Why this week could end Manchester United’s Premier League title challenge

The Red Devils are entering a pivotal point in their season

Manchester United have entered the most important few days of Erik ten Hag’s reign, with two knockout games and a cup final to come in the space of seven days.

It is a defining week of their season. Come next Thursday, they could be the reigning Carabao Cup champions and through to the last 16 of the Europa League, where they will join the likes of Arsenal and Real Betis. They may also have got past West Ham in the fifth round of the FA Cup and have made it into the last eight, where they could face teams ranging from Manchester City to Grimsby Town.

In an alternate universe, however, they could have tasted three defeats and be left just to focus on the Premier League. But even that might be beyond them.

The Red Devils do not kick another ball in the Premier League until March 5th, when they travel to Anfield to take on a Liverpool side thrashed 5-2 by Real Madrid. Currently sitting third and just five points off top of the Premier League Arsenal, they could find themselves 14 adrift by the time that they kick off against their old enemy.

That comes with the Gunners playing three times before Ten Hag’s side take to the pitch in the English top flight again, with a tricky away tie against Leicester City followed by home games against relegation-threatened pair Bournemouth and Everton.

Should Mikel Arteta’s side leave those games with nine points, by no means a certainty but certainly a possibility, it would leave Manchester United with a mountain to climb, even with two games in hand.

Seven of their last 14 games are against fellow sides in the top half of the Premier League, though they will benefit when Arsenal and Manchester City meet again in April, with at least one side guaranteed to drop points.

Nonetheless, tricky trips to Brighton, Tottenham and Newcastle remain for Ten Hag’s side, and should they progress further in either the FA Cup or Europa League, they will be forced to juggle playing every three days for much of the remainder of the season.

Of course, this remains worst case scenario, and United are certainly in favourable positions for all three of their cup ties, but talk of a title under Ten Hag may prove itself to be excessively premature in a week’s time.

Read more:

What Jadon Sancho asked Erik ten Hag after return to Manchester United squad

Manchester United team news & predicted line-up vs Barcelona

Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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