The race for the Champions League looked over a matter of weeks ago. But Manchester United’s sudden decline in form has put bitter rivals Liverpool just four points away with three games still left to play.
United have lost three Premier League games in a row for the first time since December 2001, and haven’t even managed to score a goal in those three fixtures.
The Red Devils are still in pole position to finish fourth and grab Champions League footy, but don’t rule out Liverpool yet.
1. United have tougher fixtures
United face Crystal Palace (a), Arsenal (h) and Hull (a) while Liverpool face Chelsea (a), Crystal Palace (h) and Stoke (a).
Had Chelsea not wrapped up the title, Liverpool’s trip to Stamford Bridge would look perilous but there is every chance of getting a point there and the Reds should have no problems beating two sides who have nothing to play for and they will hope for seven points.
Palace away under Handsome Pards is an uninviting prospect, especially when you’ve lost your last three games like United have. Arsenal have hit top gear at the right part of the season, albeit too late to challenge Chelsea but they do have their sight firmly set on second place and will fight hard for all three points.
Hull City could well need a win to stay in the Premier League on the final day of the season, you saw what they did to Liverpool a few games ago.
2. The Sunday hoodoo
Realistically for Liverpool to pinch the fourth placed position they will need to win all their remaining three games and, considering United’s superior goal difference, hope United lose two of their three.
What might initially seem like a hopeless dream for the Anfield faithful may not be as perilous as first thought.
Louis van Gaal’s side have two away fixtures to negotiate having lost as many as they won on the road this campaign (5) drawing 7.
More poignantly though, Manchester United have only won TWO of their last 17 games that have been played on a Sunday:
(Above stat published before Manchester United’s 3-0 defeat at Everton)
3. There’s just no defending that
While Liverpool welcome back Mamadou Sakho from injury this weekend, the same can not be said about the state of Manchester United’s back line.
With Johnny Evans, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Rafael all sidelined without a return date United fans will be forced to rely on Chris Smalling to keep out the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Eeeek!
4. Lacking Carrick-ter
It’s been no secret that without Michael Carrick; United have struggled.
Building on from the last point, with no immediate return in sight for Carrick the effects could be considerably more damaging than relying on Chris Smalling… and that’s *really* saying something.
Manchester United win per cent with Carrick: 72%
Manchester United win per cent without Carrick: 37%
Not bad Michael, not bad at all:
5. Wazza all that about?
After United’s sobering 3-0 defeat at the hands of Everton, Van Gaal feared that Wayne Rooney’s season may be cut short due to injury.
Against the odds Rooney started against West Brom but didn’t seem at the races as the Baggies scraped an unlikely 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
That result left United without a goal in their last three league games. If Rooney doesn’t find the net for Manchester United who will, this fella?