Troy Deeney celebrating his goal against Aston Villa in the Premier League

What you need to know about Watford

Manchester United host Watford on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League, with the game kicking off at 14:00 GMT.

The Hornets drew 1-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion in their last match before the winter break, leaving them in 19th place with only Norwich City below them as they look to secure a sixth straight season in the top flight. 

We've taken a detailed look at Nigel Pearson's side, ahead of their visit to Old Trafford...

TEAM NEWS

Senagelese winger Ismaila Sarr and Spanish right-back Kiko Femenia are in contention to face the Reds after returning from thigh injuries. Long-term absentee Daryl Janmaat could make his comeback at the end of the month but this weekend's game will come too soon for him. United Academy graduates Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley will hope to be involved at Old Trafford despite a lack of first-team action this season; the latter is lacking match fitness, having not played since October.

Scout Report: Our analysis of WatfordVideo

FORM GUIDE

After picking up four victories over a three-week period in December and January, Watford are without a win in their last four Premier League matches and conceded late goals in three of those. Hornets centre-back Adrian Mariappa netted an own goal in the 1-1 draw at Brighton, while Aston Villa and Everton both struck in the 90th minute to snatch all three points. The visitors' last win was in early January at Bournemouth, which was only their second away scalp of the season, something they will be looking to improve upon against United. 

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

Watford were victorious in the last meeting between the sides, with Sarr making the difference. The 21-year-old netted the opening goal before winning a penalty which Troy Deeney converted to secure a 2-0 win. However, in the last fixture between the two clubs at the Theatre of Dreams, on 30 March 2019, the Reds ran out 2-1 winners. Marcus Rashford coolly slotted home following a superb through ball from Luke Shaw before Anthony Martial's second-half header proved to be the winner, with Abdoulaye Doucoure pulling a goal back for the Hornets late on.

Highlights: United 2 Watford 1Video

OPPOSITION MANAGER

Before Nigel Pearson's appointment as head coach in December, Watford were bottom of the league and six points from safety with only one victory to their name. Since then, the experienced manager has improved the club's fortunes and despite still being in the bottom three, the Hornets are only one point behind Aston Villa in 17th position. Pearson has managed a host of English clubs, including Southampton, Hull City and Derby County, but is perhaps most well-known for his spell at Leicester City, winning promotion to the Premier League in 2014 before keeping the Foxes up against all the odds the following season.

Nigel Pearson clapping Watford's supporters at Vicarage Road
Nigel Pearson guided Watford to a 2-0 win against United in December.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

After netting just one goal in his first 19 league matches this campaign, Doucoure has struck three times in his last six. The French midfielder has been one of Watford's standout players during a difficult season, as he provides a defensive barrier to the backline while still making a difference in the attacking third. 

The Hornets' captain and joint-top scorer Troy Deeney will provide the biggest goal threat to United's defence, with five goals from 15 matches in 2019/20 after missing three months of action last year following knee surgery. The striker can be tricky to contain with his physical presence in the box and he boasts a decent goalscoring record against the Reds, with four in nine previous appearances.

United frontman and former Watford player Odion Ighalo may come up against his old side for the first time on Sunday,  as he looks to net his first goal for the Reds after making two substitute appearances against Chelsea and Club Brugge. The former Nigeria international enjoyed a successful three-year spell with Watford between 2014 and 2017, scoring 39 times in 99 appearances.

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