40-Year Wait Almost Over? The Plethora Of Unwanted Records Watford Need To Bring To An End Against Manchester United
The Premier League returns this weekend after a two-week hiatus, with a smorgasbord of tantalising fixtures to feast upon.
On Saturday afternoon, 13-time EPL champions Manchester United welcome a Watford side that will achieve their own personal record-points haul in the Premier League era with a win at Old Trafford, surpassing the tally of 43 achieved with manager Quique Sánchez Flores in 2015/16, and are well on course for their highest ever finish in that same period.
However, that mini-celebration of an individual record-breaking season might have to put on ice, judging by Watford’s woeful record against top-dollar opposition and their previous form against the Red Devils.
What makes for poor reading for those travelling Hornets venturing up to the North-West, Manchester United have won 10 of their last 11 Premier League matches against Watford, suffering their own loss in September 2016 - at Vicarage Road - thanks to strikes by Etienne Capoue, Camilo Zúñiga, and the talismanic Troy Deeney.
Even more worryingly, the last time Watford achieved a victory at Old Trafford came over four decades ago!
James Callaghan was the Prime Minister when the Hertfordshire outfit won their only game at Old Trafford against the Red Devils, coming in a 2-1 league victory in the League Cup in October 1978, thanks to a Luther Blissett brace.
In fact, Watford haven’t won at all in the great city of Manchester since 1987, in another 2-1 win, this time over the Cityzens at Maine Road.
Watford haven’t bagged a win across 11 away league visits to Manchester United, having lost nine and drawn two. Only now-League One side Luton Town have played more away matches against Man United without a victory (with 15).
Watford’s record against the ‘Big Six’ altogether is one to make fans squirm. Since their return to the Premier League in 2015, Watford have taken just four points from 66 available away against ‘Big Six’ sides, losing their last 13 in a row. That solitary win came in a 2-1 victory at the Emirates over Arsenal in January 2017, with Younes Kaboul and Deeney on the scoresheet for the visitors.
However, with their journey up north this latest gameweek, there may be hope for Javi Gracia’s men this time round which would make all those records and statistics completely irrelevant.
With defensive woes well documented this season, Manchester United have kept just two clean sheets at home in the Premier League in 18/19, coming in drab stalemates with Crystal Palace and Liverpool, with only 19th-placed leaking vessel Fulham keeping fewer (one).
United have conceded a top-six high of 18 goals in the league at Old Trafford so far, making it seem certain that defensive reinforcements will be incoming this summer.
Following their loss away at Arsenal before the international break, fans flocking to The Theatre of Dreams will be wary that Manchester United haven’t lost consecutive league games since August, when they were under Jose Mourinho.
Interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done extremely well to dispel memories of his Portuguese predecessor, but echoes will certainly start to creep in if his United side capitulate to Watford this weekend.
Furthermore, following back-to-back defeats at the Emirates and, in the FA Cup, to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Man Utd haven’t lost three consecutive games in all competitions since September 2016, when they lost to Manchester City, and a Champions League meeting with Eredivisie side Feyenoord.
That third defeat? A 3-1 loss to Watford…
Manchester United versus Watford kicks off at Old Trafford at 15:00 (GMT) on Saturday 30th April 2019.