Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City "must be careful" against Watford as the Spaniard hailed the career of Hornets manager Claudio Ranieri.

City are a point behind leaders Chelsea after 14 games following the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday, while Thomas Tuchel's side edged past the champions' next opponents.

Ranieri's side crushed Manchester United 4-1 at home in late November, though, and Guardiola insisted his side must be cautious against the strugglers despite winning their last six games across all competitions.

"I know what [Watford] want to do, and what they do, they do really well," Guardiola told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"Against United they played well, against Chelsea they did a really good game. They are close results. 

"Against Leicester they lost but had more chances. Every game is there. We have to be careful tomorrow and do another good performance."

Guardiola, who has won all nine meetings with Watford across all competitions by an aggregate score of 39-3, also hailed his opposite number Ranieri for his work in football.

"Football has to be grateful to still live with important people like Claudio Ranieri," he added. "What he has done in his career is amazing, Leicester is the benchmark. 

"[He's worked] in Spain, Italy, France – I admire this type of person. What they have done, have the passion, energy to go there. 

"When they lost against Liverpool, the press conference after…the confidence he showed, I would be depressed. The first game to lose the way I lose and go there [to say], 'Follow me, we are going to win'. 

"I admire a lot still they have this passion, this energy. It will be a pleasure to see him again, I know the results against him always aren't good."

Rodri, along with Bernardo Silva – who has four goals in his last seven league games, as many as his previous 55 in the competition – has been a standout performer for City.

The former Barcelona head coach, whose side have won more Premier League away games (72) than any other side since his first season in charge, noted the Spain international's performances as he again credited Silva.

Asked about Silva's recent showings after he claimed the Portugal international was a class above, Guardiola said: "Take a video in Anfield, in Stamford Bridge, in the last game. You will know it.

"It's no secret. We have no top scorer upfront who creates something out of nothing. We have to do it as a team, it's good everyone is involved and has the permission to score goals. I never said in my career, 'Don't score a goal.' They have the feeling to go and try.

"Rodri is 23, 24. Everything is a process. Last season he played good, maybe the last part of the season drop a little bit but we gave him more minutes last season. You have to be careful this season. 

"The fact we are out of the EFL Cup is good for that. He is playing at an extraordinary level, the consistency. 

"He has to be [number] seven or an eight [in terms of position] all the time, he cannot be three or four because it destroys the team, he cannot be 10 because 10 is for the strikers. He is playing consistently, defensively, offensively."

Thomas Tuchel felt that Chelsea "stole three points" with their 2-1 victory at Watford on Wednesday. 

The Blues were far from their best from the off at Vicarage Road. They completed just 71 per cent of their passes for their lowest passing accuracy in all competitions under Tuchel and their worst since facing Liverpool in the Premier League in May 2018.

Mason Mount put them in front after a 30-minute break in play while a fan received medical attention after suffering from a cardiac arrest - Watford later confirmed the supporter had been stabilised. However, Emmanuel Dennis became the first Watford player to score in three consecutive top-plight games since Troy Deeney in 2017 when he equalised before half-time.

Tuchel's men looked destined to drop points for the third time in four Premier League games but substitute Hakim Ziyech steered home his first top-flight goal of the season to seal a third straight league win at Vicarage Road for the first time in Chelsea's history.

"We stole three points. We don’t have to talk around it. It feels very, very good, it's an important three points of course. For the first time it feels like a lucky win," Tuchel, who made six changes to his line-up, told Amazon Prime. 

"That's not us. We were absolutely not ready today for this match. I missed maybe to find the right approach to make my team ready. 

"We had the break due to very sad circumstances – hopefully the person is better and hopefully it was enough time to keep them safe. Even this break after the first 11 minutes did not change our approach. We did not cope with the pressure, with the first ball, second ball. 

“We had a lot of changes, I admit that, but too many faults. It did not get better. The only thing we could do was hang in there and focus on the easy things. It was a lucky win. 

"I see this totally as an exception from the rule. I will not insist too long on this match because it’s so unusual for us to play like this." 

Ziyech was sent on in the 60th minute as a replacement for Trevoh Chalobah, who hobbled off with an apparent hamstring injury that gave Tuchel cause for concern ahead of Saturday's meeting with West Ham. 

