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Full-time: Manchester United 1-0 Watford

  • Juan Mata scores the winner with a curling free-kick
  • Odion Ighalo spurns good chances in the first half
Juan Mata
Juan Mata scores with a brilliant freekick Getty Images

So, United win a topsy-turvy game against an unfortunate Watford side at Old Trafford. Juan Mata's freekick proved to be the difference between the two sides.

That's all from our live blog tonight. We hope you enjoyed our coverage.

Full-time: Manchester United 1-0 Watford

Four minutes of added time at Old Trafford.

Another change for United, then, as Louis van Gaal looks to waste a few seconds.

The goal hero Juan Mata is taken off and is replaced by Paddy McNair. Gosh, this is a very youthful United side now.

McNair has gone into central midfield, can he help the Reds hang on?

A little less than five minutes left at Old Trafford.

United have been pretty ordinary for most of the night, but stand on the cusp of an important win.

Juan Mata has provided United with the inspiration they have been searching for.

The little Spaniard curled his freekick from the edge of the box into the top corner. A moment of brilliance that could decided this game, that.

Juan Mata
Juan Mata in action for United Getty Images

GOAL: Manchester United 1-0 Watford (Mata)

On reflection, Prödl was being held by Darmian at that corner. That should have been a penalty.

The Italian was all over him. This game could still go either way.

Another scare for United.

Daley Blind tries to clear the ball in his six-yard box, but it almost creates a chance for Watford. In the end, it goes behind for another corner, which is headed fractionally wide of the post.

How many chances are the Hornets going to miss?

United are lacking inspiration at the moment.

It's time for one of the youngsters to make themselves a hero. There's plenty of talent in this side, but they haven't really showed it so far tonight.

There's just over ten mins left at Old Trafford now. And Louis van Gaal has made another switch.

Another change for the Hornets. Nordin Amrabat replace Odion Ighalo

That's one goal in nine matches for the Nigerian now. It was a night of what-ifs for Watford's star man.

A couple of subs now. Mario Suarez comes on for Almen Abdi for Watford.

For United, meanwhile, Darmian replaces Marcos Rojo, who only recently returned from injury.

Around 20 minutes left in this one - will there be a winner?

The crowd is really getting behind this youthful United side now.

They've made a switch, too. Martial is playing through the centre, with Rashford out on the right side, where his pace is causing a problem.

The Red Devils are the dominant force at the moment.

Morgan Schneiderlin
Morgan Schneiderlin battles to retain the ball for Manchester United Getty Images

United are starting to up the pace at Old Trafford. And for the first time tonight, really, Watford are facing a period of sustained pressure.

The hosts are finally knocking on the door.

A flash of quality from Rashford. The youngster bursts down the right and tries to cross the ball.

But Gomes, in goal for Watford, blocks it and injures himself in the process. That was better from United, though.

Ighalo has another good effort on goal, but his left-footed strike evades the far post.

Watford are huffing and puffing - can they blow United's house down, or will they live to regret these missed chances?

Jesse Lingard is warming up at the moment. United may need to change their line-up - nothing is really working for them tonight.

Here's a reminder of the United bench:

Romero, McNair, Darmian, Riley, Lingard, Rothwell, Weir

Watford almost score, again.

Corner from the left side for Watford, nodded on and Rashford/De Gea clear off the line. The Reds are hanging on a bit here, in truth.

Once again, Watford are on the front foot early in the second half, creating some panic in the United backline.

Surely United will be punished at some stage this evening. Surely.

We're back underway at Old Trafford.

A curious 45 minutes of football, that.

United dominated the ball, but Watford should be winning this match, with Odion Ighalo guilty of wasting some good chances.

Will the Hornets live to regret that?

Fosu-Mensah on his Premier League debut Getty Images

Half time: Manchester United 0-0 Watford

United are still struggling to fashion chances at Old Trafford. Lots of possession but a real lack of cutting edge at the moment for the Reds.

They may be better served with pushing Martial up front alongside Rashford.

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford fights to win the ball Getty Images

Odion Ighalo has another great chance to open the scoring.

He races in behind the United defence, but David de Gea comes to the rescue of the home side - how many times have we said that this season?

The Red Devils look a bit disorganised at the back, but their goal remains intact.

The home side are lacking some zip in their play. The crowd has become less enthusiastic, too.

Perhaps the Old Trafford fans expected a repeat of Sunday's heroics. We haven't seen anything of the sought thus far.

United have plenty of pace in their side tonight, but there is also a noticeable lack of cohesion.

Of course, this team has never played together before - and it has shown in the opening 30 minutes or so.

Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera challenges for the ball Getty Images

Odion Ighalo has spurned another decent chance for the away side.

Troy Deeney nods the ball into his path - he turns and shoots, but it dribbles just wide of the goal.

The Hornets can't afford to keep missing these opportunities.

