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Stretch Run Will Make or Break Manchester United’s Season

To date, Manchester United, with their relatively weak schedule and all, sit in a much better position than most people thought prior to the start of the season.

Last year, United struggled to a seventh-place finish in the Premiere League, the biggest fall of a defending champion in league history. And coming off of another managerial change, things didn’t look too good for the Red Devils coming into the season back in August.

But United currently sit in fourth in the Premiere League, which would be good enough to advance to the play-in round of the UEFA Champions League, and just one point behind third place Arsenal.

That being said, the stretch run of games for Manchester United from here to the end of the season will define their season and whether Louis van Gaal’s experiment as manager of the squad.

Compared to the other top teams in England, United have had a relative easy road to the top four so far this season. They have yet to play Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool a second time and, though it technically won’t effect the Premiere League campaign, the Red Devils will face Arsenal in an FA Cup match next Monday, which could provide a big boost for the squad.

Going through those three teams, as well as Tottenham, which seems to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this season, will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Chelsea, when they’re not struggling against weaker opponents, has been almost unstoppable, especially at Stamford Bridge. Though United did earn a draw earlier in the year at Old Trafford, it’s difficult to see the team coming out with a win. And those fixtures against City (home) and Liverpool (away), won’t be easy either as City will be desperate to stay in the hunt for the title and Liverpool has improved leaps and bounds and are arguably the biggest threat to United’s current spot in the Champions League.

But United have been playing much better as of late as well. They’re coming off of a 2-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday, which, though much of the game was frustrating for both the supporters and players, was successful. Plus, United have only lost two matches since the start of the year, although both of those were pretty bad to Southhampton and Swansea City and both were at Old Trafford.

Midfielder/Forward/Somewhere in between, Wayne Rooney, leads the team with 11 goals, which includes two goals in the win on Saturday. The first came on a “poacher” goal, where he headed a blocked shot into a very empty net, which was the result of him playing up front where many want him to be playing. And Robin van Persie is just behind with 10 goals and with Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao hopefully returning to form, United will be as strong as possible heading into this tough stretch of games.

Manchester United’s season is about to get a whole lot more difficult with matches against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool remaining. But considering how they’ve played up to this point, the Red Devils stand a considerable chance to hold their fourth-place spot come season’s end.