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Preview: Manchester United vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's FA Cup clash between Manchester United and Watford, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Manchester United will be looking to book their spot in the fourth round of this season's FA Cup when they welcome Championship side Watford to Old Trafford on Saturday night.

The Red Devils, who won the last of their 12 FA Cups in 2016, suffered a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup on Wednesday, while Watford will enter the contest off the back of a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City in the Championship on January 2.

Match preview

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pictured on January 1, 2021© Reuters

United's recent form has been excellent, winning eight of their last 10 in the Premier League to rise into second position in the table, level on points with leaders Liverpool.

The Red Devils will have the chance to move to the summit on Tuesday, ahead of the trip to Liverpool on January 17, as they play their game in hand against Burnley at Turf Moor.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side saw their EFL Cup challenge come to an end on Wednesday night, though, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to bitter rivals Man City in the semi-finals of the competition.

The league will take priority for United this season, but Solskjaer wants to deliver a trophy as soon as possible, and the FA Cup might arguably be the team's best chance of silverware this term.

The 20-time English champions, as mentioned, have won this competition on 12 occasions, the last of which was in 2016; they reached the semi-finals of last season's tournament, but David de Gea had a match to forget against Chelsea as the Blues recorded a 3-1 victory to advance.

Watford's Tom Cleverley celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates against Swansea City on January 2, 2021© Reuters

Watford, meanwhile, will enter the match off the back of a 2-1 defeat at Swansea, which left the Hornets down in sixth position in the Championship table.

A record of 10 wins, seven draws and five defeats from 22 matches has brought the Hertfordshire club 37 points, which has left them 10 points off the top of the division, a spot which is currently occupied by Norwich City.

Xisco is now in charge of the second-tier club, with the 40-year-old replacing Vladimir Ivic, who was sacked before Christmas, meaning that there has now been 13 changes of manager since June 2012.

Watford suffered a 4-1 defeat to United when the two teams last met in the FA Cup back in 2007, with Wayne Rooney inspiring the English giants to the final.

The Hornets have actually lost six of their last seven matches with the Red Devils in all competitions, but they recorded a 2-0 win when the two teams met at Vicarage Road in December 2019.

Manchester United FA Cup form: DWWWWL
Manchester United form (all competitions): WWDWWL

Watford FA Cup form: WWWLDL
Watford form (all competitions): WWDLWL

Team News

Manchester United's Donny van de Beek pictured on December 12, 2020© Reuters

United will again be without the services of Phil Jones through injury and Edinson Cavani through suspension, while Marcos Rojo remains a huge fitness doubt for Solskjaer's team.

Facundo Pellistri had potentially been in line to make his debut for the club, but the youngster has tested positive for coronavirus and will therefore not be involved.

The hosts are expected to make a number of changes from the side that started against Man City as they will face Burnley in the Premier League on Tuesday ahead of a trip to Anfield.

Axel Tuanzebe, Donny van de Beek, Daniel James and Juan Mata should all come into the starting XI, while Eric Bailly could return to the heart of the defence.

Anthony Martial could be on the bench against Burnley on Tuesday with Cavani serving the final game of his three-match suspension here, meaning that the Frenchman might start this contest.

As for Watford, Craig Cathcart and Joao Pedro have returned to training following hamstring issues, and the pair are in contention to feature at Old Trafford.

The Hornets still have injury problems, though, with Domingos Quina, Isaac Success and Stipe Perica unavailable, while Christian Kabasele is still struggling with a knee injury.

Head coach Xisco will also make alterations to his first-choice XI, with Daniel Bachmann and William Troost-Ekong among those in line for starts, but midfielder James Garner is ineligible to face his parent club.

There should still be plenty of experience in the away team's starting side, though, with Troy Deeney, Ismaila Sarr and Andre Gray potentially all being included.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
Henderson; Tuanzebe, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; Matic, Van de Beek; James, Mata, Greenwood; Martial

Watford possible starting lineup:
Bachmann; Navarro, Troost-Ekong, Wilmot, Masina; Hughes, Chalobah, Cleverley, Sarr; Gray, Deeney

SM words green background

We say: Manchester United 3-1 Watford

Watford are certainly capable of making it a very uncomfortable 90 minutes for United, who will have one eye on their next league game at Burnley. The Red Devils have had their problems at Old Trafford this term, but we expect them to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 3-1 success.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


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New Watford boss Vladimir Ivic on September 11, 2020
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