The Blues were without Ben Chilwell, Reece James, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic on Wednesday, while Jorginho and Timo Werner were still injury concerns despite being on the bench. Romelu Lukaku played 20 minutes off the bench as he continued his recovery from an ankle problem. 

"The next game on Saturday, I am most worried about the injury for Trevoh Chalobah and we got a lot of hits today. The doctor was on the pitch like 20 times to treat players," said Tuchel. 

"It's a big loss from Trevoh and we already have some injured key players. I'm a bit worried about that because the next game is on Saturday at 12:30." 

Hakim Ziyech ensured Chelsea remained at the Premier League summit with a 2-1 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road on Wednesday. 

The Blues looked set to hand their title rivals a boost by dropping points for the third time in four games, but substitute Ziyech made a decisive impact in the 72nd minute.

Mason Mount gave Chelsea the lead after play was suspended for around half and hour when a fan suffered a cardiac arrest in the stands. Watford later confirmed the individual had been stabilised. 

Emmanuel Dennis equalised before half-time but Mount teed up Ziyech for his first Premier League goal of the season to remove the threat of Thomas Tuchel's men being overtaken by Manchester City or Liverpool.

Watford started brightly and Edouard Mendy had to react quickly to stop Cesar Azpilicueta scoring an own goal in the fifth minute, but there was a significant break in play when a spectator fell ill. 

Chelsea's first effort was cracked against the post by Mount shortly after play resumed but he did not fail at the second attempt, guiding home Kai Havertz's pass in the 30th minute after an exquisite touch from Marcos Alonso.  

Watford drew level on the stroke of half-time, with Moussa Sissoko dispossessing Ruben Loftus-Cheek and launching a break that ended with Dennis finding the bottom-left corner with the help of a deflection off Antonio Rudiger.  

Tuchel hooked Saul Niguez and moved Trevoh Chalobah into midfield for the second half but a hamstring injury meant he had to be replaced by Ziyech in the 60th minute. 

The game appeared to be heading for a draw until Mount picked out Ziyech in the centre of the box and the Morocco international's first-time effort had too much power for Daniel Bachmann to keep out. 

Bachmann did well to stop Ziyech doubling his tally in the closing stages but Watford were unable to come back a second time and salvage a result. 

What does it mean? A first for Chelsea 

Thanks to Ziyech's winner, Chelsea have been victorious in three successive league matches at Vicarage Road for the first time. 

It was the Blues' eighth win in nine Premier League meetings with Watford, with Claudio Ranieri unable to become the first former Chelsea boss to beat them in the competition with two different clubs. 

Mount in peak form 

Having been a substitute in Chelsea's previous two games, Mount excelled on his return to the starting line-up. His goal made him the first player to reach double figures in all competitions for the Blues under Tuchel. 

So long, Saul? 

In his first Premier League start since his debut back in December, Saul failed to impress. He had just 18 touches and made only nine passes – seven of which were completed. His loan from Atletico Madrid could well be cut short in January given his struggles at Stamford Bridge. 

What's next?  

Chelsea head to rivals West Ham for a derby at London Stadium, while Watford face another tough test with Manchester City visiting Vicarage Road. 

The Premier League meeting between Watford and Chelsea was paused in the first half after a fan suffered a cardiac arrest. 

Both sets of players left the pitch when the supporter fell ill in the stands in the 13th minute, with the teams reportedly refusing to return until they received information on the individual's condition. 

The teams emerged from the tunnel to resume play roughly 30 minutes later and Watford confirmed the supporter had been stabilised after suffering a heart attack. 

Watford tweeted: "The players have returned to the field in preparation of play resuming. Our thoughts are with the fan – who had a cardiac arrest but has now been stabilised – and all those affected. Thank you to the medical staff, players and fans for their quick response." 

Members of Chelsea's medical staff also went to give assistance after seemingly becoming aware of the incident while Adam Masina was receiving treatment.  

Chelsea posted on Twitter: "The thoughts of everyone at Chelsea Football Club are with the fan and all those affected. Our thanks to the medical staff here at Vicarage Road for their quick response." 

The Premier League meeting between Watford and Chelsea was paused in the first half after a medical emergency in the crowd. 

Both sets of players left the pitch after 13 minutes when a fan fell ill, with Amazon Prime reporting an individual had suffered a heart attack. 

Members of Chelsea's medical staff went to give assistance after seemingly becoming aware of the incident while Adam Masina was receiving treatment. 

