Scott McTominay, who was the United skipper in a much-changed side, sent the Red Devils into the next stages of the FA Cup with an early header. The hosts did not add to the scoreline, which was surprising as they began the match with an excellent tempo.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted for a highly rotated side in this FA Cup third-round tie against the Hornets. The side was a mixture of youth and experience. It gave many players an opportunity to impress the United boss. Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams and Jesse Lingard were all recalled to the lineup. All three have had very limited game time this season.
First Half: United Start strong in Fa Cup clash?
Manchester United came out of the blocks early in this FA Cup clash. They dictated play and took the game to the Championship side from the off. Welsh winger Daniel James began well in the opening exchanges as did summer signing Alex Telles. Telles ventured forward at every opportunity and many of his attacking qualities were on show at the Theatre of Dreams. The Brazilian fullback was rewarded for his efforts in the fourth minute, when Scott Mctominay reacted quickest to head home from an inviting delivery. Telles swung in from a corner and Mctominay’s header left the Watford keeper with no chance, in which United took advantage of their positive start to the game. Minutes later and United were still dictating the play, through the pivot of Donny van de Beek and Scotland international Mctominay.
Daniel James, who has already found the back of the net on two occasions this season, saw a powerful effort of his saved by Bachmann. Veteran Juan Mata got on the end of van de Beek’s delightful back-heel but couldn’t find the back of the net. Solskjaer would have been furious with his sides inability to convert chances.
Injury worry for Bailly again?
Watford did enjoy some success in the first half and were threatening on the break through Saar. The Hornets were also a threat at every set piece, in which they almost equalised from a deep-free kick. Dean Henderson was almost caught out in no-mans land from a cross. But then made up for this with a smart save. Tuanzebe also came into action with his goal-line clearance. Red Devils fans must have had their heads in hands, when Eric Bailly went to ground following a collision with teammate Dean Henderson. The Ivory Coast defender was taken off as a precaution. United’s main captain Harry Maguire came on in his absence on the stroke of half time.
Unlike the first half, United came out in the second half slowly and did not look like they were going to kill the game off. Players like Lingard and James, who put in impressive first half displays, began to fade in the second period. As United looked more and more complacent the visitors grew into the game.
The Red Devils still had their chances and James saw yet another of his efforts easily saved. Mason Greenwood and van de Beek did not really capitalise on their chance to impress Solskjaer, in which they were both average and neither put in a convincing performance. Dutch maestro van de Beek looked neat and tidy but his influence on the game become less and less. Greenwood on the other hand did not really have many opportunities to impact the game. However, was often found out wide rather than in the central positions that he should have occupied.
United into the next round of the FA Cup draw
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were introduced into the game late on to kill of the game. Both were quiet and this was mainly because of the omission of key playmaker Bruno Fernandes. United will go into Monday’s fourth and fifth-round FA cup draws, despite their underwhelming performance in this clash. Solskjaer will now turn the attention of the United camp to the two pivotal fixtures next week against Burnley and title-challengers Liverpool.