Watford simply couldn’t have started the Premier League any better than they have – they’ve played four and won four. In their last game, they played the similarly unbeaten Tottenham, and reversed a 1-0 deficit to end up 2-1 winners. This weekend, they welcome Manchester United to Vicarage Road, and have the chance to add an extra few Pascals of pressure to the already unravelling Jose Mourinho should they make it five from five.
Mourinho’s side have stumbled through an indifferent start to the season, playing well for about ten minutes at either end of their opening game against Leicester and again in bursts at Burnley, but they start the day six points adrift of the Hornets. They may be without the suddenly in-favour Luke Shaw after the left-back suffered a concussion on international duty. If he doesn’t make it, former Hornet Ashley Young may face his old club here.
Watford vs Manchester United Prediction: Watford 1-1 Manchester United
A constant issue experienced by United sides under Mourinho’ – in all honesty, since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson – is an inability to break down sides who defend resolutely. That’s good news for Watford, a side with a back four so stout that it could be bottled and sold to stag parties in Temple Bar. Indeed, given that the Hornets could be described as “a slightly better Brighton”, they could repeat the shock defeat that the Seagulls handed Jose’s men a few weeks back. However, we’d predict a low-scoring draw here, in what should be an attritional battle.
Our recommended tip: Match Drawn
It wouldn’t be fair to say Watford are a strong-arm, long-ball side. The presence of skilful players like Roberto Pereyra and Etienne Capoue in their side means they can mix it up with the best sides. The fact that the visitors have dropped six points in the first four games may focus their minds on the task here, though, and United simply can’t keep looking as bad as they have done in patches this season. The hosts have earned the right to be taken seriously though, and this showdown has the unmistakable feel of two sides meeting somewhere in the middle.
Mourinho’s first visit to Vicarage Road as Red Devils manager was a low point in his tenure, as Watford handed a pedestrian United side a 3-1 battering through goals from Capoue, Jose Zuniga and Troy Deeney. Since then, the Mancunian giants have held the upper hand, winning three in a row against this opposition. Last season, this fixture ended in a 4-2 away win, with Ashley Young scoring twice, Marcus Rashford making it 3-0, and a late Anthony Martial goal (85) ending a nascent Watford comeback.
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Players to watch: Troy Deeney & Paul Pogba
Hornets captain Deeney didn’t have the best season last time out, with rumours even swirling that he might be due to move from the club which he has come to embody. The start to this campaign, however, has seen him dovetail with Andre Gray to score twice in four games and trouble international-class centre-backs such as James Tarkowski and Toby Alderweireld. Viktor Lindelof will not be resting easy in his bed in advance of this outing.
For all that he has a “complicated” relationship with Mourinho, Pogba is a World Cup winner and has been probably the visitors’ most consistent player at the start of this season. In addition, if United get a penalty – which they have in three of the first four games, so at least they’re doing well at something – he’s the player that will take it, and could add to his two goals for the season so far.