The study on how the English Premier League season has gone so far for the league’s “Big Six” continue as Manchester United now take the forefront of the discussion.
Liverpool were the topic in the first article while Tottenham Hotspur’s season was dissected in the second, now Jose Mourinho’s men are going to be rated according to how things have gone so far in the campaign.
With this being United’s article, the remaining teams to be graded are Chelsea, Arsenal and Premier League champions Manchester City.
Below are some of the things to ponder on for the Red Devils so far.
Their current standing definitely does not reflect how strong Mourinho’s men are on paper and that they should be considered as one of the contenders for the league title.
As last year’s runners-up much of United’s core remain intact as Daley Blind was the only notable departure after the Dutchman transferred to Ajax during the summer which led to many thinking that they are still a strong squad.
Things started off well as United battled Leicester City at Old Trafford and goals from Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw were enough to see them get three points in a 2-1 victory. That match silenced any issue that United had leading up to the campaign and fans were momentarily settled.
However, things would go south immediately in the next game as they battled Brighton Hove & Albion and a poor defensive showing in the first half saw them allow Brighton to score three goals in the first 45 minutes. The deficit proved to be too much as two United goals were useless and they came away with a surprise loss.
Things went from bad to worse the next match as they hosted Tottenham at Old Trafford in a highly-anticipated match-up.
United looked good in some part early in the game but things went array in the second half as they could not stop Tottenham from gaining the upper-hand. For the second-straight game, they allowed three goals in a half and Spurs were able to come away with a big 3-0 victory to put a dent in United’s season.
Backed into a wall, the Red Devils finally responded when they faced a hapless Burnley squad who only had one point in three matches before the United clash. A Romelu Lukaku brace secured their second win in the season but, more importantly, it stopped their two-game skid before the much-needed international break.
HOW TRANSFERS HAVE FARED
Speaking about United’s transfers alone does not do justice on how tough their summer was. Mourinho knew he had to vastly improve their defence and had targeted big names to anchor their back line.
Unfortunately, there were no signings to come and United were only able to sign three players during the summer, veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant, right-back Diogo Dalot and midfielder Fred. Dalot was the only defender who came in during the summer and it was not enough to improve the team’s defence overall.
Fred has been good so far for the Red Devils as his energy and playing style has been helping United in stretches of the game. He still seems to find difficulty adjusting to the Premier League style so far but he seems like the type of player who will find a home with the squad and will flourish under Mourinho.
Not just with the lack of transfers, Mourinho and United have had issues with some of the current crop of players like Anthony Martial who has failed to find his footing under Mourinho and his future is currently unsure at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford has not blossomed as expected and a suspension means he will miss more games and that is another big blow for the squad moving forward.
With summer being a flop and players failing to shine at the moment, many are hoping for the January transfer window to be fruitful for the Red Devils.
HOW THEY MAY FARE IN THE COMING MATCHES
After the international break, the next match for United is crucial as it is against an overachieving team looking to upset the big squads in the Premier League.
Watford host the Red Devils at Vicarage Road as they hope to maintain their unblemished record. Currently third in the table, the hosts are only behind the league leaders by inferior goal difference but they have been very convincing so far. While United are still favoured in the match-up, Mourinho and his men should not overlook their opponents and try to get maximum points.
After Watford, Wolverhampton Wanderers are next. At the moment, the two teams are right next to each other with Wolves holding 11th place with five points. Before the international break, they won their last two matches and have only lost once so far this season so they appear to be another underdog team who have found a home in the Premier League. United’s defence should be wary of Wolves’ capable midfield.
Next are bottom-dwelling West Ham United. Without a single point at the moment, the Hammers are certainly looking like a team ready to call it quits this early. United should do everything they can to win and win emphatically to help boost the morale within the club.
Finally, a home game against Newcastle United wraps up their next four-game schedule in the Premier League. Similar to West Ham, Newcastle are struggling and this should be a game where United get a comfortable win. Anything else may completely derail their attempts to chase the leaders.
SEASON SO FAR: 2/5