Manchester United enter the final third of the season with a huge lead in the title race. Not since 2001, when Arsenal lay in United’s wake, have the Reds had such an advantage on the opposition. This time it’s Manchester City way back, but hoping to get into the slipstream of their rivals, as the climax to the season approaches.
Sir Alex Ferguson now has to juggle one of his deepest ever squads in order to maintain a strong challenge on all three fronts. But, after the bitterness of last ditch, goal difference defeat to Manchester City last year, the Manchester United boss is playing strong teams every week in the league – he’d like to keep City at arm’s length this time around.
The Scottish terrier wants to get this title wrapped up as soon as possible. With a 12 point lead and 33 to play for, 22 points from 11 games will make absolutely certain for Manchester United. In all likelihood 7 wins will do it. If they draw at OT to Manchester City on 8 April(tbc), 6 wins should get them over the line.
It’s easy to imagine 4 of those wins coming from home games against Norwich this weekend, then Reading, Villa and Swansea. And, on this form, you’d expect them to beat Chelsea at Old Trafford too. So a solitary win or three draws from Stoke (a), Sunderland (a), Arsenal (a) West Brom (a) and West Ham (a) should do it for United.
Easier said than done, but Manchester United look at their sharpest in a few years and as if they will win every time they take to the field. They aren’t too concerned with showboating or generating cricket scores. They simply want to chalk off the victories as conservatively as possible.
In short, you’d have to be absolutely off your tiny chops to bet against Manchester United winning the title in this mood and from this position.