Watford and Chelsea tweeted to confirm the break in play was "due to a medical emergency in the crowd". 

Chelsea host Manchester United in the headline game of the weekend in the Premier League, with Sunday's showdown at Stamford Bridge a lip-smacking occasion.

Will United put the misery of their five defeats in seven domestic league games behind them and start afresh after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking, or will it be the same old story for the Red Devils?

The threat comes from all quarters with Chelsea: Reece James and Antonio Rudiger may be as likely, if not more so, to score than Timo Werner, for example.

Leeds are boosted by the return from injury of Raphinha as they head to Brighton, while Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang face opponents against whom they have outstanding past records.

The pursuit of fantasy points is on, and here are suggestions for possible picks ahead of the weekend, powered by Opta data.

REECE JAMES (Chelsea v Manchester United)

Will Manchester United's Champions League victory at Villarreal be a spur for them to find a way back to winning ways in the Premier League? Not if Reece James can help it.

Chelsea's exciting right wing-back was sufficiently impressive last term to make England's Euro 2020 squad, but he has gone to another level this time around, and a midweek goal against Juventus just confirmed his progression.

In the Premier League, James has been directly involved in eight goals this season, three more than in his previous 56 appearances in the competition across the last two seasons (5 - one goal, four assists). His total of involvements is higher than any other defender in the league in 2021-22, and United will be wary of that danger. Whether they can stop it remains to be seen.

ANTONIO RUDIGER (Chelsea v Manchester United)

Another Chelsea defender who provides value as an all-rounder, Rudiger provides Premier League fantasy points possibilities at both ends of the pitch.

Among Premier League defenders, only his Blues club-mates James (4) and Ben Chilwell (3) have scored more goals in the competition this season, while only Manchester City's Joao Cancelo (8) has registered more clean sheets than the German (7).

With Harry Maguire suspended and Raphael Varane injured, United seem likely to be susceptible to crosses from set-pieces, which is where Rudiger could come into his own.

RAPHINHA (Brighton and Hove Albion v Leeds United)

Leeds are hovering just above the bottom three, heading into the weekend, so to have Raphinha available will be a major boost to Marcelo Bielsa.

After missing the defeat at Tottenham last time out, the Brazil international is expected to be involved at Brighton this weekend as Leeds target a third win of the campaign.

They missed his creative influence in north London, with Leeds having won 45 per cent of their Premier League games in which Raphinha has featured (18/40) since his debut for the club in October 2020, They have won none of their six matches when he has been absent (D2 L4) and have averaged a measly 0.5 goals per game.

His 20 goal involvements in the league over the same period (11 goals, 9 assists) is second only at Leeds to Patrick Bamford (23 - 15 goals, 8 assists).

RAHEEM STERLING (Manchester City v West Ham)

Has Raheem Sterling played himself into form for City? Three goals in his last three appearances across all competitions suggests that is the case for a player who struggled in the early weeks of the season, in the wake of his exploits at Euro 2020 with England.

Now, assuming he keeps his place in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up, Sterling gets to face one of his very favourite opponents when West Ham visit the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling has been involved in 11 goals in his last eight Premier League games against the Hammers (6 goals, 5 assists), hitting a hat-trick when the teams met in London on the opening day of the 2019-20 season.

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Leicester City v Watford)

It was Emmanuel Dennis who inflicted the final blow to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, completing the rout as Watford whipped Manchester United 4-1 last Saturday.

The Nigerian appears to have been an outstanding acquisition from Club Brugge and Leicester will be wary of his menacing form ahead of a King Power Stadium tussle.

Dennis has scored four goals and assisted five more in just 11 Premier League appearances for Watford. Should he score in Sunday's game, he would become only the sixth player in Premier League history to reach both five goals and assists in 12 or fewer games, after Eric Cantona (11 games), Jurgen Klinsmann (12), Arjen Robben (11), Andrey Arshavin (10) and Bruno Fernandes (9).

JOSE SA (Norwich City v Wolves)

The handover of the Wolves goalkeeper job from Rui Patricio to fellow Portuguese Jose Sa has been seamless, and the new man between the sticks has been highly effective already in the Premier League.

