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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020
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FT: Watford 2-0 Man United

All over, and Watford win at home for the first time this season. At half-time this was a dreadful game; by the end it was just a dreadful United performance. 

United were complacent and disinterested at 0-0, two awful individual errors in four minutes then sent them 2-0 down, and the panicked onslaught yielded nothing. 

Yet again they lose to a side below them, which means they’ve taken twice as many points against the top four than they have against the bottom five. 

How many times do you turn a corner before you realise you’re just going around in circles? 

Fair play to Watford, they will have a real chance of staying up under Pearson. 

Thanks for following, bye! 

90+3′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Mata screws the free-kick tamely wide. Goodnight, United. 

90+2′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Cathcart booked for a hilariously cynical handball as the ball broke on the edge of the box for Rashford. He dived on it with both hands! 

90 + 1′ – Watford 2-0 Man Untied

Martial weaves into the box and shoots right at Foster. United are at leat working Foster now; why didn’t they do this before they fell 2-0 down? 

Three minutes to be added on. 

89′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Foster to the rescue, this time denying Rashfor after the striker spun and shot in the penalty area. 

86′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Oh, Mata dinks a ball over the top again, and Foster gathers with Rashford lurking and Kabasele falling clumsily to the floor. 

Sarr’s fine afternoon is put to an end as he is replaced by Isaac Success. See, Ed Woodward? It is possible to buy Success. 

85′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Pogba picks out Greenwood with another gorgeous ball over the top. The striker’s touch is immaculate but like Lingard earlier, he chooses to try and loft the ball over the advanced Foster and ends up spooning it way over the bar,. 

83′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Delefeou breaks clear but he is eventually stopped by Fred. United attack and Martial wriggles into some space in the box, but he’s denied by a flying Hughes block. 

82′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Foster denies Pogba! The Frenchman drives into the box and curls a shot to the far post which Foster palmed away, hitting Cathcart but not strongly enough to roll over the line! Much better from United. 

81′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Shaw fizzes a ball across the box which Cathcart diverts for a corner. Mata’s delivery is terrific but Maguire can only head right at Foster! 

77′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Pogba heads a Watford only as far as Pereyra, whose shot is blocked back to Feminia, who sees his long-range effort smothered by De Gea. 

75′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Pogba, for want of a better option, takes a pop from distance that’s right at Foster. 

Watford make a change, with Roberto Pereyra replacing Etienne Capoue. A pretty attacking move…

74′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Maguire wallops a pass for Shaw over the endline. United have been so bad today. 

73′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Terrific mazy run into the box by Delefeou is finally curbed by a Wan-Bissaka block, and Deeney’s follow-up is blocked clear too. 

72′ – Watford 2-0 Man United

Rashford tried to fool Foster by shooting for his near-post, but the goalkeeper was well-positioned and punches it clear. 

Juan Mata now on for United, replacing McTominay.

Watford must fancy their chances on the counter, now…

71′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Outrageous pass over the top of the Watford defence by Pogba finds Rashford, who is forced wide by Kabasele but wins a free-kick. 

69′ Watford 2-0 Man United 

Sarr’s shot in the box is well-blocked, and Watford’s attack is then thwarted by an offside flag. 

Doucoure is off,and replaced by Nathanial Chalobah.

67′ – Watford 2-0 Man United

Better from United: Shaw finally gets forward down the left and picks out a lovely pass to Martial, whose shot is blocked behind. The corner is cleared, and Greenwood can only head wide when a cross is then sent in from the opposite flank by Rashford. 

65′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Lindelof looks to pick out a late Pogba run into the box but it’s too high, even for Pogba mid-leap. 

63′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Watford counter three-on-two as United give the ball away yet again, but Sarr’s pull-back across the box is errant and right to a relieved Maguire. 

Pogba is now on, replacing Jesse Lingard. 

62′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

The corner is cleared as far as Will Hughes on the edge of the box, and he skies a volley into the stand. 

Here comes Pogba! 

61′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Delefeou shreds McTominay in the box and eventually wins a corner. 

59′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Mariappa wins a perfect slide-tackle on the edge of his own box on Rashford. 

57′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

The United reaction begins: McTominay fizzes a shot which Foster deals with. Dan James makes way for Greenwood. 

56′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

United have been shambolically torpid so far – whereas they snap into tackles with vim in big games against Liverpool and City, they were totally pedestrian in the first-half and two awful individual errors now leave them desperately chasing a game against the league’s worst team. 

55′ – Watford 2-0 Man United 

Here’s something to sum up what a mess United now find themselves in: Watford hadn’t even led in a home game all season prior to right now. 

