Red Devils Continue To March Through

01/03/2019

 

Will Ole’s vehicle ever falter? Since Solskjaer got behind the wheel, he has steered Manchester United to thirteen victories out of a possible fifteen, remaining undefeated in the Premier League in the process.

The fans have not been singing so loud and proud since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and the Norwegian looks poised to receive the job on a full-time basis. Still though, United find themselves in a battle for a top four finish, a race that looks destined to go down until the final day of the season.

With January and February now behind us, the club’s fixture list looks a little less congested for the month ahead. Take a look at who the red side of Manchester will be taking on in March.

Premier League: Southampton (H)

From now until the end of the season, every club is scraping for points. But perhaps no more so than those down at the bottom of the table, who are desperate to maintain their Premier League status for next season. Those potentially facing relegation are the toughest competitors during the business end of the campaign and United welcome 17th placed Southampton on Saturday 2nd March.

The Red Devils have been made heavy favourites at 4/9 with Betfred to triumph over the Saints, but the team should be wary of becoming too complacent. The 2-2 draw at home to Burnley at the end of January came out of nowhere, as United rotated heavily and the fringe players failed to carry any form of positive momentum into the game. We are not expecting Solskjaer to treat the fixture lightly as with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal also facing each other on the day, any result from that fixture will allow United to capitalise on dropped points.

From Southampton’s perspective, results have been up and down since Ralph Hasenhuttl has come in, registering five wins, five losses and five draws from his opening fifteen games in charge. Away trips to the top six sides won’t determine the Saints’ eventual fate this season, but they will be eager to pick up points wherever they are possible. They will undoubtedly arrive at Old Trafford with a deep block and rely on Nathan Redmond’s pace on the counter, but it would take a brave punter to fancy the 17th placed side to leave Manchester with some points.

Champions League: Paris St Germain (A)

Sacré bleu. The sound of their name makes us United fans have a little shudder. The only team currently to hand our baby faced assassin a defeat during his time as United boss, on a night where we were so full of optimism and belief. Our dreams of reaching the last sixteen of the Champions League were emphatically all but put to bed in February, with PSG snatching two crucial away goals.

A struggling Sanchez after PSG defeat.

If a trip to the Parc des Princes wasn’t tricky enough, United will arrive in Paris needing to score at least two goals to progress through, so the odds are certainly stacked against them. Solskjaer reiterated the message that ‘mountains are there to be climbed’, but this potential challenge is shaping up to look like a Mount Everest. Special European nights have been carved into the history books of United down the years and progressing past PSG would certainly be up there with an achievement of the highest calibre. Betfred have them down at 12/1 to do so.

A two goal deficit isn’t an impossible challenge but preventing the Parisians from getting on the score-sheet might be. The last time they failed to score a goal at home was against Toulouse in February 2017.  Winning the Champions League was never going to be a realistic piece of criteria to judge Solskjaer on, but fans will still expect a courageous performance against the Ligue 1 champions.

Premier League: Arsenal (A)

It really is crunch time. Undoubtedly the most pivotal fixture of the month is United’s trip down to the Emirates on 10th March. At present, the Gunners sit above United in the table by a singular point, with both teams, Chelsea and Tottenham all locked in for a race to finish in the top four come the end of the season.

Arsenal have been in good form of late, winning their last five fixtures, and they now look up for a fight after a little falter during the Christmas period. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be the side’s main talisman, boasting sixteen league goals to his name this season. Unai Emery’s solid system of the 4-2-3-1 has proved to be successful in shutting out opposition, whilst still having enough firepower to find the goals up top.

Can United repeat their FA Cup win over Arsenal?

United should enter the fixture brimming with confidence though, having humiliated Arsenal on their home turf 3-1 back in January. It was an impressive victory to say the least, with Jesse Lingard and co moonwalking into the fifth round of the FA Cup with relative ease. This was United’s second successive triumph at the Emirates, but we can expect this upcoming game to be a little tighter when the two sides clash again.

We can label the fixture as a ‘six-pointer’, as both teams have the opportunity to stake a huge claim for Champions League qualification with a victory.

FA Cup: Wolves (A)

United’s victory over Arsenal did, of course, set up a future clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on March 16th in the FA Cup. It wasn’t exactly the most generous tie that could have been handed to the Red Devils, but the travelling fans will certainly enjoy the Saturday night journey over to the West Midlands.

Nuno Santo’s side have impressed the neutrals this season, to which they currently sit seventh in the Premier League table. Given the financial powers and gap between the supposed ‘big six’, finishing seventh is the equivalent to finishing first for the rest of the division. The Wanderers have achieved their position in stylish fashion too, playing some attractive football in the process.

Molineux is not an easy away trip for any travelling side, and Solskjaer won’t be granted with the opportunity to make 6-7 changes to his side, as Wolves will be fielding a strong starting XI. The FA Cup should now be the main priority for Santo this season and having defeated Liverpool in the competition already, they will be confident to upset the odds against the Red Devils. Wolves are 15/2 to win the FA Cup this season with Betfred.

Premier League: Watford (H)

Finishing off March, United’s last game of the month will be against Watford at Old Trafford. Similarly to Wolves, Watford also find themselves in a respectable position in the Premier League rankings, sitting comfortably in 8th. Javi Garcia will be in the running for the manager of the season if this form continues, as the Hornets have been the league’s surprise performers this season.

The Spanish manager has formulated a successful system at Vicarage Road, placing heavy emphasis on his midfielder’s involvement and the constant recycling of the ball. Their style has been pretty on the eye, but they have struggled away at the big boys. United will enter the fixture as the favourites and they do have more to play for than their travelling opponents.

Under Solskjaer, we have seen United set up so positive at home that we are now seeing the opposition come to Old Trafford with a defensive gameplan. With their three central midfielders, the Hornets will attempt to formulate a rigid shape for United to breakdown and hurt the Red Devils in behind their fullbacks. They haven’t won away at a top six ground this season, and United will be keen to extend this run at the end of the month.

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