Can anyone realistically catch Manchester United?

Stretford End

Manchester United currently sit comfortable clear by 7 points at the top of the Premier League table but there are still 18 games to play and 54 points up for grabs – any takers?

Manchester City look to be United’s only genuine competition with many suggesting this year’s title race will be between the two Manchester mares. City are 7 points behind – for them to overtake their rivals, United would have to lose twice and draw once while City simultaneously won all their games to keep the chase alive.

I do believe United will lose at least another game or two this season and undoubtedly draw – they’ve haemorrhaged goals so far this season, uncharacteristically, and they’ve had to clinch a lot of points in the final minutes of games.

City, on the other hand, have lost just one game at home this season – to United – and seem to have made the Etihad a fortress of sorts. If they can keep that up and really go the distance in 2013, United are bound to slip up somewhere.

Even with their exceptional strike-force, they’ve ridden their luck as well. I have a sneaking suspicion injuries will play a big part in the title race this year.

Whist on paper Chelsea look to be out of the race, they’ve come back from Japan with a point to prove and, under Rafael Benitez they could ruffle some feathers up at the top. They’re currently 11 points behind with a game in hand. It’s still not impossible for them, but unless they get Falcao in January I think it’s safe to assume they’ll be unable to catch up.

I do fancy them as strong favourites for the cups though – the League Cup’s probably theirs if they want it (with all due respect to the other semi-finalists), I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them wind up in the Europa League final and they’ve still got their FA Cup title to defend. They might end up feeling contented by 3rd place in the league.

I don’t think either Tottenham Hotspur or Arsenal are anywhere near being capable of challenging United this year – Spurs need to box clever in January and much the same can be said for the Gunners. Neither of the North Londoners has the consistency and resolve to credibly challenge for the league this season.

Mathematically it’s still possible, of course, but I can’t see United, City and Chelsea dropping more than 20 points between them.

So United look to be out of sight already – what’s new? Well, January is now upon us – perhaps there is a spanner in the works yet to come.

image: © smemon

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