Solskjaer readying Mason Greenwood..

GOAL! Watford 2-0 Man United (Deeney penalty, 53′) 

Deeney smashes the ball beyond De Gea, and United have imploded. 

PENALTY Watford!

Wan-Bissaka rashly and needlessly dives into a challenge, and Lee Mason points to the spot. The correct decision, total indiscipline from Wan’Bissaka. 

51′ – Watford 1-0 Man United 

Doucoure gets booked and will miss the game on Stephen’s Day as a result – every cloud and all that. The free-kick is hoisted deep and McTominay – onside – heads tamely at Foster at the back stick. 

GOAL! Watford 1-0 Man United (Sarr, 49′)

Oh my word, it’s a De Gea howler. Watford flight a free-kick into the box, the ball breaks for Sarr, who bounces a volley into the ground that is heading right into De Gea’s arms…until the ‘keeper inexplicably lets the ball slip through them and into the net. 

Dear oh dear. 

48′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Maguire hoists a pass for Rashford out of play. Dreadful stuff, but he was lacking options in United’s invisible midfield. 

46′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

McTominay clips a pass down the left for Rashford out of play. Seems like we’re picking up where we left off, so. 

We’re back underway! 

No changes for either side, as the Lee Mason’s whistle peeps after DaRude’s Sandstorm fades from the tannoy. 

HT: Watford 0-0 Man United 

Well that’s 45 minutes of our lives we aren’t getting back. A deeply, deeply mediocre game in which neither side have managed a single shot on target. 

We will be back in 15 minutes..in spite of the strong temptation to sack this game off and find happiness at the bottom of a selection box. 

But surely the second half can’t be as bad as that? 

45′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Cracking inter-play by Watford leads to a cross to Deeney with Lindelof does well to stab clear under big pressure. 

41′  – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Delefeou tracks back and dispossesses Wan-Bissaka to the applause of the home faithful. Seconds later he almost leaves Watford in a mountain of trouble by giving the ball to Lingard in the Watford box, but they ultimately get away with it. 

40′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Sigh. Zero shots on target so far. From either side. 

39′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Oooh, Doucoure glances a header a yard wide of De Gea’s back post, having picked out by a cross from Femenia on the left. 

38′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Hughes’ delivery is better but Maguire heads it clear. The ball arrives back into the box again and Maguire is forced to slam the ball out for a throw-in as Doucoure miscontrols. 

37′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Now Luke Shaw has been booked, for tugging back Sarr as he beat him down United’s left.

Free-kick from a promising position coming up for Watford…

35′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

It’s curious that Lingard tried such a difficult shot, when he could have just blasted it hard and low. He may be lacking confidence, given he hasn’t a Premier League goal or assist in almost a year. 

Not that he’s retreated into his shell – he’s run directly at Capoue and drawn a free-kick and a booking for Capoue. 

34′ – Watford 0-0 Man United

What a chance for Lingard! Martial slips the ball behind a bewilderingly high Watford line, and bearing down on goal, Lingard elects to dink the ball over Foster from the edge of the box, but it’s way too high and it sails over the crossbar! 

‘Twas the game’s best chance thus far, by a mile. 

31′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Fred scythes down on the halfway line, but the long free-kick for Deeney is dealt with by Maguire. There’s really not a whole lot happening here. Watford are lacking quality when they get the ball to their front players; United ae lacking the quality to even get the ball to theirs. 

27′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Solo run by Rashford draws a number of defenders and sends him shuttling across the box, before his shot is blocked behind for a corner. 

Fred’s set-piece is again dealt with by the Watford defence.

26′ – Watford 0-0 Man United

Lengthy United possession comes to nothing and Watford break through Delefeou, who runs right at Lindelof and shreds him. He pops the ball right to Deeney in the box, whose shot is well-blocked by Shaw.

23′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

United have been seized by the season’s spirit of generosity, and they keep giving the ball to Watford. 

The hosts haven’t shown enough quality yet, though, and another low Sarr cross is easily cleared by Lindelof. 

21′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Watford are up for this, and are flying into tackles. United have yet to settle into any kind of rhythm, with Fred and McTomiay entirely anonymous in midfield. 

18′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Watford have the ball in the net, but the move was ended seconds earlier for a foul on De Gea on the corner. Cathcart jumped into De Gea and caused him to drop it. It was probably a foul, but the contact probably wasn’t strong enough to excuse De Gea for dropping a ball that was in his hands…

16′ – Watford 0-0 Man United

Lindelof gives the ball in midfield, and Wan-Bissaka is forced to fight the fire by blocking Delefeou’s cross having been picked out behind the United defence by Feminia. 

