United's clash with Watford is vital to win despite Europa distraction

Manchester United are back in action after the winter break and are now embarking on a frantic run of fixtures.

Club Brugge await in the Europa League last 32 tomorrow before United host Watford in the Premier League on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will likely be trying to take every game as it comes, but it could be argued that Sunday’s game is more important.

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Potentially pivotal weekend

United beat Chelsea on Monday night to reinvigorate their chase for the top four and that race is well and truly on now.

The fourth-placed Blues host fifth-placed Tottenham on Saturday, meaning that at least one of United’s rivals in that chase will drop points.

United are three points behind Chelsea in seventh and a home match against a side submerged in the relegation zone represents a great opportunity to make up some ground.

But it is those matches in which Solskjaer’s side have been struggling at times this season, owing to a lack of creativity.

That means they cannot afford to give that Watford clash anything less than full focus; it’s an opportunity which United cannot afford to miss.

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Luxury of the two-legged tie

United of course want to keep their momentum up and don’t want to suffer a loss, especially one which would knock them out of contention for the second leg.

But perhaps keeping some legs fresh against Brugge ahead of the Watford game might not be the worst idea.

United have the chance to win the tie at Old Trafford the following week, so if Solskjaer makes changes for the first leg with that game against Watford in mind, it would be understandable.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.