Manchester United were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw against Watford at Old Trafford in the Premier League, despite the abundance of chances they had.
It first looked to be a promising night for the hosts, as Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post early on, but as the first half went by with only one shot on target from 10 attempts, it looked to be one of those nights.
The second half saw more of the same, with United’s best chance coming in the 56th minute when Anthony Elanga, who scored the equaliser mid-week against Atletico Madrid, had the opportunity to put his side ahead. A great flick from Paul Pogba landed straight into the teenager’s pathway but his shot went just wide.
It continued to be a frusturating night for Manchester United as later on, Elanga himself got in the way and managed to block Ronaldo’s own shot from close range.
Watford, who had 33% possession, were happy to let United control the game, as long as they didn’t concede. Defensively, they sat deep, and attempted to clear any of United’s loose balls. Ben Foster, who made three saves, was constantly vocal in organizing his backline, which included Samir and Craig Cathcart, who had a total of 12 clearances combined. The visitor’s best chance of the game came in stoppage time when Ismaila Sarr got on the end of the clearance and attempted to curl it in from just outside the penalty box, only for the ball to go wide.
Next weekend, United will look to put this match behind them and prove a point as they head to the Etihad for the Manchester Derby. They still sit in fourth, but Arsenal are now two points behind them, with three games in hand.
This point is huge for Watford, but the task of avoiding relegation does not get much easier. They sit in 19th and are three points away from safety. They’ll be hoping for a similar result next weekend when they host the Gunners.
Manchester United cannot score. Man United had so many chances to kill off the game, but the final ball just wasn’t there.
The overall build up was quite impressive, and there is a clear improvement from United’s 4-1 loss to Watford back in November.
In this matchup, United easily cut through Watford’s defence again and again, but with a total of 22 shots and only three on target, it’s clear that some time in training needs to be devoted to finishing.
This isn’t a one-off. Yes, they scored four against Leeds last week. However, overall this team has failed to show that they can consistently score goals. One only has to look at their games against Atletico Madrid, Southampton, Burnley, and Middlesbrough to see the pattern.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Moussa Sissoko (Watford). Watford were not necessarily pleasing on the eye, nor were they entertaining, but they held on to the point due to their deep defensive play. In the second half especially, they were able to limit United on the flanks, something that the home team had great pleasure in exploiting during the first half.
At the forefront of it all was Moussa Sissoko, who was able to get back and defend well against Bruno Fernandes and Alex Telles. At the same time, the captain was able to burst forward during the few chances Watford had.
A close second is Samir, whose four clearances and two blocked shots ensured that the visitors maintained their clean sheet. Not an easy feat when you’re up against Ronaldo and Pogba.
MAN UTD: De Gea 6, Wan-Bissaka 7, Lindelof 7, Varane 7, Telles 7, Fred 6, Matic 7, Elanga 6, Fernandes 6, Pogba 8, Ronaldo 6… Subs: Shaw 6,, Sancho 6, Rashford 6.
WATFORD: Foster 7, Ngakia 6, Cathcart 6, Samir 8, Kamara 6, Sissoko 8, Louza 7, Cleverley 7, Sarr 7, King 6, Dennis 6… Subs: Kabasele 6, Kucka 6, Sema 7.
10’ – CHANCE! MAN UTD 0-0 WATFORD. After some great build-up from United, Elanga attempts a volley that goes over the bar. Watford are extremely passive and sitting deep. As expected.
12’ – SAVE! MAN UTD 0-0 WATFORD. Foster comes up with a huge save against Fernandes! United are able to break with Elanga to Ronaldo who backheels the ball back to him. Elanga then finds Fernandes and the midfielder is in a great position as he is one on one with Foster. However, the Watford keeper makes himself big and blocks the shot.
27’ – CHANCE! MAN UTD 0-0 WATFORD. Ronaldo’s tricks leave Foster stumbling which means that Watford has an open net! Ronaldo passes it to Fernandes who is under no pressure, but somehow the midfielder’s header doesn’t even hit the target!
48’- CHANCE! MAN UTD 0-0 WATFORD. Matic dinks it to Pogba with a great pass, but Pogba can’t seem to get it right, and the ball goes wide. United again with the chances in this half. Can they score?
56’- CHANCE! MAN UTD 0-0 WATFORD. How has he missed? A great flick from Pogba gives Elanga a chance to put United up as he beats Foster, but it goes just wide. Everyone at Old Trafford thought it went in!