Odion Ighalo could make his full Manchester United debut against his former club Watford today as Manchester United look to build on last Monday’s impressive 2-0 victory at Chelsea.
The Red Devils are currently just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the table, while Watford occupy 19th position having failed to win in their last four league outings.
There is no getting away from the fact that it has been an inconsistent season for United, but the team have pulled off some very impressive results during the 2019-20 campaign, including a 2-0 success away to Chelsea,2 where Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire were on the scoresheet.
A defeat at Stamford Bridge would have left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s nine points off the top four, but the gap is just three heading into this weekend’s fixtures despite the fact that Untied are still seventh in the table.
A record of 10 wins, eight draws and eight defeats has brought them 38 points, two points behind fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
In all competitions, the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last five, including a 1-1 draw away to Club Brugge in the Europa League on Thursday night. Indeed, Martial scored the second successive match to ensure that his team would pick up a positive result in the first leg of their last-32 tie.
Fifth could yet be enough for a Champions League spot next season depending on what happens with Manchester City’s two-year ban, while winning the Europa League would also be another route into Europe’s premier competition, which would surely open up more possibilities for United in this summer’s transfer market.
For all of the criticism aimed at Solskjaer, the Red Devils could yet enjoy a successful end to the season as they are also still in the FA Cup and will take on Wayne Rooney’s Derby County in the fifth round of that competition on March 5.
The second leg of their Europa League clash with Brugge is next Thursday, meanwhile, and they will also travel to Everton in the league before the clash with Derby. Then comes the small matter of the Manchester derby at home to City on Match 8, showing the huge volume of matches on the horizon.
United will be the favourites heading into this weekend’s contest, but both Crystal Palace and Burnley have beaten the 20-time English champions at Old Trafford in the league this season, while Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers have all picked up draws.
Watford ran out 2-0 winners when they welcomed United to Vicarage Road in December, but the Hornets have incredibly never picked up a point in a Premier League match at Old Trafford.
Indeed, the capital side’s only two Premier League wins over United have come at Vicarage Road, losing each of their six top-flight matches to the English giants in Manchester. That said, their two most recent games at Old Trafford have been close affairs, finishing 1-0 and 2-1 respectively.
Watford’s two-goal success over United on December 22 saw them embark on a run which brought four victories and two draws from six matches to move clear of the relegation zone.
Nigel Pearson’s side are without a victory since January 12, though, picking up just two points from their last four matches against Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion.
As a result, the Hornets are down in 19th position in the table; their situation is far from terminal, though, as they are only one point behind Villa in 17th, while just three points separates them from Brighton in 15th.
Norwich City are going to find it difficult to escape the bottom three as they are six points adrift in 20th, but the likes of Watford, West Ham, Villa, Bournemouth and Brighton are all in the mix above them. Even Crystal Palace in 14th are not safe with the Eagles struggling for form in 2020.
Only Norwich, Villa and Brighton have a worse away record than Watford this season, with the Hornets picking up just 10 points from their 13 matches on their travels. United, though, as mentioned above, have dropped points in seven of their 13 home Premier League games during the 2019-20 campaign.
It is not as if it gets any easier for Watford as they will follow this weekend’s match with a home game against Liverpool on February 29, and the threat of relegation is still very much present despite Pearson’s good work since taking charge of the club at the start of December