Stop me if you've heard this one before. Manchester United really, really really need a win in this match to have a hope of keeping pace with the top four, but are facing a tough opponent who have no real interest or reason to give them the free ride they want. So in other words, it's business as usual.
Manchester are three points back of cross-town rivals Manchester City — who also have a game in hand, so keep that in mind — and are seven back of third-place Arsenal. A loss here runs the risk of seeing them slip further behind a race that they can't afford not to be in. Watford, though, have been a tough team to beat all year long, and they won't go down easy in this match. Especially with Manchester so badly wrought by injuries, they need to play carefully and avoid making mistakes at all costs, because Watford are a team that will punish them ruthlessly.
Key player — Juan Mata (Manchester United)
With so much of Manchester's attack out injured, having Mata healthy and playing well is a blessing. His ability to pull the strings and make things happen up front is sorely underappreciated at times, and with so much media attention being put on young Marcus Rashford at striker, Mata can make the things happen to put him in position to succeed without having to feel the pressure to make them happen himself. Having that guy in the team to help the young players is immensely valuable, and Mata fills that role with aplomb.
Key matchup — Daley Blind (Manchester United) vs. Odion Ighalo (Watford)
Ighalo has been a pleasant surprise for Watford this season, taking the Premier League by storm to the tune of 15 goals in 27 matches so far. Keeping him at bay will be priorities one, two, and three for Manchester, and with how injury-battered their back line is, that mean the task falls to Blind. His skillset doesn't make him an ideal man to try to stop Igalho, but there's no one else to do it right now. On his day though, Blind can definitely get the job done — Manchester fans just need to hope he has a very good day.
Manchester United injuries and suspensions
Out: Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Wayne Rooney, Will Keane, Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw In doubt: Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian,
Watford FC injuries and suspensions
Out: Joel Ekstrand, Jose Manuel Jurado Marin
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. local
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
TV: Sportsnet One (Canada)
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.), Sportsnet World Now (Canada)