Fixture List Favours United in Race for Fourth

With the Premier League restarting yesterday (Wednesday), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will benefit from the resumption of the league.

Sitting just three points outside the top four, United, who were undefeated in five, are now poised to push Chelsea all the way to the end of the season.

The Red Devils will be extremely confident that they can leapfrog Frank Lampard’s team and have been given a massive boost as Paul Pogba and top goal-scorer Marcus Rashford resumed training on Saturday following their spells on the side-line.

Having played only eight times this season, due to an ankle injury, Pogba has been unable to make any real impact on United’s campaign.

The talismanic Frenchmen was outstanding in the first game of the season when he chalked up two assists in a 4-0 drubbing of Chelsea, which even a certain Graeme Souness must’ve found hard to critique.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner will be looking to recapture the world-class form that saw him light up Serie A with Juventus and become the hottest midfielder on the market.

Ever since Bruno Fernandes joined in January, fans have been eagerly anticipating a midfield trio of Fred, Pogba and Fernandes. These three have the potential to dominate any midfield in the league and will be pivotal in United’s last nine games.

Not only does Solskjaer now have one of the strongest midfielders in the world at his disposal, but he now has Rashford back from his injury.

The 22-year-old has been in tremendous form this season having scored 19 goals in 31 games in all competitions. It was a massive blow when he got injured against Norwich in January, having just scored two goals in that game.

With their newly acquired Portuguese playmaker feeding balls to Rashford, it seems inevitable that he’ll build on his already impressive 14 Premier League goals.

The Mancunian side clearly missed the Englishman’s finishing when they lost back-to-back games at the end of January, most notably against Liverpool when Anthony Martial missed a key chance in the derby as their rivals ran out 2-0 victors.

Since their losses to Burnley and the champions-elect, United have gone undefeated having won six and drawn three (three wins and two draws in the league).

It has been no coincidence that their rejuvenation has coincided with Fernandes joining; he has been directly involved in five goals so far (two goals and three assists) which earnt him the Premier League player of the month for February.

If his inspiring display in a 2-0 win over fierce rivals Manchester City, where he delicately chipped the ball to set up Martial for the first goal, wasn’t enough to win over the fans at Old Trafford, his ‘shushing’ gesture to Pep Guardiola rocketed him to cult hero status.

Coming from Sporting Lisbon, he quickly installed a winning mentality in the dressing room when he told his team-mates they should be “mad” after they drew away to Everton.

His drive and determination have been key for his side’s transformation in their recent matches and now, with Pogba and Rashford back playing, things will only improve.

United travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Friday for their first game since the suspension of the league. Jose Mourinho will be looking to get one over on his successor as Spurs will also have a boosted squad following the return to fitness for several of their players including their prolific frontman Harry Kane.

If the Red Devils can get a win over the inconsistent Londoners, then this will set them up nicely for their remaining eight games.

The Norwegian manager has shown his managerial improvement this season as his side have done the league double over Chelsea and Manchester City and will be looking to do the same to Spurs.

After this game they play: Sheffield United (H), Brighton&Hove Albion (A), Bournemouth (H), Aston Villa (A), Southampton (H), Crystal Palace (A), West Ham United (H) and Leicester City (A).

It isn’t unreasonable to suggest that they can get maximum points from their run-in as they play five out of the bottom seven. Their toughest test, at least on paper, will be on the final day of the season when they face the high flying Foxes.

Come the final day, they should be coming off the back of several victories and be in a strong position to finish in the top four.

Chelsea on the other hand still need to play Manchester City and Sheffield United before they travel to Anfield and then play Wolves in their final two games of the season.

Having the easier fixtures, United will be confident that they can finish in the coveted fourth spot and with the return of Rashford and Pogba I believe they will jump above Chelsea come the end of the season.

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