Only Chelsea's Edouard Mendy (3.71) has prevented more goals in the PL this season than Sa (2.18). That is based on Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) metric, which assesses the quality of shots. On that basis, Sa would have been expected to concede 14.18 goals, but he has picked the ball out of the net just 12 times.

His 38 saves from 50 shots faced gives him a healthy 76 per cent success rate, beaten only by Mendy (88.57 per cent) and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsdale (78.95) so far this season. Norwich will do well to find a way past one of the most in-form glovesmen in the top flight.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal v Newcastle United)

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not scored or had an assist in his last three Premier League games, creating just one chance in 270 minutes.

But if there is any team he is going to score against, Newcastle would be close to the top of the list, and not merely because Eddie Howe's team are bottom of the table.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker has been involved in nine goals in his eight appearances for Arsenal against Newcastle in all competitions (6 goals, 3 assists), scoring in each of his last five games against the Magpies.

Manchester United should move to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager immediately rather than wait until the end of the season if he is their first choice, according to former Old Trafford hero Mark Hughes.

United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday in the wake of a humiliating 4-1 defeat to promoted Watford a day earlier, but the writing was already on the wall.

After an inconsistent start to the 2021-22 campaign, the beginning of the end for Solskjaer was arguably the 5-0 home loss to Liverpool on October 24.

That thrashing by Jurgen Klopp's side set several unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against their fierce rivals at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Michael Carrick has been installed in temporary charge until United can hire an interim manager to guide them through to the end of the season, a somewhat peculiar and convoluted process that in itself has attracted criticism.

Numerous coaches have been credited with interest in the role, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino – strongly linked to United in the past – seemingly chief among them, and Hughes thinks the club need to have the courage of their convictions if the Argentinian is the man they want.

"In terms of resources, to be able to get a top manager out of a top club, clearly United are one of the few clubs that are able to do that," Hughes told talkSPORT. "I think for a long time United have coveted Pochettino.

"I think they've wined and dined him [in the past], I think he's been out with Sir Alex [Ferguson]. I think that was well documented a few years ago.

"I think he's well thought of within the corridors of United, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's the one they really want. Whether or not he's able to come to the club quickly, that's an issue for them.

"I think if he's the man, they should just go out and go get him. This interim-to-interim position doesn't seem to be the right way to go about it.

"But clearly, if they have to wait, they seem prepared to do that. I just feel it's Pochettino that they really, really want."

Former Tottenham head coach Pochettino has only been in charge at PSG since January, though there have been rumours of friction between him and sporting director Leonardo.

Speculation has suggested that PSG would be willing for Pochettino to leave, assuming a compensation package can be agreed and they have a replacement lined up.

Zinedine Zidane, also linked to United but said to have little interest in moving to England, has been mentioned as a likely candidate to replace Pochettino at PSG.

Pochettino is in Manchester this week as PSG face Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League – United begin the post-Solskjaer era away to Villarreal on Tuesday.

Manchester United have confirmed the departure of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Saturday's Premier League defeat to Watford.

The pressure has been building on Solskjaer throughout the season, but the 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road – their fifth defeat in seven league matches – proved the final straw.

The former striker's future was reportedly decided during a long board meeting after the match before a mutual agreement over his exit was reached, with Michael Carrick placed in temporary charge.

A club statement released on Sunday read: "Manchester United announces that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his role as manager.

"Ole will always be a legend at Manchester United and it is with regret that we have reached this difficult decision. While the past few weeks have been disappointing, they should not obscure all the work he has done over the past three years to rebuild the foundations for long-term success.

"Ole leaves with our sincerest thanks for his tireless efforts as Manager and our very best wishes for the future. His place in the club’s history will always be secure, not just for his story as a player, but as a great man and a Manager who gave us many great moments. He will forever be welcome back at Old Trafford as part of the Manchester United family.

"Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team for forthcoming games, while the club looks to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season."

Solskjaer survived the 5-0 hammering by Liverpool at Old Trafford last month and the 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester City, with a 3-0 win at an out-of-sorts Tottenham and a Champions League draw with Atalanta helping to placate the club's hierarchy.

However, the apathetic nature of the performance against Watford, who started the match just three points outside the relegation zone, was too much to overlook for United co-chairman Joel Glazer, the man who holds final say over the hiring and firing of managers.