You sense Watford have a great chance to achieve something special this evening, with so many inexperienced players in the United line-up.

The hosts have largely dominated the ball, but Watford look very dangerous on the break.

It's still goalless at the moment, though.

Fosu-Mensah and Deeney do battle at Old Trafford Getty Images

Ohhhhh! Closest we've come to a goal so far this evening.

Watford clear a freekick to the edge of their area and Morgan Schneiderlin hits a first-time volley that just evades the post.

Would have been a brilliant goal, that.

Despite all of the pre-match hype, Marcus Rashford has barely had a kick so far. The youngster is trying to feed off scraps at the moment.

He'll be keen to add to his scoring tally this evening.

Watford are making every effort to win the ball high up the pitch, with some success, too.

It's been pretty lifeless stuff so far, with the two teams feeling each other out.

Up at the other end, meanwhile, and United come close to conceding the first goal.

Odion Ighalo finds himself in the home side's box, with his teammates open, but decides to shoot at goal.

The ball takes a deflection and goes behind for a corner, which is easily cleared.

Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera makes a tackle at Old Trafford Getty Images

Almost the opener for United as Holebas slices a cross towards his own goal. However, Gomes is able to collect the ball.

The home side have quickly assumed control here, though.

It looks like Martial will play from the right, and Depay from the left this evening.

That means Rashford is playing through the middle, as he has done during his brief career with the first team so far.

Mata is in the number 10 role, as you'd expect.

Rashford and Depay
Rashford and Depay before kick-off Getty Images

Watford have made a decent start, earning themselves the first corner of the evening. But it comes to nothing.

The away side aren't showing any signs of nerves, certainly.

Troy Deeney
Troy Deeney warming up before kick-off Getty Images

Some 25 years ago today, Ryan Giggs made his debut for Manchester United.

Can some of the Red Devils' youngsters start their journey towards stardom, like Giggs, tonight?

We're underway at Old Trafford...

Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs Getty

Recent meetings between these two teams:

  • November 21 2015: Watford 1-2 Manchester United (Premier League)
  • April 14 2007: Manchester United 4-1 Watford (FA Cup)
  • January 31 2007: Manchester United 4-0 Watford (Premier League)
  • August 26 2006: Watford 1-2 Manchester United (Premier League)
  • October 31 2000: Watford 0-3 Manchester United (League Cup)
Memphis Depay
United forward Memphis Depay scored against Watford earlier this season Getty

Not long to wait until kick-off now.

The players have been out on the Old Trafford turf going through their last-minute preparations.

With so many little-known players in the United team, this could be a very interesting evening.

Van Gaal's pre-match programme notes touch on the young players' inclusion this evening.

"A lot of credit must go to Nicky Butt and Warren Joyce, with whom I work very closely to identify young players who we believe have the quality and right attitude to make that step up into the first team," he shared.

"Age is not important to me because it is all about the qualities a player has."

Louis van Gaal
Van Gaal and Ryan Giggs in the dugout Getty

Timothy Fosu-Mensah is the third youngest Premier League starter for United, after Federico Macheda and Phil Neville.

Louis van Gaal recently confirmed Will Keane requires an operation for a groin injury he suffered during his side's 3-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Keane, 23, has already missed the last two fixtures and the Red Devils manager confirmed the frontman will go under the knife as he joins the long list of injured players at Old Trafford.

Will Keane
Will Keane returned from his loan spell with Preston earlier this season Getty

More from the United boss on squad rotation...

"When I have choice enough, then I rotate [my squad]. There's no player in the English Premier League who can cope with the rhythm of matches.

"A player like Rooney could always cope but he is injured and not for the first time. So I have to rotate," Van Gaal explained, as reported by

"I have [Wayne] Rooney, I have Martial, I have [Marcus] Rashford, I had Will Keane but Keane is injured and will be operated on. When I have more players, I will rotate."

Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney earlier this season Getty

Louis van Gaal on his team selection...

"[Michael Carrick] is rested because he played two matches in a row. He's not the youngest so we take no risks," he explained.

The Dutchman also hinted that Tim Fosu-Mensah will fill in at centre-back. "Smalling is not ready yet. I have faith in Timothy," he said.

Michael Carrick
Michael Carrick Getty

How are the Hornets shaping up?

Watford enter the fixture after settling for a goalless draw against AFC Bournemouth.

Their defensive record has been impressive as they have conceded only two goals in the last five matches.

Can they spring a surprise this evening?

Troy Deeney
Troy Deeney has been in fine form this season Getty Images

Louis van Gaal has a well-earned reputation for giving young players their chance in the first-team.

He's had plenty to say about United's latest youngster ahead of their game at Old Trafford.

"Youngsters often play well in the first match," he reflected. "The second is different. Marcus played well in both so he is a special talent. He could be a very positive surprise for Manchester United."

Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata
Marcus Rashford (left) and Juan Mata celebrate at Old Trafford Getty Images

Bastian Schweinsteiger remains on the sidelines for United's latest Premier League game. But the World Cup-winning midfielder is sure to be watching on.

Team Form

Manchester United

  • Last Five: W W W L L
  • Last Result: Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal


  • Last Five: D W W L W
  • Last Result: Watford 0-0 AFC Bournemouth
Louis van Gaal
Getty Images

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores suggested he would rotate his squad before the game at Old Trafford.

"I usually don't plan for more than one match but we are playing three very tough matches in seven days," Flores said in the Watford Observer. "Two of those teams, Bournemouth and Leicester, are amazing physically. And against Manchester United at Old Trafford I know the effort of the players will have to be really big.

"So the most important thing is to be fresh for the match. Maybe we will change players."

Quique Sanchez Flores

For Watford, meanwhile, there are four changes to their most-recent line-up. Nyom, Prödl, Holebas and Abdi come in for Paredes, Cathcart, Ake and Amrabat.

There's around 40 minutes until kick-off now, and the crowd is slowly building at Old Trafford.

The home side have a number of players able to play a variety of different positions in their side this evening, so it will be interesting to see how they line up.

It could well be that the returning Martial plays in one of the wide positions, with in-form Marcus Rashford starring as the lone centre-forward.

We'll have to wait to see if that is the case, though.

Old Trafford
Old Trafford prior to kick off Getty Images

Who is Tim Fosu-Mensah?

The 18-year-old Dutchman has been praised by his fellow countryman Louis van Gaal prior to the start of the game. Tonight is his first start for the Red Devils, having appeared as a sub against Arsenal on Sunday.

"I think I have already tried him as a right full-back in the second team," van Gaal told MUTV. "Through the circumstances, I have to do that because he is very fast and very fast with the ball.

"He can dribble, he can cross, but he can also play in the centre-half position or in midfield. He's a multi-functional player.

"But it is not easy to play in the first team when you are so young because the play is so quick, especially against Arsenal, because they are also moving the ball quickly. So it was a good debut for him."

Tim Fosu-Mensah
Tim Fosu-Mensah comes on against Arsenal Getty Images

Fosu-Mensah and Martial replace Carrick and Lingard for United. Surprisingly, perhaps, Juan Mata will captain the Red Devils.

Meanwhile, Joe Rothwell makes the matchday squad for the first time.

Breaking team news:

Gomes; Nyom, Britos, Prödl, Holebas; Capoue, Watson, Behrami; Abdi, Deeney; Ighalo

Pantilimon, Cathcart, Paredes, Ake, Suarez, Anya, Amrabat

Breaking team news:

De Gea; Varela, Blind, Rojo, Fosu-Mensah; Schneiderlin, Herrera; Martial, Mata, Memphis; Rashford

Romero, McNair, Darmian, Riley, Lingard, Rothwell, Weir

One man who is missing tonight is United midfielder and former Watford hero Ashley Young.

He'll no doubt be following this one keenly, though.

The United boss was generally upbeat about the fitness of his squad, following their recent player shortage.

He said: "Players are coming back in March, I think, but we have to build them up also. You have seen how I did it with Marcos Rojo – 20 minutes and then [the plan was for] 60 minutes, though he did not reach that."

Marcos Rojo
Marcos Rojo could return to action Getty Images

While we wait for the team news to come through, here's a reminder of what Louis van Gaal said in his pre-match press conference...

"Players are coming back. It is positive," Van Gaal told a press conference. "I think Martial can play, [Matteo] Darmian can play and maybe Smalling – we'll wait and see for tomorrow."

Anthony Martial
Martial has emerged as a key player for United this season Getty

Welbeck also hinted at more local players coming through the United academy in the coming years.

"Fletcher Moss was where it started for me and a lot of other players as well. It's vital that they get the stature back up again, get everything running smoothly again," Welbeck explained.

"There's a lot of talent in Manchester that grows up in and around that club. Hopefully it can keep going for many more years."

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford has enjoyed a prolific start to his senior Manchester United career AFP

Of course, in the build-up to the game, much of the attention has focused on 18-year-old star Marcus Rashford, who scored a brace against Arsenal.

Former United striker and current Arsenal star Danny Welbeck is among those who have praised the youngster.

He said: "We both grew up in Manchester, came through Fletcher Moss Rangers and then onto Manchester United, coming through the academy, making it into the first team and making a debut," Welbeck said,according to The Mirror.

"He's done brilliantly well. Individually I was really pleased for him, obviously to make a great debut like that in the Europa League and then into the weekend he did well."

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford in action for Manchester United against Arsenal Getty Images

Good evening and welcome to our coverage of the much-anticipated clash between Louis van Gaal's Manchester United and Watford.

The home side are on a high after their against-the-odds win over Arsenal at the weekend and will be looking for another triumph this evening.

We'll have the team news from Old Trafford for you shortly, so stay tuned.

Louis van Gaal