Here are five things to watch for as Manchester United takes on Watford in the Premier League at 3pm today.
Watford’s last win came against Manchester United just seven days ago, which shows how bad things were for the Red Devils near the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.
Second from the bottom, Watford were beaten by Crystal Palace in midweek, and their past six away wins in the Premier League have come under six different managers. Roy Hodgson’s arrival already feels like a late arrival.
However, despite the fact that United’s recent struggles at home and the rematch are cause for concern, the club should be able to rejuvenate the squad while preserving its competitiveness. Recalls of a true right-back, such as Alex Telles, Scott McTominay or Nemanja Matic, as well as Anthony Elanga, would be recommended.
After Watford’s visit, United won’t play for eight days, so the idea of “rests” should be ruled out. Rashford’s inclusion against Atletico Madrid was out of character, and the Red Devils should not continue to play with him. Paul Pogba regressed in Spain, while Luke Shaw has fluctuated between casual and complacent.
One to watch is Sarr, and it’s possible that the Senegalese has been identified as a real Premier League player by Solskjaer. This is the second time Sarr has netted against Manchester United in two seasons. On deadline day in 2020, United made a failed £25 million deal for him.
Hodgson compared Sarr’s value to Watford to Wilfried Zaha’s importance to Crystal Palace. Watford have won two of their past four games without Sarr, who has been out for more than two months due to injury and the Africa Cup of Nations.
Sarr has scored an astounding six goals in 15 league games this season despite the fact that he is a right-footed winger who really plays on the right side of the field.
Who is the right-back in this team?
Ralf Rangnick must be wondering what Diogo Dalot did to anger him. Overhitting crosses would be the only reasonable conclusion. The attacking production of Dalot has been subpar throughout his eight games in the team, but his removal from the squads at Leeds and Atletico was strange.
It’s concerning for Manchester United that Aaron Wan-Bissaka is known for his recovery tackles in an era where some of the best teams’ right backs are also playmakers. When he came off the bench in Madrid, however, he was in high spirits.
Elanga’s cameos are as memorable as Alfred Hitchcock’s, and he had a superb first-half performance at Villa Park last month. The tenacious 19-year-old has yet to start for United, and that will be the next hurdle for him.
When Rangnick told Elanga to press Lewis Dunk at half-time during his last appearance against Brighton, he responded. Dunk was fired because he made a forced mistake.
It’s unfortunate for Man Utd that Elanga is another right-footed forward who prefers to enter from the left side of the field.