The result left the Red Devils eighth in the table with just 17 points from 12 matches, as they failed to beat a promoted side for the fourth game in a row, something that last happened when Solskjaer was a United player back in September 1997. This was also the first time they had taken as few as four points from seven consecutive league matches since December 2001.

United have now lost as many league matches this season as they did in their previous 43 games in the competition. Their two goals conceded in the first half against Watford took their tally this season to 11, the worst such record in the division.

Solskjaer took charge from Jose Mourinho initially on an interim basis and oversaw a marked improvement in performance while dispelling the toxic atmosphere that developed during the Portuguese's final weeks at the club.

He led United to sixth in his first half-season at the helm, before finishing third in 2019-20 and second in 2020-21, while his team enjoyed an English league record run of 29 away games without defeat.

However, he failed to win a trophy, reaching just one final, going down on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League last term.

Manchester United have confirmed the departure of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Saturday's Premier League defeat to Watford.

The pressure has been building on Solskjaer throughout the season, but the 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road – their fifth defeat in seven league matches – proved the final straw.

The former striker's future was reportedly decided during a long board meeting after the match before a mutual agreement over his exit was reached.

Saturday provided no shortage of talking points as the Premier League returned after the international break.

Manchester United suffered another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of Watford, and it will likely be one too humiliation too many for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

There was also a harsh dose of reality fed to Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, as they were given a bruising by Liverpool at Anfield.

But two new managers began their respective tenures with victories, as Aston Villa and Norwich City each hope to enjoy a prolonged 'new manager bounce'.

Below, Stats Perform looks through the pick of Saturday's Opta facts…

Watford 4-1 Manchester United: Writing's on the wall for Solskjaer

Another week, another humiliating defeat for United and Solskjaer – Watford were the latest side to toy with the Red Devils.

United's loss was their biggest league defeat to a promoted side since a 5-1 reverse to Manchester City in September 1989, and it took them to 20 goals conceded this season already.

Only in 2001-02 (11 games) have United conceded 20 or more after fewer than in 2021-22 (13 games), while this is the first time Watford have ever beaten them in successive home league games.

United were still in with a shout at 2-1 until Harry Maguire's first red card in 121 appearances for the club, but it all fell apart thereafter.

It looks set to be the result that costs Solskjaer his job.



Leicester City 0-3 Chelsea: Foxes intimidated by pacesetters again

Most would have expected Chelsea to get a proper examination of their title credentials here – who knows, maybe this was a real statement.

Either way, Thomas Tuchel's men saw off Leicester City with great authority, or so it seemed.

In reality, Leicester actually have a dreadful record against teams starting the day top of the table. Granted, the side at the summit is usually fairly handy, otherwise they wouldn't be setting the pace, but Leicester's run is particularly poor.

They are now winless in 17 league games against the team that started the day top of the table, conceding 40 goals at a rate of 2.35 per game.

In the process of winning here, Chelsea moved level with Tottenham and Manchester City with the most away wins (five) at the King Power Stadium in the top tier.

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: Gunners come crashing back to reality as Reds continue domination

Although Arsenal came into the weekend in good form, having not lost any of their previous 10 matches in all competitions, there was more than a hint of predictability about their Anfield defeat and the manner of it.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal (37) than any top-flight side has against another opponent since October 2015, which in itself is a fairly damning indictment of the Gunners' fall from grace.

Mohamed Salah got Liverpool's third goal of the game, which was also their 100th against Arsenal in the Premier League, a haul they can only better in meetings with Newcastle United (105).

It was the fifth time this season Arsenal have failed to score in a league game, with only Norwich and Watford (both seven) having a worse record.

The Gunners aren't "back" yet.

Aston Villa 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Gerrard off to winning start

Steven Gerrard began his tenure as Villa boss in positive fashion, seeing off Graham Potter's Brighton.

It was a largely unspectacular bow for Gerrard but Villa eventually got the job done with two goals late on, making the Liverpool legend only the club's third permanent manager to begin with a win in the Premier League.

Ollie Watkins was the man to get the first goal of the Gerrard era, taking his tally to a club-high 17 strikes since the start of last season in the top flight.

There was also a first assist of the season for Ashley Young, who set up a Villa goal for the first time in 10 years and 189 days.

Norwich City 2-1 Southampton: Smith lifts Canaries off the foot the table

The man who made room for Gerrard at Villa, Dean Smith, also began the latest chapter of his career with a victory.

