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Man United in second, five points behind Man City

Premier League “Big Six” title race getting hotter

England Premier League second-placed Manchester United closed the gap on cross-town rivals Manchester City to 5 points at the top of the EPL Table with a definitive 4-2 victory away at Vicarage Road. Although still off Man City’s pace, United enjoyed a positive result that now applies more scoreboard pressure to City and the other Big Six clubs. United are enjoying impressive momentum going into their holiday clashes and the continued presence of Romelu Lukaku up front. The Hornets did well to score two goals since the result could easily have been 7-0 in Man United’s favor. Four brilliant strikes gave Jose Mourinho’s side their thrilling away victory. Ashley Young’s sublime first-half free-kick flew into the top corner to open the scoring, his second a wonderful free-kick from 25 yards. Anthony Martial tucked in a fine finish from 18 yards out. United were leading 3-0 until the 77th minute when Watford Quickly netted twice to set up a tense finish. United’s Jesse Lingard scored a stunning 4th for the visitors, picking the ball up inside his own half and driving forward into the box to win the match. Mourinho’s team were well-deserved winner at Vicarage Road. Notable was the brilliance of Paul Pogba. Going forward United have a tricky through the holidays, and this win with a crucial 3 points is vital putting pressure on Manchester City at the top of the table and for the remaining Champions League spots.

Premier League Top Six Standings as of 11.28.2017
Manchester City 37 points
Manchester United 32 points
Chelsea 26 points
Arsena 35 points
Tottenham Hotspur 24 points
Liverpool 23 points

Watford 2-4 Manchester United
Watford goals: Troy Deeney 77 pen, Abdoulaye Doucoure 84
Man Utd goals: Ashley Young 19, Ashley Young 25, Anthony Martial 32, Jesse Lingard 86

Manchester United were running away from Watford in the first half as Ashley Young opened the scoring at Vicarage Road with two lovely goals to help open up a 3-0 lead after Anthony Martial scored in the 32 minute. Watford never gave up though, bringing it back late to 3-2, before Jesse Lingard took the game away from them in the 86th minute with a sublime solo late 4th, weaving his way from inside his own half to finish in front of a cheering away end. This fun match on a chilly, still night in Hertfordshire, England was a meeting of the sides of young, hopeful young Portuguese Watford manager Marco Silva, and Portuguese grand master and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho. Mourinho is often portrayed as a defensive tactical expert but at Vicarage Road it was United’s exuberant attacking play that brought victory against Watford when his aggressive side opened up a 3-0 lead before being set back by two goals late in a second-half rally by their tenacious rivals after Matic left the match due to injury.

“I prefer to forget the five minutes where we conceded the two goals,” said Mourinho. “I prefer to focus on all the good things we did. To play away from home and score four goals, we could have scored seven, eight; this was very, very good.” Watford’s rally began when Nemanja Matic left the pitch with a muscular injury. “For Matic to tell me he wants to be replaced, he does not do that if it is nothing important,” Mourinho added. “They came with everything, they had no problems, they gave us a couple of minutes of real pressure, where we felt anything could happen. This is football. What we needed to do was go back to our defensive stability, which we lost when Matic had to come out. But the important thing is the three points”

Romelu Lukaku did not score
“Lukaku needs a big contract with a new boots company; they need to pay him lots of money so that he can start scoring again,” Mourinho said. “He is such an amazing player for the team, such a good professional. He works so hard.” From Watford manager Marco Silva’s viewpoint his side lost on “details”, suggesting Marcos Rojo should have received a second yellow card towards the end. “We started very well the first 20 minutes,” Silva said. “I told my players it’s not our image to make a lot of mistakes; we need to do everything differently. Forget the result and play our game and we did differently in the second half. When we scored near the end for me that looked like a yellow card for Marcos Rojo and 11 versus 10 at that point would have been difficult. That for me looked fair at that moment.”

