Monday, 8 February 2016

A fight to the finish in top four tussle

A draw and vibrant performance at Chelsea would normally be considered a good result but in the circumstances it was two points dropped and a valuable lead squandered.

The point apiece at Stamford Bridge left us in fifth, six points off fourth-placed neighbours City and seven off Arsenal, but the top four all meet on Sunday and United will make up ground with a win at struggling Sunderland.

Looking at the table now with the season entering the run-in, that all-important Champions League place may look a fair way off, but there's a lot of football still to be played and the picture may be brighter for United this time next week. 

City host second-placed Spurs and third takes on first at the Emirates, meaning that at least two of our top-four rivals will drop points and we have to take advantage with maximum return from the potential banana skin at the Stadium of Light. 

Arsenal host Leicester at the weekend and then travel to Old Trafford on the 28th Feb in a match of increasing importance, but the Gunners have been unconvincing of late and won't relish the trip to United whom have an imposing record against the top of the table sides under Louis van Gaal.

There's 13 games still to go- matches that include trips to the Etihad and White Hart Lane and the visit of league leaders Leicester in our penultimate home game of the campaign.

April looks to be our most challenging month of the run-in, as we host an always sticky Toffees outfit before the aforementioned trip to Tottenham a week later and then we host struggling but improving Villa on the 16th.

Our final trip to Upton Park against West Ham- currently right behind us in sixth- follows before that match with Leicester (will they still be top by then) on the 30th.

We finish against bottom half sides Norwich and Bournemouth- both of whom we lost to in that dismal December- but we've improved since then and have to be confident of six points from those final two matches of the campaign. 

Second placed Spurs have a difficult run-in as they face City, us, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea before the end of the season, so whilst they deserve to be where they are, it's hard to see them maintaining their current trajectory. 

Currently on 41 points, a 10-win target from the 13 remaining matches would give us 71 (one more than last season) and should be sufficient for a top-four finish.

There's going to be a lot of twist, turns, tension and drama in the weeks to come- and we're still right in the fight. 













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