Manchester United welcome Watford to Old Trafford this Saturday as the Premier League returns after the international break.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær's arrival has transformed the mood at United, helping to lift the team back into contention for Champions League qualification. However, the Norwegian lost his most recent games in charge, going down 2-0 in a costly defeat at Arsenal before being knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The visitors have had an excellent beginning to 2019 and have plenty to play for as the season comes to an end. Unlike their opponents, the Hornets won their cup quarter-final tie to set up a Wembley date with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Additionally, they are chasing a spot in next season's Europa League having climbed up to eighth position in the league table.
Check out 90min's preview of the match below.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 30 March|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||15:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||Old Trafford|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BBC Final Score|
Alexis Sanchez has been sidelined since damaging knee ligaments against Southampton at the start of the month, the Chilean likely to be unavailable until the closing weeks of the campaign. He is one of a host of injured players at Old Trafford, though the others are expected to return much sooner.
The defensive quartet of Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian and Eric Bailly are all slight doubts for this weekend's fixture, whilst forwards Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku will also need further assessment before a decision is made regarding their involvement.
Nemanja Matic missed Serbia's international matches against Germany and Portugal in the week after picking up a knock in training, but could return against the Hornets. The former Chelsea man completes Solskjaer's injury list, with no suspensions depriving the Norwegian of more personnel.
Javi Gracia has no such concerns. Full-back Jose Holebas has been struggling with an ankle problem in recent weeks, though the Greek international should be fit to face the Red Devils.
None of Watford's squad are currently suspended, though Troy Deeney, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue are one booking away from a ban.
|Manchester United||De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Martial, Lukaku.|
|Watford||Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Mariappa, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Deeney, Deulofeu.|
Watford have never won a league match at Old Trafford, with their sole success at the venue coming in the FA Cup back in 1978. That result was also their first ever triumph over United, with their most recent win coming at Vicarage Road three years ago. Their 3-1 victory that day is sandwiched by 15 defeats by Saturday's opponents.
The most recent match-up between these two saw United leave Hertfordshire with all three points in September, Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling netting in the first-half before Andre Gray's finish set up a tense final few minutes. Matic's stoppage-time dismissal came too late in that encounter for Watford to salvage anything.
The visitors have won this fixture just five times in their history and only once in the last three decades. Conversely, United have beaten them on 21 separate occasions, with ten of those coming in the Premier League.
The hosts go in to the clash off the back of two consecutive defeats, their first domestic losses under Solskjær. Those results both came away from Old Trafford, United going down 2-1 at Arsenal before their cup exit at the hands of Wolves.
They have only been beaten once at home since the Norwegian took charge, Paris Saint-Germain leaving the north west with a first-leg lead in their Champions League last-16 tie. No Premier League side has left Manchester with anything better than a draw since Tottenham's stunning 3-0 win in August, the 20-time English champions having made a marked improvement since then.
Paul Pogba, Rashford and Lukaku are just a handful of players who have profited from Solskjær's arrival. All three have been amongst the goals recently and now appear to be fulfilling their potential.
Watford also have reasons to be cheerful having progressed to their fifth cup semi-final appearance this century with a slender victory over the Eagles . That 2-1 success followed up a string of fine results for Gracia's men, the Hornets also thumping Cardiff City and dismissing Leicester City in recent weeks.
However, they have not fared too well in away fixtures over the last month. They were hammered by Liverpool at Anfield at the end of February before being overpowered by Manchester City at the Etihad in mid-March. Nevertheless, they will be jubilant after booking their Wembley date and will show no fear going in to this match-up.
Here's the last five results for each side:
|Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester United (16/3)||Watford 2-1 Crystal Palace (16/3)|
|Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United (10/3)||Manchester City 3-1 Watford (09/3)|
|Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Manchester United (06/3)||Watford 2-1 Leicester City (03/3)|
|Manchester United 3-2 Southampton (02/3)||Liverpool 5-0 Watford (27/2)|
|Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester United (27/2)||Cardiff City 1-5 Watford (22/2)|
The Red Devils may have had a blip in recent weeks, yet remain a side with confidence surging through their veins - especially with the recent permanent appointment of Solskjær. Rather than be disheartened by their FA Cup exit and the loss at the Emirates, Solskjær's recruits are likely to be determined to set the record right.
To do so they must overcome a Hornets team who are tantalisingly close to securing European football for next year. However, they may have their eyes firmly upon an alternative route into continental competition, as their Wembley semi-final will no doubt be difficult for Gracia to ignore.
That the Spaniard rested a host of first-team players before their victory in the last round against Palace suggests his primary focus is not league matters, leaving the door open for the hosts to take advantage.
United are now a team with a strong mentality and a taste for winning, and they will not dwell upon disappointments of the past. With home advantage, they should be able to see off a spirited Watford outfit.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Watford