Norwich initially trailed to Che Adams' goal, but they turned things around as the Canaries came from behind to win a Premier League game for the first time in five-and-a-half years, or 36 matches.

But if they were going to end that run against anyone, the Saints would have been a good bet – since Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge in December 2018, they have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League (67).

Grant Hanley got Norwich's winner, his first Premier League goal in nine years and 324 days since netting for Blackburn Rovers against Manchester United in December 2011.

Bruno Fernandes has refused to single Ole Gunnar Solskjaer out for blame following Manchester United's humiliating 4-1 defeat against Watford on Saturday, insisting it is a collective failure.

Josh King, Ismaila Sarr, Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Bonaventure helped themselves to goals against the Red Devils who had Harry Maguire sent off after receiving a second yellow card.

The result means United have won just once in their last six Premier League games, losing four and conceding 12 goals in that run, with pressure intensifying on Solskjaer's position as manager. Indeed, a board meeting is rumoured to have taken place in the wake of the loss.

Fernandes however, instead directed the blame for the side's poor form at the team as a collective unit.

"It's everyone's fault," Fernandes said to beIN Sports after the game. "It's not the coach, it's not one player or two, it's everyone. Everyone has to take responsibility because everyone has to do better, everyone. Not one of us can say 'I'm doing well'."

Fernandes feels United only turned up for one half of the game and described the first half as "sloppy", while also highlighting the Red Devils' defensive issues.

"We [played like a wounded animal] but just for one half and that is not enough in these kinds of games in the Premier League," Fernandes continued. "It's not enough playing just for one half.

"Watford are a good team, they are aggressive, they have quality up front, and if you give them chances, you will concede goals. That has been a problem for us for many games and I think the attitude in the second half was there but in the first half, it was too sloppy from everyone.

"We didn't go on the front foot, we didn't tackle, we didn't win our duels and against these teams, you have to do that. You have to try to keep the same intensity as them and after that, show your quality, show why you play for Manchester United."

David de Gea once again apologised to supporters following Manchester United's "nightmare" display against Watford and accepts his side's current form is not acceptable.

United fell to a fifth defeat in seven Premier League matches with a 4-1 reverse at the hands of lowly Watford on Saturday, piling further pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The defeat at Vicarage Road was United's heaviest against a newly-promoted side since a 5-1 loss to Manchester City in September 1989.

Solskjaer's side have now conceded 29 goals in all competitions this season – only Norwich City and Leicester City (both 30) have shipped more among Premier League clubs.

De Gea, who saved two penalties and was United's best player on the day despite conceding four goals, admits after the latest defeat that a big turnaround is needed.

"There's not much to say – it was embarrassing to see Man United play like we did today," he told Sky Sports. "It's not acceptable – the way we were playing and doing things. 

"The first half was embarrassing – we could've conceded four goals in 45 minutes. It was hard to watch the team playing today – it was nightmare after nightmare. 

"It's not acceptable. We are trying to give our best and fight for the team but for sure something is very wrong. 

"You can see in the games – it's very low level, very poor. Sorry to the fans, once again."

United struggled to cope with high-pressing Watford and were two goals down at half-time through strikes from Joshua King and Ismaila Sarr, who earlier had two penalties saved by De Gea.

Kiko Femenia converted the rebound from the first of those but the spot-kick had to be retaken due to encroachment, with De Gea again equal to the second attempt.

Substitute Donny van de Beek pulled one back five minutes after being brought on, but United then lost Harry Maguire to a second bookable offence with 69 minutes played.

That was Maguire's first sending-off for United on what was his 121st appearance for the club in all competitions, capping what has been a tough month for the centre-back at club level.

The Red Devils enjoyed a spell on top without making it count, before Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis sealed an emphatic win for Watford, who started the day in 17th place.

Solskjaer held his hands up towards United's travelling supporters at full-time and appeared to wave, but De Gea insists the players should take the blame.

"It's easy to blame the manager or the staff but sometimes it's the players. We need to show much more than we are doing," he said.

"I've been in difficult moments and always believe in myself but there are difficult moments we have to be strong in mind and body. 

"We are paid to play for United and to do better than that. This is not Manchester United or the way we ought to play – it's difficult to say more than that.

"It's been very bad for a long time – a club like Man United we have to be fighting for trophies and fighting for big things and to be honest we are far from that. 

