Manchester United has enjoyed a fruitful start to the season, currently sitting joint top with Manchester City and winning both of their Champions League group fixtures; their only blemish was a 2-2 away draw at Stoke, which is no embarrassment.
Yet Jose Mourinho’s side’s breathless start has been somewhat undermined by fans, media and pundits pointing out how generous their fixture list has been to them.
For the Red Devils are yet to face anyone of any real might – their closest coming in the form of a limp Everton, who were dispatched 4-0.
Soon, though, such critics will get their wish as United face a testing three week spell where they will be play three of the top six and a double-header against Portuguese giants Benfica.
It all begins with an away trip to Anfield – this fixture last year saw Mourinho lambasted for regressive tactics – where United will surely be looking for three points, given Liverpool’s defensive frailties and less than convincing form.
Regardless of how Klopp’s men have been performing, a game at Anfield is rarely easy and Liverpool possess the quality to beat anyone on their day: this is the first true test of United’s mettle and they will have to come through it unscathed to convince doubters.
Four away games in ten days: that is the picture for United after the international break as the Reds travel to Benfica, Huddersfield and Swansea within six days.
It simply does not matter who the opposition is, to travel so much in such a short space of time is draining on even the fittest of teams and United will do well to keep their unbeaten record intact.
United then host Tottenham at Old Trafford; though United’s record against Spurs at home is favourable, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are one of the best teams in the league and will pose serious problems. Again, a win will the goal, but Spurs are no walk-overs.
A home tie against Benfica follows, but the following match will truly reveal United’s true colours: away to Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester City’s 1-0 win at Chelsea pronounced them as serious title contenders and Untied will be seeking the same result come 5th November.
But Antonio Conte’s team will be licking their wounds – welcoming United presents the first real opportunity to prove to the Premier League that they are still genuine contenders following their defeat to City.
The ultimate test of their mettle
This is perhaps one of the most gruelling three weeks Mourinho will have managed and if the Red Devils emerge from the clutter of games still in the hunt, then we can truly label United as title potential.
Written by Michael Jones
Follow Michael on Twitter @jonesmichael_97
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