Manchester United may have only drawn their last Premier League match, but the 2-2 draw against West Brom will certainly give a lot of confidence to the team going into a crucial run of matches. A lot has been made about the ‘easy start’ to the campaign with not many matches against the top teams. United have struggled for consistency during the opening eight matches of the season, but there are signs that Louis Van Gaal is close to getting what he wants from the team. Premier League betting odds from Betfair now places United at a comfortable 8/15 to finish in the top four.
The dropped points against West Brom came exactly a month after the 5-3 defeat against Leicester City. The difference between the two matches is quite startling especially in terms of consistency. The match against Leicester will be remembered as a game of two halves with Angel di Maria dominating the first before the opposition came back in the second half.
Competition in the Premier League is so intense that concentration throughout the 90 minutes is vital even against teams fighting near the bottom of the table; United have clearly failed to reproduce that until now. There were signs against West Brom that the defence is still not 100% yet, but the Red Devils were able to limit the opposition to only a handful of chances.
United face Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal in the next five league encounters, while the matches against Crystal Palace and Hull City also represent potential banana skins.
It certainly helps that United have recovered sufficiently in terms of injuries. Michael Carrick is set to return this weekend and he will provide some much needed experience to the back four. Marouane Fellaini appeared to have no future at United, but Van Gaal showed against West Brom that he is not afraid to use the physicality of the former Everton man even though it is not in United’s tradition. Rooney is also close to completing his three match suspension and will be available against Arsenal and City.
Betfair expects Radamel Falcao to finish as United’s top scorer this season. He is 28/1 to win the Premier League Golden Boot award.
Angel di Maria has become the go-to man for creating chances, but the Argentine has showed a tendency to become a little ineffective after the 70th minute. He has completed 90 minutes of action only twice this season. It is not clear whether the pace of the Premier League or the lack of a proper rest during the summer – because of the World Cup – is the reason.
United are certainly not at their best, but then again, they do not appear far away from it.