Jose Mourinho has been well on course thus far to continue his record of winning the league in his second season in charge at every club he’s been at. After a disappointing 6th placed finish last year, Manchester United strengthened smartly during the summer, and were touted one of the favourites from the very start. They haven’t disappointed, dropping just 2 points in their opening 7 games, and keeping 6 clean sheets.
There is though, one thing to consider. On paper, the fixtures United have faced thus far are all ones they would have been expected to win. The teams they have beaten are West Ham United, Swansea City, Leicester City, Everton, Southampton and Crystal Palace. The highest placed team amongst these is Southampton, at 12th. The rest of them are all 15th or lower. Stoke City are the only side to take points off United this season, and are placed 13th.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Mourinho’s men have hardly been tested yet. It is also worth noting that despite such a straightforward start to their season, they haven’t run away with the lead. In fact, they are placed second on goal difference to Manchester City, who have been absolutely brilliant. Their neighbours have faced and beaten the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, and have really settled under Pep Guardiola.
The real test starts now
This weekend sees United travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool. In what will be by far their toughest test yet, we will get a much better account of how good the Red Devils really are. Until now, they have been seamless from back to front, with Nemanja Matic looking like a beast in midfield in front of the back 4 and Romelu Lukaku finding the back of the net in every game except one.
Liverpool haven’t been at their best but will always take a home game against United very seriously. Jurgen Klopp’s men provide the pace in attack to really trouble their opponents on Saturday.
This is the start of a much more testing period for United. After only facing teams in the bottom half in their first 7 games, they will face Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City in their next 9 assignments. These are all teams expected to be in the top 6 come the end of the season.
So, while it may all feel like sunshine and rainbows at Old Trafford at the moment, the fans would be wise to reserve their judgement and excitement for a while longer. They can rest assured that the next couple of months are going to have their fair share of ups and downs. If United can come out of this period still within touching distance of the summit, they can well and truly consider themselves serious contenders for the title.
Mourinho has proven himself to be a real mastermind when it comes to big games in the past. It’s time for him to show his prowess again.
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