Don't write off Manchester United's top-four hopes
Background Image Via: Andre Zahn/Wikimedia Commons.
He's only two games into his tenure, but it's fair to say that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought the feel-good factor back to Manchester United.
The Baby Faced Assassin has already added six points to the Red Devils' Premier League tally and suddenly, all hope is not lost. With both Chelsea and Arsenal dropping points recently, the race to finish in the top four seems very much alive.
Just a week ago, the gap to The Gunners had reached double figures, but with a little bit of luck and some positivity around the place, United can certainly smell blood. Earlier on in the campaign, it looked as though the Old Trafford club would do well to remain in the top six thus playing in the Europa League next term. My how quickly things can change...
You tend to forget that amidst all the drama, this is an extremely capable squad that Solskjaer has at his disposal. It starts with World Cup winner Paul Pogba, who is arguably the best midfielder in the country on his day. The Frenchman now looks hungry and ready to lay his body on the line. He's been the biggest beneficiary in the early goings of the new regime.
Marcus Rashford is looking lively, Nemanja Matic is playing like a man reborn, Victor Lindelof is playing with newfound freedom, while Luke Shaw is being allowed to bomb forward more than ever before. These players have been craving to perform with the shackles off, the Red Devils are already reaping the rewards.
If you take a glance at the fixture list, you'll notice that the powers that be have been relatively kind to United. From now until deep into February, the Red Devils only play one fellow top six side (Spurs away). The majority of their fixtures are against bottom-half clubs, thus, these matches seem to be extremely winnable (on paper at least). This is the time for Solskjaer to look to push on and take full advantage of the happy camp that he is running at the moment.
You look at the sides that they're going toe-to-toe with and only one space seems to be up for grabs. Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City will likely be the first three, leaving United, Chelsea and Arsenal battling for the all-important fourth spot. Make no mistake about it, Solskjaer's side are certainly the outside bet, but his team are on an upward trajectory, while the two London clubs have seemingly remained stagnant.
With a little slice of luck, their star players keeping themselves off the treatment table and the dressing room remaining a positive atmosphere, United have every chance at pulling off something that looked impossible just a fortnight ago. Credit to Solskjaer, he's only been in the job for about a week and the overall outlook at the Theatre of Dreams is already looking much better. It just goes to show how bad things were under the self-proclaimed Special One, as third season syndrome has struck him hard yet again... Anyway, onwards and upwards, eh Reds?