Manchester United have saved their best results – if not performances – for the Champions League this season and following the 2-0 triumph away to Villarreal on Tuesday, the Red Devils can firmly set their sights on some difficult Premier League fixtures.
Having won Group F, United needn’t worry about the home game against Young Boys on December 8th, but the opposite is true of the upcoming clashes with Chelsea, Arsenal, and Crystal Palace in the meantime.
Since United’s 2-1 victory at West Ham United on September 19th, they have only won once in the league and as a result, they are all but out of the title race already.
The priority now must be to earn a place in the top four, and it may indeed be West Ham who are in the best position to prevent that.
Aside from Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool, all of whom are expected to battle for the title, Manchester United are favourites to take the final Champions League spot but it’s anything but a foregone conclusion as far as the betting sites are concerned.
United are generally priced at 6/5 for a top-four finish, with Arsenal at 3/1, West Ham at 7/2, and Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur at 4/1.
But a bigger question remains: Who will be the manager at Old Trafford for the remainder of the campaign?
Michael Carrick, whose interim tenure got off to the perfect start at Estadio de la Ceramica, is in the frame at 5/1 to keep the job for at least 10 games, but Mauricio Pochettino, who has long been linked with United, is reportedly prepared to leave Paris Saint-Germain and take the reins.
The Argentine is a 6/4 shot in the Next Permanent Manager market, while former Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde comes next at 4/1.
Either way, it is Carrick who could be in the dugout on Sunday for the trip to Stamford Bridge, where United are as big as 5/1 to cause the upset and defeat the leaders.
Chelsea are odds-on at 11/20 to pick up all three points, and the draw can be backed at a cool 3/1.
At a key point in the season and in United’s history, there are plenty of betting opportunities – so much so that it could be a good time to stock up on free bets or other offers and promotions.
The more optimistic United fans among you might even fancy a poke on United to win the Champions League at 16/1.
Cristiano Ronaldo continues to prove that he is the best match-winner in the continent and that could be priceless as the tournament reaches its climax.
The Portuguese international is 7/1 to finish as the competition’s top scorer but it’s a big ask to reel in Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski who has netted nine times in five games, therefore carrying a three-goal advantage over Ronaldo.
There is an even bigger mountain to climb for the 36-year-old in the Premier League Golden Boot race, but Ronaldo (10/1) could close the seven-goal gap on Mohamed Salah (4/5) when the Egyptian departs for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Written by Ben Smith