"Let's see – we have to keep working hard and stick together. We always say the same things but it's the truth – we have to look at ourselves and see where we can improve."

Harry Maguire was sent off as Manchester United suffered their fifth defeat in seven Premier League games, a humbling 4-1 setback at Watford.

First-half goals from Joshua King and Ismaila Sarr, who had an earlier penalty saved, piled pressure on struggling United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Vicarage Road.

Substitute Donny van de Beek pulled one back for United, who had captain Maguire dismissed for two bookable offences.

But Claudio Ranieri's home team made sure with stoppage-time strikes from Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis, earning a second win in seven matches to move four points clear of the relegation zone.

Watford were handed a great opportunity to take the lead in the sixth minute; Jon Moss pointing to the spot after Nemanja Matic's reckless slice at the ball culminated in Scott McTominay bundling over King.

Kiko Femenia slammed home the rebound after Sarr's penalty was saved, but the goal was disallowed for encroachment in the box and the spot-kick ordered to be retaken, with David de Gea coming to the rescue once again.

But the United goalkeeper was helpless as the hosts took the lead in the 28th minute; King slotting home against his former club from Dennis' cutback.

Watford doubled their advantage just before the break; an unmarked Sarr taking a touch before drilling past De Gea from a tight angle.

Solskjaer introduced Van de Beek at the break, and the former Ajax midfielder immediately responded by heading home within five minutes of his introduction.

Foster then did brilliantly to deny Cristiano Ronaldo as the visitors turned up the pressure.

They continued to threaten after Maguire received a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Tom Cleverley in the 70th minute.

But their hopes were dashed as Watford struck twice in stoppage time; Pedro and Dennis drilling low shots past De Gea from a tight angle.

Mason Greenwood has been left out of Manchester United's matchday squad to face Watford and is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

Greenwood has played 799 minutes across 10 Premier League appearances for United so far this season, scoring four goals - level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes as the club's top scorers in the competition.

The youngster also leads his club in the league for shots taken (31) and has scored his four goals despite recording an expected goals value of 2.06, with only Ronaldo (4.32) and Fernandes (2.36) managing higher figures.

United's head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed the reason for the youngster's absence before his side's clash with 17th-placed Watford.

"Mason has got COVID, unfortunately," Solskjaer told the club's official website ahead of the game. "He's tested positive, so we'll wait for him to get back."

In Greenwood's absence, fellow Englishmen Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have been handed starts as Solskjaer returns to a back four after losing 2-0 to rivals Manchester City in their last league outing.

Eric Bailly and Fred have also been dropped to the bench from that game, with Nemanja Matic taking the latter's place alongside Scott McTominay in midfield.

United have lost four of their last six leagues games, as many as they had in their last 40 matches in the competition, to leave them in sixth - 11 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims Donny van de Beek will soon "reap his rewards" at Manchester United.

Van de Beek joined from Ajax for a reported £40million last season, but chances have been sparse for the 24-year-old at Old Trafford.

The midfielder has started just four games for United in the Premier League, his last coming against Wolves in May, while appearing just 21 times in the top-flight for his 528 minutes.

United supporters greeted Van de Beek's introduction off the bench against Manchester City two weeks ago with rapturous applause, highlighting the faith they have in the Netherlands international.

Solskjaer joined in with the praise for Van de Beek as the Norwegian pinpointed his work ethic ahead of Saturday's clash with Watford.

"I think our fans can see a top professional and a very good player," Solskjaer said. "And Donny is one that has never ever let himself or his team or his family down by his attitude.

"His approach to the game and training is spot on. I can't fault him, and he knows that.

"I keep in contact and I speak to him and communicate with him because it's not easy when players are not playing as much as they think they should do, and Donny thinks he should be playing more and he will be involved.

"I can't say anything other than he's another example of what to do when you're not in the team and he'll reap his rewards."

Van de Beek was looking to feature at Vicarage Road as United attempted to bounce back from four losses in six league games, as many as they had in their previous 40 matches in the Premier League.

But the Red Devils were expected to be without Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, who has a tendon injury.

"Unfortunately he felt something in one of the last sessions before City and he had to pull out of the game because he didn't feel right. We've got to give him time to feel right," Solskjaer added.

"I can't give you a timescale if it's tomorrow or Tuesday or Chelsea. We'll see how he is, that's important."

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