Premier League preview: Watford vs. Man United

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  • Three teams, including Watford, remain perfect
  • Watford: 3rd place, 12/12 points
  • Man United: 10th place, 6/12 points

One of three remaining Premier League sides with a 100-percent win record looks to make it five wins in five games when Watford host Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).

Last time out, it was Javi Gracia‘s Hornets who shocked previously unblemished Tottenham Hotspur with a comeback victory at Vicarage Road to join Liverpool and Chelsea among the ranks of early-season perfection. Gracia was justly named PL Manager of the Month for August. It’s been a full team effort for Watford as six different players have contributed at least one goal, but Roberto Pereyra has led the way and proven himself the star of the side with three goals in four games. After arriving from Juventus in the summer of 2016, the Argentine failed to impress during his first two seasons in the PL, but Gracia has gotten the most out of the 27-year-old thus far and will again rely heavily upon Pereyra against what could very well be a defensive-minded Man United side on Saturday.

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As for United, it’s been a stressful start to the season for Jose Mourinho and Co. Following back-to-back losses to Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur, the Red Devils bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Burnley before the international break. Mourinho has come under plenty of scrutiny, but he remains defiant that no one can do the job better than he can, and a handful of his players have spoken out publicly in support of the manager (see below). Luke Shaw is expected to be available for selection after suffering a concussion while playing for England, but the same can’t be said for Marcus Rashford who will be suspended for the next three games after head-butting Phil Bardsley in the game against Burnley.

What they’re saying

Gracia, on keeping the good times rolling: “When you start something you always think you will be good but you do not know if you will be able to achieve four wins in a row. But we are in a good moment — we are enjoying it. We know in the future the competition will put us in our place. … We know it will be a very demanding game. But playing at Vicarage Road we feel strong and think we are able to beat all the other teams, knowing at the same time if we don’t give 100% we can lose.”

Romelu Lukaku, on Mourinho putting his real self on display: “Sometimes footballers, we get soft a little bit. If I listen to players from back in the day and now, a manager cannot say what he wants to a player because you feel attacked. … My relationship with him is cool. He makes me laugh, he makes the players laugh, he’s a real family guy. He fights for his players, but he’s real. When you’re not happy, you don’t need to fake your emotions. … You should respect that he wants to keep his own personality and not shy away from confrontation. Here, he really wants us to improve.”

Prediction

Watford made the most of their set-piece chances against Tottenham, and United have already conceded twice on set pieces this year. It’ll be a much tighter affair than the sum of transfer fees might suggest, and Watford have enough to make it a 1-1 draw.