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WATCH LIVE: Watford vs. Manchester United

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Watford looks to stay perfect on the season with a challenging visit from Manchester United at Vicarage Road on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

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Marcus Rashford serves the first of his three-match suspension for United, who use a front three of Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku, and Alexis Sanchez.

It’ll again be Troy Deeney and Andre Gray up top for the Hornets.

LINEUPS

Watford: Foster, Holebas, Kabasele, Cathcart, Janmaat, Pereyra, Capoue, Doucoure, Hughes, Deeney, Gray. Subs: Gomes, Mariappa, Femenia, Masina, Chalobah, Sema, Success.

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Young, Fellaini, Matic, Pogba, Lingard, Lukaku, Sanchez. Subs: Grant, Bailly, Darmian, Fred, Mata, McTominay, Martial.

Mourinho accuses journalists of ‘obsession’ with him

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Jose Mourinho is playing games in the media again.

There’s been plenty of talk about Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford in the last few days, with some debating how good he truly is, how much playing time he’s earned, and whether he’s rotting away on the Old Trafford bench. So, the Manchester United manager has resorted to the oldest deflection trick in his book to take the pressure off his young England international – make it all about the boss instead.

When asked if he believes Rashford has earned more playing time after scoring twice for England over the international break, Mourinho gave a sarcastic response, making his feelings towards the media well known. “I think I can expect that Sunday I’m going to be highly criticized for not playing him,” Mourinho said, knowing that Rashford is suspended this weekend due to his sending off last time out, “because some of the boys are really obsessed with me and some of them have a problem with some compulsive lies.”

“I can expect that Sunday some of them will wake up in the morning and the first thing they think is Jose Mourinho, so I can imagine on Sunday I am going to be criticized for not playing Marcus but it’s not my fault, he’s suspended,” Mourinho said. “Probably you should remind them he is suspended and cannot play.”

Mourinho came with a prepared list of statistics he read off to the media highlighting his belief that Rashford has played a significant amount of time. He noted that Rashford eclipsed 3,000 minutes in the 2016/17 season across all competitions, and then accumulated another 2,676 minutes in the 2017/18 season. Last campaign, Rashford made 35 Premier League appearances – 18 of them starts – completing at least 80 minutes just 10 times. He also appeared in all eight of Manchester United’s Champions League games, although he started just three of them and averaged just 43 minutes a game.

The Manchester United boss also took an interesting shot at a trio of Chelsea youngsters who happened to at one time be England youth international teammates of Rashford, seeming to subversively criticize Chelsea’s sparing use of its youth products. “Marcus Rashford is not Dominic Solanke. He is not Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he is not Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He is Marcus Rashford, a Manchester United player, with an incredible number of appearances and an incredible number of minutes played at the highest level in the best possible competitions. So Manchester United supporters, for you and just for you, to know what we are doing with Marcus Rashford, that’s what we are doing here.”

Mourinho says he felt the need to read off numbers because the media doesn’t paint a fair picture of Rashford’s role within the squad.

“But for the Manchester United supporters it is important they have the right idea of how things are in reality but the most important thing of all is that the kid is a good kid, a good player, knows what Manchester United did for him. Since I was here, he was never one day out of selection because of my decision, only if he was injured or suspended. He was never ever out of a selection, so he knows and that’s the most important thing.”

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.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 5 ]

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.

WATCH: Marcus Rashford scores again for England

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Marcus Rashford‘s going to return to Manchester a much happier man.

Sent off for a confrontation with Phil Bardsley in Manchester United’s win over Burnley before the international break, Rashford has scored in consecutive matches for England.

The most recent goal came Tuesday at King Power Stadium in a friendly against Switzerland, as Rashford got on the end of a cross from Man City defender Kyle Walker and coolly slotted a volley into the goal to give the Three Lions a 1-0 lead.

[ MORE: USMNT-Mexico preview ]

The 20-year-old now has five goals for England.

UEFA Nations wrap: England falls to Spain after contentious ending

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The opening week of UEFA Nations League action continued on Saturday with a number of 2018 World Cup sides featuring.

[ MORE: USMNT loss to Brazil still shows hope for future ]

Spain’s encounter with fourth-place World Cup finishers England highlighted the day’s action, as La Furia Roja came away with a victory at Wembley Stadium.

The Three Lions will feel they were robbed of at least a point, after England had a late Danny Welbeck stoppage-time equalizer taken away for a foul committed against David De Gea.

Marcus Rashford had given the Three Lions the early advantage after a tremendous through ball from Manchester United teammate Luke Shaw, but it was quickly cancelled out by Saul Niguez’s equalizer in the 13th minute.

Then, Rodrigo brilliantly converted from close range just beyond the hour mark to give Spain the lead, and Luis Enrique’s side held on from that point.

England suffered a massive blow in the second half as well, with Shaw being stretchered off following a clash of heads with Dani Carvajal.

Elsewhere, Switzerland and Belarus were both big winners on the day, with 6-0 and 5-0 victories, respectively.

The Swiss benefitted from six different goalscorers in their outing against fellow World Cup side Iceland, including Xherdan Shaqiri‘s 53rd minute free kick from the right wing.

Saturday’s UEFA Nations League results

Northern Ireland 1-2 Bosnia & Herzegovina
Switzerland 6-0 Iceland
Finland 1-0 Hungary
Belarus 5-0 San Marino
England 1-2 Spain
Estonia 0-1 Greece
Luxembourg 4-0 Moldova