Manchester United travelled to the Vicarage Road in a bid to reverse the trend after losing back to back games to Manchester City and Feyenoord. Etienne Capoue began the proceedings in the 34th minute when he found the back of the net from a Daryl Janmaat cross after Anthony Martial was dispossessed off the ball by Miguel Britos.
After huffing their way through the game, Manchester United finally equalised in the 62nd minute when Rashford latched on to a loose ball and nodded it home for the visitor.
However, it was not to be a day of happy endings for United as Juan Zuniga scored within a minute after coming on for Capoue in the 83rd minute and then Troy Deeney added to the visitor’s misery by converting the penalty that was awarded to them after Fellaini fouled Zuniga in the box.
#1 Manchester United’s defensive frailties exposed yet again
One trait that has often been associated with a Jose Mourinho-led side is its tight defence. However, the current Manchester United team is already turning out to be myth busters with their defensive performances this season. The side has now conceded 6 goals in 3 games and could have gone to concede some more if not for efforts of David De Gea as well as the wastefulness of the opposition.
The pair of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly was put under severe threat time and again by the Watford attackers and visibly lacked communication in various critical situations. They failed to win consistently in the air and were equally inept at winning on the ground, presenting Watford with numerous chances during the game.
The second Watford goal serves as a reminder of the lack of defensive communication and discipline in the side as neither of the players around the box managed to track the run of Pereyra into the box, thus presenting the Hornets with an easy chance to knock into the back of the net.
Alarmingly, even David De Gea, who has been hailed as the best keeper in the league has failed to maintain a hold of his box and the United faithful will not be too pleased with that.
#2 Capoue continues with his good form
While the likes of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have been at the forefront of Watford’s resurgence in English football, it is the former Tottenham man Etienne Capoue, who is establishing himself as the most vital player in the squad.
The 28-year-old Frenchman made it 4 goals in 5 appearances with a well-taken effort in the first half to start the proceedings against Manchester United and capped it up with a brilliant performance in the middle of the park.
He is being afforded time and space to operate behind the opposition midfielders and has been relieved of certain defensive duties by a rock solid Behrami, which is definitely having a positive impact on his game. He made vital contributions on both ends of the pitch during the game against United, creating 1 goal scoring opportunity and finding the back of the net while also ensuring he does his fair share of defensive work with tackles, interceptions and clearances.
After a rather underwhelming 2 seasons at White Hart Lane, the Frenchman is keen to re-establish himself as one of the best French players in the world and if his performances for Watford is any indication, he should be in the contention for making a comeback with the French National team soon.
#3 The problem lies with United’s midfield
In simple words, the Manchester United midfield remains one of the most unintimidating ones in the league despite the acquisition of costly reinforcements at the club. They were not combative enough, afforded Watford time and space on the ball and failed to provide cover to their centre-backs and had to consequentially pay the heavy price of being on the losing side for the third game in a row.
Neither of Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini provided a solid presence in the middle of the park and were constantly hassled and bullied by the Watford midfield despite their size as well as reputation. The inability to dominate proceedings might be stemming from the lack of enforcers, one who can take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn it around and United would be wise to bring a player into that mould into the playing eleven.
Additionally, the midfield has failed to add to the creativity of the side and it was evident until the arrival of Juan Mata in the second half during the game. The side failed to break down the Watford defence and were playing second fiddle for large durations of the game.
For United to reverse the trend, they will need to field a midfield that could do the job in defence as well as attack. At the moment, it is doing neither and the results of the same are out for everyone to see.
#4 Wayne Rooney needs to go
Despite being Manchester United’s captain, Wayne Rooney has been one of the worst players on the pitch and it remains to be seen how much longer Jose Mourinho will be keen to retain him in his starting 11 after a series of unimpressive performances in the middle of the park.
He was careless with his passing, failed to contain the Watford midfield and was easily dispossessed off the ball on numerous occasions and left Mourinho with no reason to back him for a starting role at the club.
While he has been his side’s leading creator with 12 goal scoring opportunities so far, it can be argued that should Juan Mata be afforded the amount of time Rooney has been afforded, he could prove to be an even better asset to the side than he currently is.
Many fans believe that the biggest mistake David Moyes made during his time at Manchester United was heeding to his demands and ensuring he becomes one of the highest-paid players at the club and Europe and the decision might be coming back to haunt the club as Rooney is virtually guaranteed a start on the basis of his reputation rather than merit.
Jose Mourinho has a reputation for being a man who is not afraid to make tough decisions and we do not foresee any reason why he should shy away from benching the captain given his performances in recent times.
#5 United’s attack proves to be toothless
After their midweek disaster at Feyenoord, it did not come as a surprise that Jose Mourinho decided to field the quartet of Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial and yet, the side failed to live up to its reputation as one of the most threatening in the league.
They were well contained by the trio of Craig Cathcart, Prodl and Miguel Britos in the air as well as on the ground and goal scoring chances were sporadic to come by during the game. Ibrahimovic, given his age, is not very mobile on the ball and Rooney too seems to have fallen behind by a few yards when it comes to pace.
United were heavily reliant on the likes of Martial and Rashford to get behind the Watford backline to create anything meaningful. Unfortunately, the injury to Martial meant the side had to bring on Ashley Young, who no longer is the kind of player he was at Aston Villa.
Though they created 7 goalscoring opportunities during the game, they did not look threatening enough and the same has been evident from the Manchester derby, where the side were presented with a lifeline in the game only due to Claudio Bravo’s error rather than its own attacking abilities.
After 3 consecutive losses in a season for the first time in over 10 years, Jose Mourinho will need to work out a stellar plan of action to avoid a further slide in his reputation.