Manchester United: Ranking Their 10 Most Important Games Left in the Season
Manchester United have been one of the most consistent teams in the world under Sir Alex Ferguson, and though the manager has won all the titles, he is a winner and will expect full commitment from his players.
The Red Devils face a strong title challenge from their neighbours, Manchester City, who have been very good this season. Ferguson has been intelligent with regard to his signings and has integrated a number of young players to the first team.
The Red Devils are currently two points behind City, but they could overtake their rivals if they show immense consistency, and also, the Manchester derby could potentially be a deciding factor in who wins the Premiership title this season. Ferguson did not make many January signings, but it looks like another astute move from the experienced manager to bring back Scholes, who has shown his qualities already for United.
They will need to be very consistent throughout the season, with City also having an excellent team this season. There is still a long way to go till the end of the season, and there are some very important games for United this season. This article is a ranking on 10 of the most important fixtures remaining in United's season.
10. Manchester United vs. Ajax (Europa League)
Date: Feb. 23
Manchester United have been knocked out of the Champions League, and also the FA Cup and the Carling Cup, which is quite surprising. However, they still have a chance to win the Europa league as well as the Premiership this season. Though the Europa league will be at a lesser priority, Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking to win as much silverware as possible this season. Also, it comes at a tricky time for the Red Devils, and a victory in this tie will give them more momentum in their title challenge.
Ajax were also knocked out of the Champions League and have got a very tough tie against Manchester United. However, they do have some quality players like Christian Eriksen and also some others who could threaten United's defense. The Red Devils cannot afford to underestimate the Dutch side and will look to win the game at Old Trafford, which could give them more chances to progress.
9. Manchester United vs. Fulham
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Date: March 26
Manchester United will certainly be competing till the last minute of their season to win the Premiership title, and it is important for them to be consistent at this stage of the season. They have had inconsistent performances in the first half of the season, but with the return of Paul Scholes, they have played much better, and he could be a decisive factor for the Red Devils. This Fulham game will be very important because it comes in the middle of a list of games which they would consider winnable.
Tottenham take on United on March 4, and after that game, United have relatively less tough fixtures until they face Everton. West Brom (H), Wolves (A), Fulham (H), Blackburn (A), QPR (H), Wigan (A) and Aston Villa (H) are all games which they will fancy their chances of winning the game.
The Fulham game could be tricky because they are a well-organized team, and if they do not gain maximum points from the fixture, then it could lead a loss in their momentum, which is very important.
8. Blackburn vs. Manchester United
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Date: April 2
Blackburn obtained a shock win at Old Trafford, as they defeated Manchester United in one of the biggest upsets in the season so far. Blackburn scored three goals thanks to Yakubu, and Manchester United could score only two goals; the result was unexpected to say the least.
Dimitar Berbatov had equalized for United in the second half, and with Blackburn facing immense pressure in the last half hour, it was expected that United could find the winner before the close of the game.
However, it was to be the other way around, as Grant Hanley managed to score the goal largely due to David De Gea's lack of authority in the penalty area. Also, with United playing a weakened defense in the game, they made errors which they should not make in the game against Steve Kean's men.
The game comes in between a relatively easier run of fixtures, which is why it is imperative that Manchester United are able to secure all the three points from this fixture.
7. Manchester United vs. Swansea City
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Date: May 5
Swansea City have been one of the most refreshing teams in the Premiership this season due to their excellent passing style of play and have shown that they do have the quality to get even better under their current manager, Brendan Rodgers. They focus on quick, short passing which helps them retain possession, and also, they have talented wingers who help create chances using their pace and trickery.
Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer have shown that they are a real danger to even the top defenses and could have an important role to play against United.
Manchester United play the Welsh club in the penultimate game of the season just after the Manchester derby and will not want to drop any points at that stage of the season. The Red Devils have some crucial fixtures towards the end of the season. This is one of the most important fixtures, as it will not be easy to take all three points against Swansea, who have shown the quality to trouble even the best teams in the Premiership.
