5 talking points as Man Utd progress with 1-0 win over Watford

Manchester United progressed into the fourth round of the FA Cup, but were less than impressive in beating Watford 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shuffled his deck for the visit of the Championship side, with two Premier League games in the next eight days.

And it looked like it would be plain sailing against the Hornets, when captain for the night Scott McTominay headed United into the lead after just five minutes.

But despite that early goal, United failed to capitalise on their dominance of possession, struggling to create clear-cut chances against the promotion chasers.

Watford had a couple of pot shots of their own, but in truth, rarely troubled Dean Henderson in the hosts' goal.

It may have been a wholly uninspiring performance by the Red Devils, but it's another win as they continue their fine run of form.

Here are our findings from the cup clash at Old Trafford.

Telles’ telling contribution

Sir Alex Ferguson once claimed Charlie Adam’s corner kicks “are worth £10m”, such was the advantage it gave his teams.

Well if the legendary United boss was watching, he would have struggled to not be be impressed with Alex Telles’ set piece ability.

The Brazilian kissed the ball before whipping in a devilish cross for McTominay’s opener and almost repeated the trick for Eric Bailly.

Solskjaer may still be biding his time before committing to Telles as the undoubted, first-choice on the left side, but there is no doubt, his ability from dead balls is a major advantage.

Get well soon, Bailly

Just when Eric Bailly looked to be making the second centre-back position his own, he suffered what looked to be a concussion in the closing stages of the first-half.

Bailly was halfway through another impressive performance, forming an effective partnership with Axel Tuanzebe.

But after a collision with United keeper Dean Henderson, the central defender was forced out of the game.

With a quick turnaround before Burnley, his involvement at Turf Moor appears in the balance.

All eyes are on that trip to Anfield a week on Sunday, where the will look to usurp Liverpool at the top of the table.

Fingers crossed it’s not too bad, he deserves a break.

Forgotten men fail to take their chances

For the first time since September 30, Solskjaer named a United starting line-up including Jesse Lingard and Brandon Williams.

The pair have almost become afterthoughts this season, with both widely expected to complete moves away in the January window.

The United boss has always backed both players, but it didn’t feel like they did enough to send a real message to Solskjaer.

Williams was used a right-back, but failed to show the kind of attacking intensity that could have shown him to be an able deputy to Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Lingard meanwhile failed to have any great influence from midfield and it seems best for all parties if he gets a switch this month.

A peek at van de Beek

"Sometimes it takes time. You don’t expect people who care for him to be quiet at times, especially when they want the best for them," Solskjaer said on Donny van de Beek in the build-up.

Reports from the Netherlands have been highly critical of the former Ajax midfielder's treatment since his summer switch.

Previously he was told to "pack his bags" if he wasn't handed more chances. Against the Hornets he was handed a rare start, but it was another very mixed night for the £35million signing.

Van de Beek showed the kind of quality that everyone knows he have, with several clever touches and probing passes.

But it still feels Solskjaer doesn't know his summer signing's best position. Asked to play as one two holding midfielders, the Dutchman looked desperate to move forward, but was restricted by his role.

Every time he did opt to move forward, he left Scott McTominay exposed and was rarely spotted when he tried to make ventures forward.

The harsh reality is at present, when using him in that position, United's best midfield simply doesn't include him.

Ole's annoyance

After a hectic festive fixture schedule, Solskjaer will have been desperate to rest some of his key players ahead of another pivotal run of games in the Premier League.

The likes of Maguire, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes were all named as substitutes, with the expectation that most wouldn't be required to come on at all.

However, injury to Bailly changed plans for Maguire, while it was below-par performances for some of United's squad players that forced Rashford and Martial on.

Daniel James and Lingard both failed to take their chances and Solskjaer was forced to bring the big guns on to see the tie out.

United appear to have a core of 11 to 15 players that look capable of driving them forward, but strength in depth is a real issue and could be one that causes problems as the fixtures continue to mount.

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.

Source: Read Full Article