A rare Saturday afternoon kick off for United saw Watford arrive at Old Trafford ready for this Premier League encounter. Just ten days ago, Walter Mazzarri guided his unfancied Watford team to a magnificent victory down in London, with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal.
There was no such luck this time around though as United swatted the Hornets aside with a comfortable victory. A 2-0 score line was at times was very kind to the visitors as the Red Devils, not for the first time this season, failed to capitalise on the many chances created. Jose chose to play with two creative players behind Ibrahimovic, hoping to find a route around Watford’s back three. Mata and Mkhitaryan were given the responsibility of providing the ammunition for the Swedish goal getter, and it was Mata who opened the scoring in the first half after United had spawned many chances already.
The boss said, “it would have been a football crime had we not taken advantage of that many chances in the first half,” and after previous home games in which United had failed to kill teams off, it was a huge relief when the chants of “Tony Martial scores again” were ringing out from the Stretford End halfway through the second half.
The league table looked a little different for United, if only for an hour or so, as they moved up into fifth place above Liverpool and only two points behind second place Spurs, who incidentally were playing each other. Like United, a 2-0 win for Liverpool saw them leapfrog their fiercest rivals back into fifth. It was good while it lasted right?!
It’s a busy week ahead for United as European action kicks off again. Thursday evening sees the return of the Europa League and a date with St. Etienne at Old Trafford in the last 32 stage. The French record holders, who have won Ligue 1 more than any other side, are sat in fifth place themselves and with four wins out of their last seven will certainly be no pushovers.
With no Premier League action next weekend due to FA Cup fixtures, Sunday sees United travel just down the road to Blackburn Rovers. Squad rotation will be firmly on Mourinho’s mind with two games in three days, and while Rovers are having an indifferent season in the Championship, Jose will still want to send out a strong team to secure safe passage into the next round.
Plenty of football cliches can be used here – a week isn’t a long time in football, take each game as it comes, no such thing as an easy game and so on. By this time next week, United could be in strong positions in both the League and Cup competitions, or they could be watching their season unravel before their eyes. The boss will not want that to happen so no doubt the squad will have that driven into them over the next few days at Carrington.
This the Manchester United of old, where the big games come thick and fast and the expectation grows day by day. The team seem to be clicking into place now, sixteen games unbeaten in the Premier League is not to be sniffed at. The business end of the season is just around the corner.