Manchester United sit in fourth place, but can end the weekend at the top of the table with a win and some help. United will play Watford who currently sit in 11th place after winning two of their last three matches. United have not conceded a goal in their previous 5 matches.
With four straight clean sheets for De Gea, he will be between the pipes upon his return from international duty.
Under Chris Smalling’s leadership, the United defense has conceded fewer goals than any other Premier League squad (8). While this defensive unit is not the long-term plan for Van Gaal, expect Smalling and Daley Blind to man the center of the back-4. Their duty will be to shut down the second leading scorer in the EPL, Odion Ighalo.
Smalling did pick up a knock this week, so it is possible that Phil Jones plays in his spot.
Ashley Young will likely return to the right wing-back position and Marcos Rojo will man the left side. Both will hope to improve their offensive contributions against Watford.
In United’s last two matches, Michael Carrick has been Manchester’s top midfielder; however, the 34 year-old Englishman picked up an ankle injury in England’s friendly versus Spain. In his place, Morgan Schneiderlin will return to the center of the pitch just ahead of the back-4.
Bastian Schweinsteiger needed some rest as he has looked a bit sluggish is his latest United appearances. The midfield general will be starting this Saturday alongside Schneiderlin.
In the number 10 role, Ander Herrera will likely return to the starting XI in replacement of Anthony Martial. While not ruled out, Martial left Wembley on crutches after supposedly taking on knock on the top of his foot.
If Herrera wants to receive more playing time, he will have constantly move off the ball and not get lulled into a passive mentality.
Jesse Lingard is forcing the hand of Van Gaal on the left-wing after scoring a beauty against West Brom two weeks ago. Lingard even got the opportunity to dress up for his country during the international break. The 22 year-old academy product has been effective and hopefully his growing confidence will help the young lad improve his shaky first touches.
As always, Juan mata will be playing on the left side. However, if he fails to bring himself into the game, an early substitution for Memphis may be in order.
In Martial’s brief absence, Rooney is the only other option at striker despite the 10 role probably suiting him best. Rooney scored against France in their friendly and will look to continue this trend.