14′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Sarr is happily fine to continue, and is immediately back involved as he fires a low cross across the United box that is blocked by Harry Maguire. 

13′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Sarr tries to take on Wan-Bissaka down Watford’s left, but runs out of ideas in the box. He is down clutching his face at the moment, as the defender’s flailing hand seems to have accidentally prodded him in the eye. Ouch. 

11′ – Watford 0-0 Man United

A clumsy Ben Foster clearance put Watford under pressure, but Rashford is crowded out in the box and settles for a corner, which the Watford defence deal with.

9′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Clever play by Lingard in dummying a Wan-Bissaka pass through for Martial, but the French striker is flagged offside. 

9′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Remember Craig Shakespeare? The man who brought some Shakesperian treachery to the Premier League is back as an assistant to Pearson now, and was just spotted on the Watford bench. 

7′ – Watford 0-0 Man United

Oh dear, the corner is rubbish and hits Martial at the edge of United’s box. 

7′ – Watford 0-0 Man United

Watford respond: Sarr’s deep cross is half-cleared by Fred to Deeney’s feet at the back post, and Shaw blocks the subsequent shot behind for the game’s first corner. 

6′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Martial tamely prods a shot wide of the post after some delightful build-up play with James. 

4′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

The set-piece comes to nowt, and Watford clear. 

3′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

Feminia does well to tuck in from left-back and cut-out a Martial pass for Lingard . United then win a free-kick wide on the left for a foul on Fred. 

1′ – Watford 0-0 Man United 

It’s all Watford to start, with Delefeou sloppily miscontrolling a Docoure pass out of play as space had opened up behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka. 

The duel between Delefeou and Wan-Bissaka is already shaping up as one of this game’s key battle-grounds. 

The teams are in the tunnel, ready to emerge to a Vicarage Road bathed in low winter sunlight. 

With Chelsea and Spurs playing later, this is a big chance for United to jostle more forcefully in the top four rat-race. They need to start beating the sides ranked below them and show they can thrive on a system other than pure counter-attacking, so they have much to prove here. 

Watford, meanwhile, need points. Stat. 

“He looks very ready and he is in good shape, he’s feeling good”, Solskjaer tells Sky of Paul Pogba. “Hopefully we can see the best of Paul in the next few months.”

Reminder that kick-off is at 2pm. 

Here is how things lie for United at the moment:

Capture

And here is Watford’s rather grim situation…

 

Capture

Here’s Nigel Pearson speaking ahead of kick off to Sky:

“Last week, we created chances, we showed a strong team ethic. It’s possible for us to get out of the situation we’re in, but we need to start winning games. I’m looking for us to play at our maximum in every game, and we have to produce performances that our fans are happy with. Performances first, but we need results.

“If we create the same number of chances we did last week, we need to start taking them. We need to be at our best, but the players are looking forward to the challenge and it’s important to go into these games with the freedom to go and play.” 

“Are you an ostrich?”, he didn’t add, sadly. 

Pogba is in line for this first United appearance since the end of September today, and has made just five League appearances all season. 

Speculation has, as ever, swirled around the midfielder during that absence, but Solskajer insists Pogba won’t be sold in January. 

Pogba has been struggling with an ankle injury, although there has been some doubts as to how committed he has been to rehabbing it: he was videoed dancing at his brother’s wedding in Paris recently, to which his manager responded by batting it away with a bit of Scandanavian humour. 

“Everyone is allowed to be injured. I was out for 18 months [as a player]. I was at weddings and I was ill and doing other things. I wasn’t the best dancer… not as good as Paul definitely.”

Team News 

Watford

Perhaps unsurprisingly given they played quite well at Liverpool last weekend, Pearson makes no changes for this game. 

Manchester United 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named an unchanged line-up, too, but Paul Pogba returns to the subs’ bench…

It’s been a pretty stodgy 2019 away from home for Manchester United, and have won just five Premier League games on the road all year.

Can they improve that record today, in their penultimate away game of the year?

On paper it should be as close to a formality as these come, as they face bottom-of-the-table Watford.

The Hornets tear through managers’ contracts like Christmas wrapping paper, but under Nigel Pearson they showed admirable resilience in defeat at Anfield eight days ago.

Can they cause an upset, given they’ve now clocked a full week’s work under their new boss?

Welcome to The42’s live coverage of the Premier League clash between Watford and Manchester United, with which you can get involved below the line or by emailing gavincooney@the42.ie.

Kick off is at 2pm and team news – featuring one Paul Pogba – follows next…

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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