Your essential guide to United v Watford
United wrap up the 2017/18 Premier League campaign on home turf this Sunday afternoon, when Watford are the visitors to Old Trafford. Scroll down for all the key info…
Setting the scene: The Reds welcome the Hornets for our final Premier League game of the 2017/18 season on Sunday afternoon. After being held to a goalless draw at West Ham United on Thursday night, Jose Mourinho's men will look to sign off the league campaign on a high with a victory over Watford, who are in mid-table and merely playing for pride on the final day. With Champions League football for next season and second place already assured, the focus for Jose Mourinho’s men is building confidence and momentum ahead of the Emirates FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley next weekend.
How can I follow it? The match kicks off at 15:00 BST and will not be screened live by any UK broadcaster. But fear not, as subscribers to MUTV (available on Sky and Virgin Media, or via the club’s MUTV app or online at MUTV.com) will be able to follow all the build-up on the Match Day show from 13:00 BST and listen to full radio commentary of the game, before watching it in full at midnight. You can also keep up with all the action as it happens via ManUtd.com’s live match blog and by following the club’s official Twitter account @ManUtd.
Any team news for me? Mourinho has already confirmed the identity of seven starters for Sunday’s game, with Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all set to play. But Belgian duo Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku are unavailable, with the manager hopeful top scorer Lukaku will be fit enough for at least a place on the bench in next week’s final.
How about Watford? The Hornets are set to be without six players for Sunday’s match, including former Reds midfielder Tom Cleverley, who has a hamstring injury. Two defenders in Younes Kaboul (fractured metatarsal) and Tommie Hoban (ACL knee injury) plus midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah (knee) and forwards Stefano Okaka (thigh) and Andre Carrillo (groin) are also expected to be sidelined.
How are the visitors doing? A winless run of seven games leading up to last weekend’s crucial game against Newcastle United had left Watford looking nervously over their shoulder at the bottom three, but a strong performance and 2-1 win over the Magpies at Vicarage Road guaranteed their top-flight status for a fourth successive season next term. The Hornets, however, have struggled away from home and have recorded just one solitary point on their travels since Javi Gracia was appointed manager in January – in a goalless draw at Stoke City, who have been relegated. But a first win at Old Trafford since October 1978 would enable the Hertfordshire outfit to finish as high as 10th, as Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth are presently all locked on the same 41-point tally as the Hornets.
Goals: Watford 2 United 4Video
Who is in charge of Watford? Javi Gracia is the current man at the helm, with the 48-year-old Spaniard appointed on 21 January following the sacking of former Hull City boss Silva after a poor run of form. But former Malaga, Rubin Kazan and Osasuna manager Gracia has presided over just four victories from 14 games in charge to date, drawing three and losing the other seven of those matches.
What’s our record like against them? United have won 13 of the last 14 encounters with Watford in all competitions, including the last four meetings between the sides at Old Trafford. The most recent was a 2-0 victory in February 2017, when goals from Mata and Martial sealed a routine three points for the Reds. The Hornets have recorded just a solitary victory in 12 previous trips to the Theatre of Dreams – a League Cup third-round triumph in October 1978 in which Luther Blissett scored both goals in a 2-1 win. Overall, United have a positive record of 19 wins from 29 previous encounters with Watford in all competitions, with five draws and five defeats. That makes for a win ratio of 65.52 per cent – which is our highest against any side currently competing in the Premier League.
One to watch: A shining light in Watford’s indifferent season, Abdoulaye Doucoure has been mightily impressive in the Hornets engine room and is the club’s top scorer. The French midfielder has chipped in with seven goals, including one in the reverse fixture against the Reds at Vicarage Road, and registered four assists in all competitions. Doucoure deservedly swept up at the club’s Player of the Year awards this week, taking home the fans’ and players’ accolades, and has been linked with a move to some top clubs this summer. The United midfield will have to keep a close eye on the irrepressible 25-year-old, who has certainly made a name for himself this term.
A fitting farewell… Club captain Carrick will make his 464th and final appearance for the Reds against Watford, before retiring at the end of the season and becoming part of Mourinho’s coaching staff for next term. The boss has confirmed he will substitute the 36-year-old, who has won 18 trophies during his successful 12-year career at United, during the game in order for the veteran midfielder to receive a richly deserved standing ovation from the Old Trafford faithful. Let’s hope the Reds can mark Michael's day with a win.
Did you know? Sunday’s match will be the 1,000th Premier League game in our history, and our 500th in the competition at Old Trafford. Only five other teams - Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham - will reach that landmark this weekend, with every other club currently in the top flight spending at least one season since 1992 in a lower division. During the 999 games played so far, the Reds have racked up 628 victories, 215 draws and 156 defeats, scoring 1,923 goals, conceding 875 and winning a record 13 titles.
Home rule: The Reds have not lost the final home game of a Premier League season since 2006/07, when West Ham won 1-0 at Old Trafford thanks to a goal from Carlos Tevez, who of course went on to represent the Reds. United had already been crowned champions, and West Ham needed to win to avoid relegation, which they did at the expense of Sheffield United, who lost 2-1 to Wigan Athletic.
Who’s the referee? Lee Mason will take charge of his first match at Old Trafford this season, and his second United game in total after handling the Reds’ 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield back in October – in which he booked six players, including United duo Martial and Young. The Bolton-based whistler has brandished 67 yellow cards, sent off four players and awarded six penalties in 25 games in all competitions this term. He will be assisted by Matthew Wilkes and Mick McDonough, with Neil Swarbrick appointed as the fourth official.
Rivals watch: All 20 Premier League teams will be in action on Sunday, in what will be a typically busy final day of the campaign. Here’s the full fixture list:
Sunday 13 May
Burnley v Bournemouth
Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion
Huddersfield Town v Arsenal
Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion
Manchester United v Watford
Newcastle United v Chelsea
Southampton v Manchester City
Swansea City v Stoke City
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City
West Ham United v Everton
All games will kick off at 15:00 BST.