Man United in ‘the Christmas spirit’ as they waste possession advantage vs. lowly Watford

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If Christmas is a time for putting others’ needs before your own, then Manchester United’s generosity in a 2-0 defeat at Vicarage Road was to be applauded.

Watford went into their final fixture before Christmas bottom of the Premier League table, without a home league win since April and as the only team in Europe’s five major leagues yet to reach double figures in league goals. When David de Gea’s calamitous error allowed Ismaila Sarr to put the hosts in front in the 50th minute, it was the first time Watford had taken the lead in a league game in front of their own fans this campaign. Watford’s 2-0 win, in Nigel Pearson’s first home game as manager, was only their second success in 18 league matches this season and allowed the Hertfordshire club to close to within six points of safety. Just like Father Christmas, United dress in red and white, come to call once a year and arrive bearing gifts.

Whereas Watford’s fans will tuck into their Christmas dinners harbouring renewed optimism that their side might yet pull off the unthinkable by avoiding the drop, United’s supporters find their team occupying their lowest placing at Christmas — eighth – since 1989.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

United’s run of six games without defeat in the league is over, the momentum sparked by their back-to-back wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City has vanished and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will once again find himself confronted by questions about his suitability for the job. Of equal concern to Solskjaer and his team’s supporters will be the knowledge that opposition sides know exactly how to defeat United: you simply give them the ball.2

When United have enjoyed success this season, they have generally done so by allowing their opponents to control possession and hitting them on the counter-attack. In each of their most notable victories this season, United have had less than 50 percent of possession: 46 percent in August’s 4-0 win over Chelsea, 42 percent in September’s 1-0 defeat of Leicester City, and 47 percent and 28 percent, respectively, in those 2-1 successes against Spurs and Manchester City earlier this month.

It is when United are allowed to have the ball that they struggle. In each of the league defeats that preceded the trip to Watford — against Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Newcastle United and Bournemouth — they had over 50% of possession and it was the same story at Vicarage Road, where Solskjaer’s men slumped to a fifth reverse of the campaign despite having 64 percent possession.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

The United manager claimed that his side’s defeat was “not about the amount of possession,” arguing instead that a lack of “quality” was to blame, but the statistics are difficult to ignore. On the last 17 occasions that United have had the ball more than their opponents in a league game, they have emerged victorious only once.

The visitors’ desperate lack of a cutting edge was plainly apparent during a first half in which their failure to capitalise on possession must have made Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster remember the years he spent passively watching United play from the Old Trafford bench. Central midfielders Fred and Scott McTominay were both wasteful and it was left to Anthony Martial, United’s centre-forward, to supply the few moments of inspiration. The Frenchman dragged a shot wide after a one-two with Daniel James and it was from his through ball that Jesse Lingard squandered the best chance of the first 45 minutes, tamely chipping the ball onto the roof of Foster’s net.