Mourinho gave young star Marcus Rashford a rest after 4 games in 14 days. United shifted to 3 at the back. Watford set out to press high as Richarlison man-marked center-half Victor Lindelof early on. It was brutal, high-class defense, helped by some scruffy defending. The first goal arrived after 19 minutes in a brilliant play by Young. Lingard ran through the center-forward position. The ball broke to Femenía, who failed to manage it. Young connected with his right foot and sent a low, hard, shot past Heurelho Gomes into the corner. It was Young’s first goal away from Old Trafford since March 2015, and only 6 minutes later he had his second. Paul Pogba ran through the heart of the midfield, but Doucouré dragged him back. From 25 yards Young curled a lovely free-kick into the top corner, a perfect execution from Young who competed for Watford 10 years ago. Young was recently offered a new contract that would keep him at United until the age of 34. On 32 minutes it was 3-0. Christian Kabasele failed to clear. The ball fell to Lingard who nudged a pass to Anthony Martial, who ran on and finished expertly. Pogba appeared to have complete control of midfield, ready to find the right pass. Lingard should have scored but Gomes made a brilliant, sprawling save. Richarlison hit the top of the bar with a header and at half-time Watford left the pitch looking tired and beaten. After the break, Pogba continued to be dangerous to Watford. Nemanja Matic went off, as did Hughes, followed by Martial, to be rested for the battle against Arsenal on Saturday. Romelu Lukaku almost scored but delayed too long in front of a near-open goal. With 77 minutes gone Watford had a penalty after Marcos Rojo hacked down Roberto Pereyra. Troy Deeney tucked it into the corner. As Vicarage Road roared Doucouré pulled another back with a neat low shot before Lingard’s grandstand finish. Romulu Lukaku who did not score against Watford is United’s top scorer with 12 goals in all competitions. Lukaku escaped a three-match ban for an alleged off-the-ball kick at Brighton & Hove Albion’s Gaëtan Bong after a Football Association panel of three former referees did not reach a unanimous decision that it was a red-card offense. The incident occurred in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Saturday. TV images showed Lukaku kicking back towards Bong at the 66th-minute corner from which Ashley Young’s deflected shot gave United victory. The FA was informed that the referee, Neil Swarbrick, and his assistants were not aware of it, causing the case to be referred to the panel. Each of the former referees reviewed the footage independently. Lukaku would have missed the trip to Watford on Tuesday, the trip to Arsenal on Saturday, and the Manchester Derby on Sunday week if he had been banned. Against Watford Lukaku failed to find the net for the 10th time in 11 matches but José Mourinho insisted he was unconcerned.

“He didn’t score,” said Lukaku’s Portuguese boss Mourinho voicing an honest opinion. “I don’t care.” When Lukaku was averaging a goal a game earlier in the season, Mourinho’s said that it did not matter. When Lukaku opened his league account against West Ham, Mourinho stated that there was “no pressure from me”. After Lukaku struck in the win over his former club Everton, Mourinho said, “He knows that for me there is no pressure for goalscoring.” “In the last minute he was fighting and running back like he was in the first minute so I think it is also a mentality question,” said Mourinho about Lukaku’s performance against Watford that had a part in United’s winner that stemmed from a contentious corner. The way Lukaku won it, Mourinho suggested, was “phenomenal”.

“The way Romelu ends the game making tackles in the left-back position: that is the mentality I want,” Mourinho said. “And unfortunately not every player is the same,” Mourinho said of former Chelsea and Everton forward Lukaku. “Players are men, men are different. Men are unique cases. Some guys are capable to go into the limits of their efforts and some other guys, even with a lot of talent, they don’t manage to do that, so Romelu for me was fantastic.” Of interest is that in the past, Mourinho’s center-forward has never won the Golden Boot in the seasons when he won the Premier League.

Watford made one change to the starting XI that defeated Newcastle at the weekend. Sebastian Prodl replaced Miguel Britos; it’s his first start since August. Manchester United kept the side that beat Brighton except for Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford who dropped to the bench, making way for Marcus Rojo and Jesse Lingard. This is Rojo’s first appearance in the Premier League since April.

Watford: Gomes, Mariappa, Kabasele, Prodl, Femenia, Doucoure, Cleverley, Zeegelaar, Hughes, Gray, Richarlison.
Subs: Janmaat, Deeney, Wague, Carrillo, Capoue, Karnezis, Pereyra.
Manchester United: de Gea, Lindelof, Smalling, Rojo, Valencia, Pogba, Matic, Young, Lingard, Martial, Lukaku.
Subs: Mata, Ibrahimovic, Rashford, Romero, Ander Herrera, Darmian, McTominay.
Referee: Jonathan Moss (County Durham).

What is next for Manchester United?
Coming up for Manchester United are their trip to Arsenal on Saturday and the Manchester Derby on Sunday week. Buy all Manchester United tickets for the England Premier League, Manchester Derby, and Champions League securely now online from 1st4FootballTickets.com!

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