The wide man fired home two wonderful first-half strikes as Manchester United eventually saw off Watford to reduce the gap at the top to five points

Manchester United didn’t just need to keep up the pace at Watford on Tuesday, they needed to make a statement. And, thanks in large part to Ashley Young, they did exactly that in storming to a 4-2 win in the first of two huge tests on the road in the space of four days.

With Arsenal to come at the Emirates on Saturday, Jose Mourinho will have been looking for three points however they came at Vicarage Road, but a more convincing performance than the one which saw United edge past Brighton at the weekend was in order to persuade the wider world that they have what it takes to deal with a title race right through to May.

Manchester City’s huge lead has so far been built with something of a swagger, and a string of stumbling displays by their neighbours had only helped to accentuate the gap in quality.

For 70 minutes or more in Hertfordshire on Tuesday, United delivered their best football of the season, and when Watford came storming back late on, the Reds still had enough to put the game to bed with a Jesse Lingard wonder-goal.

It was Young who did much of the damage against the club with which he spent his formative footballing years. First, he rifled home superbly in minimal space after Lingard had squared from the centre, finding the slightest of gaps at Heurelho Gomes’ near post to put United ahead.

…rest of the post