6. Manchester United vs. Everton
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Date: April 21
Manchester United need to be very consistent in order to win the Premiership title this season, and every game will be very important for the Red Devils. The game against Everton will be very important because it is towards the end of the season. It is the game before the crucial Manchester derby, and dropped points in this game could be a huge factor in influencing this title race. It is very important for Manchester United that they beat Everton and go to the Etihad stadium with good confidence as well.
It will be difficult to beat Everton because they are a team who are very resilient and well-organized under David Moyes. Also, they have the creative players, like Steven Pienaar, who can cause problems to the Manchester United backline. Everton have always been a difficult opponent for the top teams, and it will be a tricky fixture for United because they do need to get the three points in order to have a decent chance of winning the Premiership.
5. Sunderland vs. Manchester United
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Date: May 13
The last game of the season for Manchester United this season is an away game against Sunderland. Sunderland were struggling after the first few games of the season, where they were hovering around the relegation zone, and Steve Bruce was sacked by Sunderland.
Martin O'Neill was appointed as the new manager, and since his appointment, they have been in superb form, producing many consistent performances, which has seen them enter the top half of the Premiership table. They have shown their resilience under Martin O'Neill and will be a tricky fixture for United.
It is the last game of the season, and if United do need a win to ensure the title, then it could be a relatively tough fixture for them because Sunderland have the quality to trouble United's defense. However, if Sunderland are safe and are not able to qualify for European places, then it could be better for United if their intensity drops because of lesser motivation.
4. Manchester United vs. Liverpool
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Date: Feb. 11
Manchester United and Liverpool are two of the greatest clubs in the world, and they have a fierce rivalry which makes the contest even more exciting. The Red Devils have overtaken Liverpool with respect to number of league titles won, but games between the two clubs remain fiercely contested.
Under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool have been more attacking and have shown that they can improve further in the coming years. They did knock Manchester United in the FA Cup, and the Red Devils will look to show their quality against the Reds at Old Trafford.
The league fixture comes at a time when United are trailing leaders City, which provides even more incentive for the Red Devils to secure a win against their arch-rivals. This is also the first time that Luis Suarez will come up against Patrice Evra after serving his eight-game ban, which will also increase the intensity of the game.
Liverpool are involved in a tough fight for the fourth place, while United are fighting for the title, and both teams will be desperate to win and gain three points from this tough fixture.
3. The Europa League Final
Date: May 9
The Europa league would not have been on the minds of Sir Alex Ferguson or his players at the start of the season, but due to their poor performances in the Champions League, they find themselves in the competition.
Manchester United are always going to play to win a competition, which is why Ferguson will want to win the Europa league as well. There are some good teams in the competition, like Valencia and rivals Manchester City, and it will not be easy for them to win the trophy.
United might not play their full-strength sides in some of the Europa league games and could give opportunities to youngsters. However, Ferguson is likely to play a strong side in the final because it will give them a good chance of winning the trophy. They do have the quality to win the competition, and they could consider it as a good opportunity to gain another trophy.
2. Tottenham vs. Manchester United
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Date: March 4
Tottenham have been refreshing this season with their bold attacking style of play, and also, they have managed to get results consistently, which is why they are in a decent position to hold on to their Champions League place and even compete for the Premiership title.
The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, has managed to make some good additions since the two teams met last time at Old Trafford, and the new signings, Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor, have settled in really well at White Hart Lane.
The game against Tottenham comes at an important time for United because they cannot afford to drop points in this close title race. However, it will be difficult to defeat Spurs at home because they are a quality side in excellent form. The Red Devils have some more winnable games to come after that, but three points in this game could be a huge boost in this exciting title race.
1. Manchester City vs. Manchester United
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Date: April 28
Manchester City humiliated Manchester United by defeating them, 6-1, at Old Trafford, and the Red Devils will look to get their revenge when they meet at the Etihad stadium in April. Both the Manchester clubs will most likely be involved in the Premiership title race till the end of the season, which is why the Manchester derby will assume even more importance this season apart from bragging rights.
United have a relatively easy fixture list in March and April, which is why they will be keen to close the gap on leaders City, who will be boosted by the return of the Toure brothers. The Red Devils will be keen to retain the Premiership title and will enjoy it even more if they can beat City to secure the title.