Despite a raft of injuries, picked up before and during the visit to Watford, Manchester United earned a dramatic 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road with Memphis Depay scoring on his return to the side and Bastian Schweinsteiger playing his part in an injury-time winner.
In a game dominated by Louis van Gaal’s men in the first half and controlled by the Hornets in the second, Memphis’s fine first-half goal and an own goal from Troy Deeney, who had equalised for Watford, secured a vital win and, at least temporarily, took United top of the table. David De Gea’s part in the win cannot be overlooked either after a string of top saves from the Spanish stopper.
Van Gaal made four changes to the side that started the Reds’ last match against West Brom, with Phil Jones, Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Memphis all coming in. They replaced the injured pairing of Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, who is ill, and Marcos Rojo, who was named on the bench after a long journey back from South America for international duty. After recently including youngsters Axel Tuanzebe and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson in his matchday squad, van Gaal named two more prospects among the substitutes – striker Marcus Rashford and midfielder Sean Goss.
Another homegrown talent who has impressed so much in recent weeks, Jesse Lingard, got United on the attack from the off, and was inches away from connecting with Juan Mata’s right-wing cross with just a minute on the clock. And it wasn’t long before the Reds took the lead.