Five talking points from Manchester United's win over Watford
Memphis Depay as a sense of theatre, United need to keep the ball on the floor and Heurelho Gomes remains an accident waiting to happen.
Young warmly remembered in Watford
Unlike at Villa Park, where his every touch is booed to the echo every time he returns with Manchester United, at the announcements of the teams before kick off at Vicarage Road, Ashley Young’s name was greeted with polite applause.
Few who remembered him here as a flying winger, scoring 19 goals in his four years scorching the touchline, would have imagined him returning at right-back. And the way he was brushed off the ball by Odion Ighalo and left scrabbling on the turf as Watford barrelled forward hardly insisted it was his natural home.
Fortunately for him, Louis Van Gaal responded to Ander Herrera’s injury on 25 minutes by switching to a back three. Young was pushed forward to wing back.
And he enjoyed the space, when Bastian Schweinsteiger's pass found him midway through the second half he galloped forward to fizz in a cross. Though his fondness of his old club did not stop him cheerfully upending Ighalo on the breakaway and thus earning himself a rightful yellow card.
Depay has a sense of theatre
Aware that he was the centre of attention on his return to the side, the self-confident young Dutchman rose to the occasion. Starting on the left side of the United attack, he was busy, engaged, always in search of the ball. And, after quarter of an hour, as Herrera and Young exchanged passes on the right wing, he sped into the middle of the Watford box.
When Herrera bent in a rich invitation of a cross, he stepped in front of the statuesque home defence to drive the ball high past Heurelho Gomes to open the scoring.
He almost got a second after an hour, feinting and checking his way into the box, before drifting a shot but inches wide. It was a pointed return for a player whose self-discipline has been latterly questioned. And it is one for which Louis Van Gaal, congratulating himself for his imaginative man management, will doubtless take credit.
Hitting the big man isn't an option for United
With a front three of Mata, Lingard and Depay, who, on top of each others shoulders are no taller than Peter Crouch, United were obliged to keep in on the ground. Which made you wonder, as Lingard and Depay spent much of the game looking to make runs in behind the Watford full backs, who Marcos Rojo thought he was playing behind when he three times ballooned hoiks forward, to be picked off easily by Watford defenders.
If you want a penalty scoring, give it to Deeney
When Rojo compounded a wretched afternoon by needlessly wrestled Odion Ighalo to gift Watford a way back into the game with only five minutes left, there was no doubt in the Watford crowd’s mind who would take it. Deeney’s name rang out from the home end. And after twice seeing decent shots saved by David De Gea, the Watford captain wasn’t going to miss his chance to score from the spot.
No subtlety, no placement, no calculation, just whack it is the Deeney methodology. And boy it worked. Though how short-lived was the relief which bounced around the stands.
Gomes remains an accident waiting to happen
When, midway through the first half, the keeper whose catastrophic error had precipitated defeat in the last game against Leicester, spooned a clearance high into the air, an anxious groan spun round the ground. As the ball boomeranged back into the danger zone, heads were shook.
Later, a skewed clearance directly into touch was greeted with another collective intake of breath. And while he did save well from Depay, David De Gea’s two stops from two Deeney pile drivers provided compelling evidence of the difference a solid keeper can make.
How the home suppoorters wished De Gea had been in their goal when Schweinsteiger pulled the ball back across goal in the last minute of normal time. But he wasn’t and with Gomes stranded, the German scrambled home the winner.