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    Watford v Manchester United: Match Preview

    By Alex Easley
    Wayne Rooney is unavailable for Manchester United's trip to Watford through illness.
    Watford host Louis van Gaal’s depleted Manchester United side at Vicarage Road in the Premier League’s first fixture of the weekend on Saturday lunchtime.

    The Dutch head coach faces a real selection dilemma with Captain Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, 
    Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia all unavailable for the visitors, who go into the game one point behind Leicester City and two behind Arsenal and Manchester City.

    Despite plenty of criticism over their playing style, United are unbeaten since their loss to Arsenal on October 4th and have kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions.

    With only eight goals conceded in 12 league games, United currently have the best defensive record in the top division, while Watford have also been impressing at the back.

    Quique Sanchez Flores’ side have conceded the joint-lowest number of goals outside the top five and are the best-placed of the three promoted teams.

    Despite losing at Leicester before the international break, Watford are yet to lose back-to-back games this season.


    Watford's leading scorer Odion Ighalo faces a late fitness test after returning late from international duty with Nigeria while Sebastian Prodl, Tommie Hoban (groin and hip injuries), Joel Ekstrand and Rene Gilmartin are unavailable.

    Beyond those, Quique Sanchez Flores has a fully-fit squad from which to choose, although problems could yet surface for Allan Nyom, should he be punished by the Cameroon Football Association for missing their recent World Cup qualifiers.

    Manchester United will be forced into changes with Rooney, Martial, Carrick, Fellaini and Valencia all unavailable.

    James Wilson could lead the line but Van Gaal has already stated that he will not play the full 90 minutes due to a lack of "match rhythm".

    Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores said this week: "We have to reference the matches we have played against big teams.

    "Against Manchester City we were really competitive for 45 minutes, against Arsenal we were for one hour, so our target for this match is to be competitive for one-and-a-half hours.

    "We will approach the game with respect, organisation, tradition and passion."
    Quique Sanchez Flores says his side will approach the game against United with respect, organisation, tradition and respect.
    Meanwhile Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has had this to say on the status of his squad: "I think that everybody knows Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial are injured, but also injured is Fellaini. 

    "That's a surprise because I thought he was recovered after the international break, but still he is injured.

    "And that's a big blow because Rooney is ill, so we have a big problem, I think.

    "[James Wilson] can play but he cannot play a whole match because he doesn't have the rhythm of the game."



    Manchester United have won all four previous Premier League meetings between the sides, and the last nine in all competitions.

    United have won on their last four visits to Vicarage Road in all competitions.


    Watford have not suffered back-to-back defeats so far in this season's Premier League.

    Eleven of the 12 league goals they have conceded this season have come in the second half.

    The Hornets have scored an average of 0.92 goals a game, the second-lowest figure in the top flight.

    Odion Ighalo has scored seven Premier League goals this season - only Leicester's Jamie Vardy has more.

    Manchester United

    United have the best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded eight goals in 12 games. They have kept clean sheets in five of their last six Premier League matches, and have gone 555 minutes without conceding in all competitions.

    Louis van Gaal's side have kept eight clean sheets in the league this season already - they kept 11 in the whole of last season.

    According to Opta, the Red Devils have converted a league-high 20% of their chances this season.

    However, they have failed to score in three of their last five top-flight games.

    K.O. 12.45PM 21/11/2015 – BT Sport 1 HD
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    Item Reviewed: Watford v Manchester United: Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Alex Easley
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