Manchester United’s Crucial Upcoming Fixtures
Last Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Aston Villa gave Manchester United their fifth win on the bounce. Two goals at the end of each half from Spanish schemer, Ander Herrera were sandwiched between a memorable Wayne Rooney volley in a comfortable win.
That vital victory for the Red Devils also enhanced their advantage over rivals Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton in the quest for Champions League football next season. Crystal Palace also did the red-half of Manchester a big favour on Monday night by seeing off Manuel Pellegrini’s team with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Selhurst Park that leaves United above Manchester City by one point.
With seven games left of this unpredictable season, anything can still happen as we enter the crucial phase. However, it is unlikely to believe that any of Arsenal, United or City will catch Chelsea for the title but stranger things have happened before in the Premier League. Manchester United have some vital fixtures on the horizon that will determine where Louis van Gaal’s men will finish in the league standings, and here we will discuss some of those in more detail.
The most important remaining fixture – to the supporters at least – will be this Sunday’s clash with local rivals, Manchester City at Old Trafford, 16:00 kick-off, live on Sky Sports. United have several scores to settle with the blue half of Manchester after being defeated in the last four derbies – but have never lost five on the trot. City will also be looking to get back on track themselves after their defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday, and neither team will be wanting to finish in that fourth place, which constitutes an early Champions League qualification game that can interrupt pre-season plans. A hotly contested affair awaits this Sunday afternoon, in what promises to be one of the games of the season.
The big games just keep coming for Louis van Gaal’s side as on the following Saturday – 18th April, 17:30 kick-off, live on Sky Sports, United face a trip to West London to take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea seem to be doing the necessary to claim their first league success in five years, but United in their current form are likely to provide a stern test for Mourinho’s side. Chelsea are to be without top scorer, Diego Costa after he limped out of the recent 2-1 home win over Stoke with a hamstring complaint. The reverse fixture at Old Trafford saw United sneak a 1-1 draw due to a late Robin van Persie strike, in a game that was heavily dominated by their London rivals. This fixture will be a true test for van Gaal’s side on how far the team has progressed since then.
A trio of difficult and intriguing upcoming fixtures are completed on Sunday 26th April, 13:30 kick-off, live on Sky Sports, as Manchester United face another tough away day at Goodison Park against Everton. The blue half of Merseyside have not enjoyed as much success this season in comparison to their last campaign, but Roberto Martinez’s side always pose a difficult test for United on their home patch. United came away with a battling 2-1 home victory earlier in the season – mainly down to the heroics of goalkeeper, David de Gea – and will be hoping for a similar outcome again. Everton old boys, Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini can also expect a fierce reception from the Goodison crowd in what promises to be another awkward fixture for the Red Devils.
United’s last home game – and penultimate fixture - on Sunday 17th May, 16:00 kick-off, live on Sky Sports, will see Arsenal travel to Old Trafford. A lot of football is to be played in between now when this fixture comes around, but this game is very likely to define which team will finish above their rival if a victory can be obtained. United grabbed an unlikely 2-1 win at the Emirates earlier in the season after soaking up waves of Arsenal pressure throughout, but the Gunners gained some revenge with a 2-1 FA Cup win at Old Trafford last month as United old-boy, Danny Welbeck took advantage of some sloppy United defending to silence the Old Trafford crowd. This game could even have title implications for either team, if Chelsea drop enough points to make it interesting – although it is highly unlikely.