MANCHESTER UNITED have propelled themselves into the title picture this season.
After years of merely fighting for top four at best, fans were recently treated to the almost forgotten taste of what it’s like to be top of the Premier League.
United drew a blank against the GunnersCredit: Getty Images – Getty
But in the blink of an eye, Manchester City have motored past them and suddenly find themselves overwhelming favourites to win the title.
So what’s gone wrong for United?
Principally to blame was the shocking home defeat to Sheffield United, in which the Red Devils struggled to conjure much going forward, despite the array of attacking talent at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s disposal.
While the Blades result was a rare aberration against one of the league’s whipping boys, such blunt attacking displays have become the norm against the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ this season.
In six league clashes against the ‘elite’ bracket teams, the Red Devils have managed just one goal – Bruno Fernandes’ second minute penalty in the 6-1 thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur.
In the five games since, as pointed out by SunSport’s Phil Cadden, United have drawn 0-0 with Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and today Arsenal – as well as losing 1-0 to the Gunners in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford.
It’s no secret that boss Solskjaer feels more comfortable setting his teams up to thwart others, relying on swift counter-attacking football to score.
But in today’s Premier League, can that only get you so far?
The Red Devils played out a dire 0-0 draw with City before ChristmasCredit: Reuters
CASINO DEALS: BEST SIGN UP OFFERS TO CLAIM OVER £700
City have climbed to the top of the mountain through seeking to sweep aside all before them, almost always dominating the ball and looking to play on the front foot while creating numerous chances.
Liverpool have been the same throughout their recent successes, with those two rivals of United’s having dominated the league for nearly four years now.
The Red Devils have shown at times this season that they are capable of producing devastating counter-attacking football – most notably in last weekend’s 3-2 FA Cup triumph over Liverpool, as well as the 5-0 romp over RB Leipzig in the Champions League – in addition to the stunning 2-1 win over PSG in Paris.
But are such feats easily repeatable?
Such flops as the return matches against Leipzig and PSG, lost 3-2 and 3-1 respectively, would suggest not – with these results costing them their place in the Champions League.
And should United not develop more versatility on the attack, and at the very least a capability of going at top sides on the front foot more often, they may always have a glass ceiling over what they can achieve in the Premier League under Solskjaer – despite improvements this season.
United crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of RB LeipzigCredit: Getty Images – Getty
⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news from Old Trafford