Manchester United v Watford
Saturday, 15:00

Gunnar be a party atmosphere

What's Norwegian and bears the promise of a brighter future? No, sorry, Brexit fans, it's actually Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, now not only at the wheel, but also the owner of a nice new three-year contract at Manchester United. They say the Molde ones are the best, and the Baby-Faced Assassin has certainly made a convincing start: it's 14 wins from 19 games, and while there was a small blip before the international break, the top four is still in sight.
The honeymoon period won't last forever: Solskjaer will need to prove his ability to spot a player in the transfer market, and manage relationships with those above him. United could still probably do with a director of football to help these things along. But the enthusiasm that has characterised the former striker's first few months in charge is unlikely to be lacking in the years ahead.
This weekend, he may have some absences to work around: Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial are all doubts at the time of writing. The likes of Diogo Dalot, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira are likely to be on standby, but the lack of other out-and-out strikers will have Solskjaer crossing his fingers that at least one of Lukaku and Rashford is fit enough to start.

Watford must improve in toughest away games

Watford have been cast as the fall guys in Solskjærfest 2019, but there's no real reason to expect them to submit here. Javi Gracia's side are enjoying a fine season and went into the international break on a high, having secured an FA Cup semi-final berth. With Wolves in the next round, that competition must now be their main priority, although Gracia will also be keen not to allow an improving Leicester side to leapdrog them in the league standings.
The Spaniard will also be hoping to reverse a frustrating trend: Watford's last 13 away games against the so-called 'Big Six' have all ended in defeat. Gracia wasn't in charge for all of those, however, and while there have been some results to forget (the 5-0 capitulation at Liverpool stands out), they acquitted themselves well against Tottenham and were massively unlucky to ship three goals against Manchester City. An improvement may just be coming.

Beware Hornets' sting

That Watford away record, coupled with the feelgood factor at Old Trafford, is represented in the odds: United are 1.46 to win this one, with their visitors 8.60 long shots. And while we like Solskjaer's chances of celebrating his new deal with a win, that's too short a price for us; United drew at home to Burnley (0-0) and were slightly unconvincing against Brighton (2-1) and Southampton (3-2).
Watford are better than all of those sides, and once we factor in potential absences for United, there's actually a half-decent case for opposing them. Watford +1.0 & +1.5 on the Asian handicap stands out at 1.91; we'd be in profit if they avoid a defeat by two goals or more.

French fancy for a goal

With doubts over Lukaku and Rashford, the best pick in the goalscorer markets may be Paul Pogba. He has scored eight of his 22 Premier League goals since Solskjaer took the reins at United, and is perhaps the player who has most enjoyed life under the Norwegian. With penalties in his locker, odds of 2.50 tempt.
Back Watford +1.0 & +1.5 at 1.91

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