Premier League Preview and Prediction: Watford vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Watford FC Vs. Manchester United

Venue: Vicarage Road – Sunday, Septemer 18 – 12:00 BST (07:00 ET)

Match Odds: Watford 5/1 – Draw 3/1 – Manchester United 8/15

Match Preview

Watford welcome Manchester United to Vicarage Road in the first game of an action packed round of Premier League fixtures this Sunday.

The Hornets picked up their first win of the season last weekend as they came from 2-0 down to beat West Ham 4-2.

Walter Mazzarri will be delighted with how his side responded in that tie, they could have easily let their heads drop and been on the receiving end of a thumping.

This is going to be a tough tie for Watford but they will be looking to exploit Manchester United’s defence, who have looked suspect at times this season.

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Manchester United come into this tie having lost in the Manchester Derby and Europa League in midweek, two results they would not have expected.

The response from United in the derby last weekend was positive. Despite not taking anything from the game they looked likely to be pushed back into an embarrassing defeat for large parts of the first half.

Jose Mourinho needs his side to bounce back with a convincing win here to avoid risking more criticism, United have been bemoaned for a lack of quality by many pundits and fans alike already this season.

United need their big-name players to step up and perform. They are giving opponents far too many opportunities in games at the moment, but it is going to take time for all their summer changes to fall into place.

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Team News

Brice Dja Djedje is Watford’s only injury concern ahead of this tie.

Manchester United have two doubts for this one as Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have knocks, while Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia will return to the squad after being left at home for their Europa League tie.

Key Points

Watford’s form: D/L/L/W  

Manchester United’s form: W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Manchester United have won their last eight matches against Watford in all competitions.

Key Player: Marcus Rashford – The United starlet would have given the City defence more of a headache last weekend had he not been on the bench to begin with. He may not start in this one but he certainly has the class to make an impact in any game.

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Score Prediction 

Watford 1-3 Manchester United – Watford’s winless run against Manchester United to continue. They definitely have the players and ability to get at the United defence, but with the squad depth and world-class players at Mourinho’s disposal, they should be winning this game. If United lose this tie and results go against them, they could be as many as six points behind the leaders.

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Would this £50m striker answer Manchester United’s goalscoring problems?

Manchester United‘s goalscoring problems have been well documented by pundits and fans alike throughout this season. The summer transfer window is fast approaching and there have already been plenty of players linked to United.

According to Tuttosport.com, Alvaro Morata is a striker Manchester United are looking into. Any sale of the 23-year-old Spaniard would not come through Juventus directly. Tuttosport highlight United would be prepared to offer a figure around £50 million for the forward.

Morata has a buy-back clause of £24 million from his former club Real Madrid, who could well be tempted into resigning their former man to sell on to potential suitors for profit.

If United are interested in signing Morata as the reports state, Madrid would potentially stand to make a whopping £26 million if they were to exercise their right to buy him back from Juventus.

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But is he the right man to lead Manchester United’s frontline? Lets have a look at his statistics.

Morata vs United forward

Morata 2015/16 league stats compared to Martial, Rooney and Rashford

As we can see, Morata made the most appearances in his domestic league compared to the three United strikers in question above. However, the only area he outperformed any of them was in assists.

Anthony Martial scored the most of the strikers compared with 11 goals coming in three less appearances than the Juve man. Marcus Rashford had the highest shot accuracy, though this is unsurprising given his substantially lower amount of games played. Wayne Rooney had the highest pass accuracy and created more chances than the other three strikers listed.

Manchester United’s Martial had the highest direct involvement with goals for his side, combining with his assists to tally at 15. Morata and Rooney came in joint second, with 14 each and Rashford had the lowest output with seven.

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It is worth mentioning that these comparisons are only an indication of the output all four of the strikers in question, though it is difficult to make an exact comparison given the differing number of appearances.

With the stats presented in mind it would be hard to make a case for United to spend anywhere near £50 million on the Juventus forward and there would more than likely be a number of other candidates whose comparable statistics would provide a better option for the club this summer.

Morata’s strike rate is one goal in every 4.85 games, which in comparison to Rooney – who has had his fair share of critics this season despite an injury-stricken campaign – is worse, as the United captain has averaged a goal in every 3.5 games.

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Martial and Rashford have had far less criticism than Rooney and their statistics better both Rooney and Morata’s. Martial is averaging a goal every 2.8 games, while Rashford’s output is one in every 2.2 outings.

It is clear from the United strikers in question that the squad needs an out-and-out goalscorer in this window. This would take some of the pressure off of the young shoulders of Martial and Rashford but would also give them another quality teammate to learn from.

Given these statistics Morata doesn’t look the right option for United, but as we all know, stats don’t tell the full story in football.

Would Manchester United be wrong to make a move for Morata? Who should they be going after in the summer transfer window?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Bournemouth

Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. AFC Bournemouth

Venue: Old Trafford – Tuesday, May 17 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: Man Utd 4/7 – Draw 16/5 – Bournemouth 17/4

Match Preview

Manchester United host Bournemouth on Tuesday evening in a postponed fixture from Sunday’s final day. A bomb scare at Old Trafford ahead of kickoff saw the match abandoned so the 2015/16 campaign has been extended by a couple of days until this game is concluded.

United came into the final weekend needing a win to stand a chance of qualifying for the Champions League. But local rivals Manchester City sealed a 1-1 draw at Swansea and have subsequently secured a top-four finish.

That will come as a major blow to United, who now need to focus on trying to secure fifth place. They are level on points with Southampton, who occupy fifth spot, but are behind on goal difference.

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A draw on Tuesday would guarantee European football for the Red Devils, although they will have to settle for the Europa League.

Bournemouth have nothing to play for other than pride here and will hope the disruptions surrounding this game don’t affect their chances too much.

Eddie Howe’s men have not won in four but have only lost three of their last 12 away games in the Premier League (W5 D4).

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A win at Old Trafford would cap off a solid season for the Cherries, who will be looking to kick on and improve further for next season.

The reverse fixture saw Bournemouth beat United 2-1 in one of the season’s shock results, although a repeat result looks unlikely here, given their contrasting end-of-season form.

Team News

Manchester United will be without Marouane Fellaini as he serves the final game of his suspension here, while Luke Shaw is not fit enough to return here. Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Will Keane all remain injured and won’t be involved. With a top four place no longer available, Louis Van Gaal may rest a number of first-team players ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final.

Several members of the Bournemouth team were set to go on holiday on Monday, but those plans have had to be changed as this postponed fixture needs to be played. Eddie Howe can name his strongest side available, but Tyrone Mings, Adam Smith and Sylvain Distin are all still out injured.

Key Points

Manchester United’s last five: W/W/D/W/L

Bournemouth’s last five: W/L/L/L/D

Key Stat: Bournemouth have yet to ever score a goal at Old Trafford in four previous attempts. They have lost all four games by an aggregate score of 12-0.

Key Player: Marcus Rashford – The young United striker has been called up to Roy Hodgson’s preliminary Euro 2016 squad and will look to sign off his whirlwind Premier League season with a goal here. He hasn’t scored in over a month but could end that mini-drought here, so long as he starts in attack.

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Score Prediction

Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth – The drama from Sunday means that United now know ahead of kickoff that they cannot qualify for next season’s Champions League. That might affect Louis Van Gaal’s approach to the game, as Saturday’s FA Cup final is now the club’s biggest game of the year. That said, the Red Devils will want to end their league campaign on a high in front of the home fans and a narrow victory is expected. United have only conceded one goal in their last five home league games so Bournemouth are unlikely to walk away with three points.