Manchester United had been aided by a fairly tame post-Christmas schedule to increase their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight video games forward of the Manchester Derby.
Pep Guardiola’s Cityzens got here to city in a little bit of a stoop, however Jack Grealish’s second-half opener put them in an excellent place to walk out of Old Trafford with three factors and bragging rights. Then, within the area of 4 unforgettable and controversial minutes, the Red Devils turned the tide. A 1-0 deficit swiftly morphed right into a 2-1 benefit. The Theatre of Dreams was alive and kicking.
United’s victory over their noisy neighbours solidified their legitmacy beneath Erik ten Hag. While a title cost could also be out of their attain, they’re in a superb place to return to the Champions League by way of a top-four Premier League end.
Man Utd have two avenues into the Champions League subsequent season. As it stands, a top-four end seems extra seemingly than a Europa League triumph given their opponents within the first knockout spherical.
Ten Hag’s could not have requested for a trickier tie as they had been paired towards Barcelona within the play-offs. The victor will advance into the spherical of 16, the place the likes of Arsenal, Real Betis and Real Sociedad await. They may be joined by Juventus, Ajax, AS Roma, and Sporting CP ought to every of those groups win their respective play-off ties.
Thus, whereas United are one of many favourites to win the Europa League, the competitors is a robust one.
In the Premier League, the Red Devils presently boast a wholesome benefit over a few of their projected rivals. While Newcastle have equalled their factors tally having performed a recreation extra, United are comfortably forward of Tottenham (5 factors), Liverpool, and Chelsea (each ten factors) within the standings. Fulham, Brighton and Brentford are all European hopefuls, however none of those groups are anticipated to compete for a top-four berth.
So, whereas there’s a lengthy option to go, United are in a really sturdy place to qualify for the Champions League by securing a top-four end.