Manchester United will welcome Watford to the Old Trafford for their final Premier League fixture of the 2017/18 season on Sunday.
Manchester United will look to build some positive momentum ahead of the big FA Cup finals against Chelsea next weekend, with a win over Watford in their last league encounter of the season.
The Red Devils have failed to win their previous two matches, first being defeated 1-0 by Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, before being held to a goalless draw by West Ham United during the midweek. And manager Jose Mourinho will be hoping that his side gets back to winning ways against the Hornets and finish their league campaign on a high.
On the other hand, Watford come into the game on the back of a 2-1 home win over Newcastle United in their penultimate game of the season and manager Javi Gracia will be intent on carrying the momentum from that victory against their illustrious opponents on Sunday and taking home all three points. A win coupled with other results going their way could propel the Hornets to a top-half table finish.
Team News and Tactics
Manchester United will not be able to bank upon the services of Belgian forward and season’s top goalscorer Romelu Lukaku, who continues his recovery from an ankle injury, while his compatriot Marouane Fellaini is also set to miss out with a muscular injury.
Mourinho has confirmed that he will be rotating his squad for the encounter, keeping in view the cup finals heading the team’s way. Having played a 3-5-2 setup last time out, the Portuguese is likely to return to his favoured 4-2-3-1 on Sunday.
Golden Glove winner David De Gea will drop out of the starting lineup to make way for Sergio Romero between the sticks for the Red Devils.
Antonio Valencia is expected to keep his place on the right side of the back four, whereas Dutch international Daley Blind, who has been sparingly used by the manager this season, will make a rare start at left-back. Ivory Coast international Eric Bailly is in line for a return to the playing XI in the heart of the defence, alongside Phil Jones. The duo will potentially have to deal with the physical threat posed by Troy Deeney.
In the middle of the park, club captain Michael Carrick will take the field in what will be his last Premier League appearance, having announced that he will be hanging up his boots at the end of the season. He will likely be partnered by club record signing Paul Pogba, who did not have the best of the games against West Ham during the week.
Juan Mata will look to provide the guile and creativity for the home team in the final third starting out on the right-hand side, while Frenchman Anthony Martial will get another chance to prove himself ahead of the FA Cup finals after some dour displays of late. Jesse Lingard will start as the No.10 for United and look to cause problems with his sharp movement.
At the tip of the attack, academy graduate Marcus Rashford will get the nod in the absence of Lukaku and will hope to improve on his recent performances.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Carrick, Pogba; Mata, Lingard, Martial; Rashford;
The visitors could be without as many as six first team players for the Sunday’s meeting at Old Trafford with former Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley missing out with a hamstring problem, along with defenders Younes Kaboul and Tommy Hoban while Stefano Okaka is also sidelined. Summer signings Nathaniel Chalobah and Andre Carrillo are also doubtful to feature.
Gracia is likely to go into the game with the 4-4-2 setup that yielded a win for his side against Newcastle United last weekend. The manager has extensively used Orestis Karnezis in goal ahead of veteran Heurelho Gomes since coming in and that is unlikely to change on Sunday.
Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele are likely to start as the two centre-backs and will have to deal with the pace of Rashford. Netherlands international Daryl Janmaat will take up the right-back slot, while veteran Greek defender Jose Holebas will occupy the opposite side for the Hornets.
Summer signing Will Hughes could once again feature out on the right side of the midfield four with former Juventus midfielder Roberto Pereyra slotting in on the left-flank. He will be high on confidence having scored in the previous game and will look to cause some problems for the home team. In the centre of the park, the French duo of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue will line up and look to disrupt United’s rhythm.
Upfront, it will be the two-pronged strikeforce of captain Troy Deeney combined with club record signing Andre Gray. The former Burnley man hasn’t had the best of the debut seasons for Watford, but did score in the last game and will want to sign off on a high.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Karnezis; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Gray, Deeney;
- Manchester United have won 13 of their last 14 meetings in all competitions with Watford, losing only at Vicarage Road in September 2016 (1-3).
- Watford have never won in 10 top-flight visits to Old Trafford (D2 L8), losing each of their last six in a row.
- The Hornets have failed to score in their last 7 away matches in the Premier League.
- The Red Devils have won more final games in a Premier League campaign than any other side (17), losing only against Spurs in 2000-01 and West Ham in 2006-07.
- This will be the 500th Premier League game at Old Trafford – the ground has seen more goals than any other in the competition (1406).
1. Manchester United Asian Handicap – 1.0 @ 1.600
2. Both Teams to Score – NO @ 2.00
1. Michael Carrick to score anytime @ 4.33
2. Manchester United to score a penalty @ 5.00
Player to watch
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Sunday’s match will be all about one man, Michael Carrick. The Manchester United captain will call time on his career at the end of the season and will be leading the side out for the last time at the Old Trafford against the Hornets. A wonderful servant for the club, the 36-year old has had a glorious career with the Red Devils spanning close to 12 years during which he has won numerous trophies and accolades. He will be in for a rousing send off on Sunday and will want to sign off on his Premier League career with another masterclass.
Manchester United 2-0 Watford
Manchester United have been sloppy and uninventive in their last two fixtures and will be looking to address that on Sunday as they prepare for the finals next week. Add to that, the atmosphere at the Old Trafford will be electric as the fans prepare to bid goodbye to Carrick, which should further spur the team to put up a strong performance and as a result, we at the Hard Tackle expect a 2-0 win for the home side against Watford.
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