With seven Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 18.
Watford v. Manchester United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
If this had not been said already: Watford are in trouble.
The Hornets have yet to win a home match this season, with their last win at Vicarage Road dating back to April. Over 17 games this season, Watford have registered one win – a 2-0 win over Norwich City in November – conceding 32 goals along the way. At home, Watford have scored four goals this season – a Premier League-low.
With the odds definitely against him, it is tough seeing recently-appointed Nigel Pearson overturning, possibly even if club owner Gino Pozzo commits to revamping the squad over the winter transfer window.
“It’s stating the obvious – it’s clear to everybody we need to affect our fortunes as soon as possible,” the 56-year-old said ahead of Sunday’s match.
“We’ve got another difficult game and when you play against Manchester United you know they’ve got quality, they’ve got players who are very capable of being match winners, so the most important thing for us is to raise our own levels of performance and find a level of consistency that will generate a better feeling within our fan base.”
Meanwhile, over in Manchester, the aura is overwhelmingly unrecognizable. United are riding a six-game unbeaten streak in Premier League play, and are in their best shape this season.
As a result, the talk at Old Trafford has been the first team’s ascendance over the past few months, but it’s quickly becoming the January transfer window.
Is Erling Haaland reuniting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the Theatre of Dreams? Are Paul Pogba‘s days numbered with the Red Devils? These are the type of questions that the Norwegian manager is taking on.
“As a manager, you always hope you can do something but, then again, it’s not something that’s nailed on,” he said regarding United’s potential signings over the winter transfer window.
“It has to be the right player, the right age, he’s got to fit into this squad and for the right value. We’re always looking and the transfer window will be open but it might not happen.”
Getting three points at Vicarage Road doesn’t pose as a daunting task, obviously.
INJURIES: Watford — OUT: Cleverley (calf), Holebas (ankle), Janmaat (knee), Prödl (knee), Welbeck (hamstring) | Manchester United — OUT: Bailly (knee), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Pogba (ankle)
Tottenham v. Chelsea — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
For the first team in a Premier League match, Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard will square off as managers.
And if Derby County’s win against Manchester United via penalties in the Carabao Cup last year told us anything it’s that the student learned a lot from his master.
“I am happy to go up against Jose [Mourinho], it was a big deal last year [with Derby against Manchester United],” Chelsea boss Lampard said when asked about playing against a Mourinho-led Spurs.
“I have a big respect for him,” he added. “The big thing is Chelsea versus Spurs, it is what the rivalry means to my players.”
For a second time in his storied managerial career, Mourinho will take on Chelsea – the club he managed for nearly six years – representing a different English club. For the first time ever, however, the match will be a derby.
So, is the Portuguese in any sort of emotional quandary going up against his former team and his former standout player?
“I am 100% Tottenham,” he stated. “I am 100% my club always. No space at all for my previous clubs. I gave everything to all of them, but they are my previous clubs.”
“My club is Tottenham so it’s so, so easy for me,” he said. “Not difficult from the emotional side of things.”
Now that sound like the Mourinho, who knows that there’s a clear pathway to dethrone Chelsea from the fourth position with a win.
INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Lamela (hamstring), Lloris (elbow), Davies (ankle) | Chelsea — OUT: Loftus-Cheek (achilles)