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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Watford can leave their mark against United

Hornets are buzzing up front

Richarlison wheels away after scoring for Watford against West Ham
1 of 1

Premier League
BT Sport 1, 8pm Tuesday

Watford's 13 Premier League matches this season have generated 43 goals – inferior only to Manchester City – and the Hornets can play a full part in an entertaining contest against Manchester United which should produce goals at both ends.

United travel to Vicarage Road with the best defensive record in the division (six goals conceded) but they have been breached on their last two top-flight road trips – a 2-1 loss at Huddersfield and a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho is often characterised as a cautious coach but he has been going with some attacking line ups since Paul Pogba's return from injury.

Pogba has slotted into midfield alongside Nemanja Matic but still has a licence to get forward and was on the scoresheet in the 4-1 triumph at home to Newcastle nine days ago.

Ahead of the Frenchman, Mourinho can choose from six high-class players - Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – to fill four attacking berths.

Lukaku leads their scoring charts with 12 goals but has struggled to maintain the standards he was setting earlier in the season, scoring just once in his last ten appearances.

Tuesday Premier League previews

Brighton v Crystal Palace

Leicester v Tottenham

West Brom v Newcastle

There were always going to be moments when the Belgian's performances would dip and United planned for them by re-signing Ibrahimovic.

However, the Swede is just over a week into his return from a seven-month absence and might have to wait until the weekend for his first start of the campaign.

Watford's attacking options are enhanced with Troy Deeney available after a three-game ban.

Deeney will jostle with Andre Gray for a place up top but the main threat to United comes from Richarlison – scorer of five goals in his 13 Premier League appearances – and arguably the best value purchase of the summer.

The Brazilian has pace, trickery, physicality and an eye for goal.

Richarlison's decision-making is not always the best but he provided a delicious assist for Gray's goal at Newcastle on Saturday and is sure to cause problems for United right back Antonio Valencia.

Watford's 3-0 win on Tyneside lifted them to eighth, within one point of seventh-placed Burnley and five clear of ninth-placed Brighton.

A top-seven finish and possible Europa League qualification are achievable targets, although there is still room for improvement – especially in defence.

Watford have conceded 21 goals – the highest among the top 14 teams – and each of their five clean sheets have been achieved against teams from outside the top eight.

However, their bold approach under sought-after manager Marco Silva is refreshing to see and was apparent from the outset when they drew 3-3 at home to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the season.

Keeping United at bay may prove beyond them but they will cause plenty of problems at the other end.

United are a more complete team and look the likelier winners but it looks a dangerous game for them and they don't make any great appeal at the prices.

Watford have scored in seven of their last eight games and their potency points to a wager on both teams to score at a shade of odds-on.

Both teams to score
1pt 17-20 Betfair

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Team news
Troy Deeney is available after a three-game ban but Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah, Isaac Success (all knee) and Younes Kaboul (hamstring) are out.

Manchester United
Phil Jones (thigh), Michael Carrick (heart) are sidelined and Eric Bailly is a doubt after sitting out the last two games.

Key stat
Watford have scored in 12 of their 14 games this season.

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The main threat to United comes from Richarlison – scorer of five goals in his 13 Premier League appearances
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