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21 Times, 21 Times Man Utd?

Following a comprehensive 3-0 victory over basement-club Sunderland on Saturday, Manchester United returned to the summit of the Barclays Premier League Table for the first time since August 2013, when David Moyes’ side had defeated Swansea City 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium in the Scots’ first game in charge of the Reds. But can we now be considered genuine contenders for the Title?

After a low-scoring and difficult first few league matches in 2015/16, Louis Van Gaal’s men have now won three league games on the spin, scoring nine goals in the process. The Reds have now won five of their seven opening league matches, whilst also enjoying the joint best defensive record in the league, having conceded only five goals during that time, and sit a point clear of neighbours City on 16 points.

The United manager was clearly delighted with the result in his post-match interview. The Dutchman stated: Last season at this stage I think we were in 13th position in the league table, so I’m a happy coach. In the second half we controlled the game more than we attacked and I hope that the fans have understanding for that. I was very pleased with the third goal because it was a more accurate reflection of the game.”

United fans can of course be encouraged by champions Chelsea’s abysmal start to their title defence, with Mourinho’s side having managed only two wins from their opening seven matches. Title favourites and local rivals Manchester City have now lost their last two league games, and their last three in all competititions, after it seemed the 2012 and 2014 champions were all set to run away with the league in this season.

There is no doubt that a tough run of league fixtures lie ahead over the next few weeks, with trips to Arsenal and Everton, the Manchester Derby and a visit to Selhurst Park to come in October. But United supporters can take great optimism from the instant impact of £36 million wonder-kid Anthony Martial, with the young French Striker notching an impressive four goals in his first three games for the club; Spanish stopper David de Gea has committed his future to the club after being on the verge of a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid; and fan-favourite Juan Mata’s recent form and man-of-the-match displays have seen him become an integral part of Van Gaal’s side – the Spaniard has scored 18 times in 55 league games for the Reds. Furthermore, Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay have now registered their first league goals of the campaign after netting at the weekend, and United fans will hope there are many more of these to come from these two over the course of the season.

After the doom and gloom felt by most United fans on transfer deadline day, things certainly seem to appear a lot more positive for the red half of Manchester. United now stand at just 5/1 to win the Premier League Title this season – if our current form continues, perhaps there is still every chance of Manchester United lifting the Premier League Trophy come May 2016.

Juan Mata celebrates after making it 3-0 against Sunderland on Saturday (26/9/15).

Juan Mata celebrates after making it 3-0 against Sunderland on Saturday (26/9/15).

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By Matthew Murray

24. Law Graduate. Became interested in football at an early age and began supporting Manchester United at around 10 years old, and have been a massive fan ever since. All-time heroes: Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Beckham, Paul Scholes.

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