By Tom Wardman
This season’s Premier League title race is shaping up to be one of the most exciting campaigns in the history of the competition with six clubs all having a realistic chance of lifting the trophy at the end of this season.
A couple of months ago Manchester United would not have been one of those teams. Jose Mourinho’s side made a slow start in the Premier League and were not only losing touch with the leaders in the table, but a top four finish prospect was becoming increasingly bleak with each week.
However, United have put a run together of six wins in their last seven games in the league and have not been beaten since October 23 when Chelsea hammered them 4-0.
Although the 1-1 draw with Liverpool means United trail Chelsea by 12 points, there are 17 games left in the campaign – which means there are still 51 points to play for. The way United battled against their Merseyside rivals was also very encouraging for Mourinho, who is making real good progress since he took over from Louis van Gaal last summer.
Simon Mignolet made a string of saves in the first half last Sunday to keep the Reds out, while in the second half, United were on the front foot throughout and fully deserved their equaliser when Zlatan Ibrahimovic popped up with another huge goal for his side.
Ibrahimovic is proving to be one of the best signings in European football from the summer transfer window. The former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker has scored 19 goals since he was picked up on a free transfer from PSG.
Manchester United are now 20/1 in the Premier League betting at the time of writing. Those odds will obviously shorten if the Reds continue to pick up positive results over the next few weeks. Leaders Chelsea are odds-on at 8-13.
However, they could be without their leading talisman Diego Costa unless he patches up his differences with manager Antonio Conte, while Liverpool and Tottenham are both available at 6-1 and 13-2 respectively.
The Reds have a tough trip to Stoke to prepare for now where they will face former player Mark Hughes who is now in charge of the Potters. The Britannia Stadium is never an easy place to go, and it will be a real test for Mourinho’s men.
United then have a break from the league as they travel up to Hull for the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final where they have a 2-0 advantage following their first game. Although the Reds have a lead going into their away trip, Mourinho is unlikely to take any chances by resting players in that tie. The EFL Cup is the first major trophy given out in the season and as he proved at Chelsea where he won the competition three times, it is a tournament he takes very seriously.
With a whole host of big players such Antoine Griezmann and Toni Kroos being linked with the club and a run of positive on the pitch, the future is starting to look bright again at Manchester United.