conte’s first home league game in charge, and explain the reasons behind Leeds’ slow start.

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