The chants of “attack, attack, attack” rumble on—but as long as Manchester United win games, it’ll remain background noise. Louis Van Gaal moaned that the fans ‘need patience’ and will take heart from Jesse Lingard’s performance (and a great, great goal) against West Brom last time out. It’s hard to see United as title-challengers though when they struggle to score goals almost every match. Watford were badly let down by Heurelho Gomes in their match with Leicester by a very familiar kind of fumble from the Brazilian. The Hornets fought hard and were good value otherwise—they’ll hope for better luck against United.
The Argentine was linked with moves away from Old Trafford in the summer and allegedly had a falling out with LVG over a failure to attend pre-season training. There is still the sense that Van Gaal doesn’t fully trust Rojo but that hasn’t stopped him naming him in the first XI regularly since mid-October. For his part Rojo was named MotM in the 0-0 against Crystal Palace, a result that seems better and better after watching Palace beat Liverpool at Anfield. Against Watford, Rojo should take the opportunity to attack and support Lingard on the left—just the 1 assist so far this season needs to be improved upon.
Louis Van Gaal will take good news where he can find it right now—and it’s news in the form of Jesse Lingard. The young Englishman is offering an attacking threat all too often absent from United performances and is managing to keep summer signing Memphis Depay on the bench to boot. Lingard’s passing and finishing are decent but his influence is measured more in his willingness to get forward and attack the opposition penalty area. Alongside Anthony Martial (whose pace and awareness won the penalty in their last match), Lingard stands to have a big say in how United’s season pans out.
Alongside Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, Odion Ighalo makes up the top three goalscorers in the league right now with 7 goals. Since the season started he’s been named MotM 3 times and has been far and away Watford’s most effective attacking threat. The Hornets’ victories over Stoke and West Ham have left them comfortably mid-table and 8 points away from the relegation zone, always a nice cushion for newly promoted teams. And Ighalo was key in those matches—he’ll be relied upon heavily here to do the same to Manchester United.
I think most observers would agree that Manchester United have not been pretty to watch for a while now. Mata’s Spanish wizardry is a bright spark in and amongst the drudgery however—without his influence on the field the Red Devils would be even more boring than they already are.