Wednesday 23 September 2015

United's title chances hinge on crucial October

Louis van Gaal suggested after Southampton that his side can challenge for the title this season and, from what we have seen in these very early days, he may be right.

A midfield spruced up by summer signings and an attack with added firepower with the acquisition of Martial-in stark contrast to last season, United have made a good start this time around.

However, one glance at October's fixtures and you feel that this could be a defining month in our season.
We start with an away trip to Arsenal on the 4th- despite a decent recent record at the Emirates, a trip to Arsene Wenger's Gunners is never easy but Wayne Rooney loves scoring against them so this could be an ideal opportunity for skipper to shine.

If we're confident about returning from Arsenal with three points, then we should be less so in our next game- a trip to a ground that is rapidly turning into my least favourite away day.

Goodison Park.

We've lost there the past three seasons (with 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0 scorelines) and no matter what form the Toffees are in, they relish a big name scalp and are always difficult to beat.
Having already seen off Chelsea, Roberto Martinez's side will be searching for a fourth consecutive home win against the Reds.

The trip to Everton comes after the international break and then, following the two league games, a trip to Russia to face CSKA in the Champions League just four days before the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

By this time we'll know what shape we'll be in- can we continue our early season pursuit of our cross-town rivals and ensure that the OT showdown is a meeting of the top two sides in the division. 

City have a favourable fixture list so you would not expect them to drop many points between now and then so, although it's probably still too early to call as a "title decider", the derby has the look of a massively important match and could be pivotal in both sides ambitions this season.

In my view, it's the derby that will determine whether United are genuine title contenders.

We finish October with yet another away match- our fourth out of five in all competitions next month, and one that, in its own way looks just as tough as the others.

Normally, you wouldn't expect United to be worried about a trip to Palace but at the end of a testing month in which United's focus and resolve will have been tested to the limit, you would not pick Selhurst Park as a guarantee for victory. 

Alan Pardew has build an impressive outfit at the South London side (they have won at Chelsea and pushed Arsenal and City close in narrow home losses) and would like nothing more than to give their passionate, loyal home supporters another win over one of the league's big boys. 

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