Manchester United has enjoyed the best part of the last month at the summit of the Barclays Premier League standings, but that could all change in a blink of an eye.
With no real surprise, a lot of the United supporters were left beaming after how the results have unfolded after the turn of the New Year, but, like the players, we must remain level headed until the Reds has maneuvered through their tough schedule and secured that elusive 19th English top flight title.
Everyone knows from past experience that United is a better team in the second half of the season, but the Reds will need to use that familiarity and confidence to get through the quite exasperating 18 games they have left in the Premier League.
Due to the unforeseen weather conditions, United now has an overloaded schedule to finish out the second part of the Premier League season, which will hopefully be compounded with some extra ties in both the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League as well.
Let’s be completely honest, Manchester United has not played all that well for much of the season – maybe two or three games – but that has not stopped the Reds from still being top of the league by a minimum of two points, which, with all things considered, Sir Alex Ferguson will be quite thankful for it.
The Gaffer really could not have dreamed of a better position after seeing his team not really click out of second gear through the first 20 matches, but, now, Sir Alex must make sure that his very capable players are buckled down for the roller coaster ride they are about to get on.
Over the next five months in the league, United has to play five matches against the clubs that are currently in the top five in the standings – and with a Northwest Derby to boot.
After United play Liverpool in the FA Cup this weekend they travel to White Hart Lane next weekend to take on Tottenham; host Manchester City at Old Trafford in mid-February; make up the game with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which is only four days prior to a trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool; and finally finish it up with another cruel seven days with a visit to The Emirates to take on Arsenal, and then entertains the Blues at home in May.
These fixtures do not include all of the other potential bogey matches that United could face, and lesser clubs – and managers for that matter – would crumble to their knees looking at that hellish of a schedule.
Despite, Sir Alex bullishly stated that his team will deal with these matches full of confidence and composure, which will light more of a fire under the United supporters boldness.
If an honest critic looks at the remaining schedules of the top five teams, they would certainly give Arsenal the odds to win this season’s title, but, for some reason, United is still being tipped to take the trophy back home to where it belongs.
Even all of the pundits, who were about to crown Chelsea champions after the first three games, have now swayed their vote to United to win their fourth title in five seasons, and ignored Arsenal’s weak credentials.
Arsenal also faces the best chance of Chelsea, Tottenham and United of being knocked out of the Round of 16, because the Gunners face a two-legged footballing feast with Barcelona.
United’s opponent, Olympique de Marseille, is by no means an easy one, and the Reds will be forced to work their socks off if they are to advance to the Quarter-Finals, however, if Arsenal does get knocked out by Barca, which everyone is predicting them to, the Gunners would have gained another advantaged, because they would be fully-focused on the domestic league.
With everything said, these are the type of problems that managers and clubs should aspire to each and every season, and we all know that the Premier League title is never won in January, so get ready for the race to heat up.
The Manchester United supporters should really delve themselves into Sir Alex Ferguson quote, “Football, it’s a funny old game,” because this 2010/11 Barclays Premier League season will more than likely conjure up another twist and turn to where the trophy will end up in May.
Date – Opponent – Venue – Previous Result
Jan 16 – Tottenham Hotspur – White Hart Lane – W, 2-0
Jan 22 – Birmingham – Old Trafford – D, 1-1
Jan 25 – Blackpool – Bloomfield Road – DNP
Feb 01 – Aston Villa – Old Trafford – D, 2-2
Feb 05 – Wolverhampton Wanderers – Molineux Stadium, W, 2-1
Feb 13 – Manchester City – Old Trafford – D, 0-0
Feb 26 – Wigan Athletic – DW Stadium – W, 2-0
Mar 01 – Chelsea – Stamford Bridge – DNP
Mar 05 – Liverpool – Anfield – W, 3-2
Mar 19 – Bolton Wanderers – Old Trafford – D, 2-2
Apr 02 – West Ham United – Upton Park – W, 3-0
Apr 09 – Fulham – Old Trafford – D, 2-2
Apr 16 – Newcastle United – St James’ Park – W, 3-0
Apr 23 – Everton – Old Trafford – D, 3-3
Apr 30 – Arsenal – Emirates Stadium – W, 1-0
May 07 – Chelsea – Old Trafford – DNP
May 14 – Blackburn Rovers – Ewood Park – W, 7-1
May 22 – Blackpool – Old Trafford – DNP