This week saw Manchester United return to the top of the Premier League for the first time since 2013. The Red Devils defeated Burnley 1-0 to achieve the feat, that they haven’t done since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson left the club.
However, question marks have been raised ahead of their trip to Anfield this weekend, can they really challenge for the title? Although league position does answer yes, does their style of football say champions?
The record 20 time league winners have been revitalised since the arrival of Bruno Fernandez in January last year. The Portuguese International was key for them in the final half of last season, helping them claim third and a spot in the Champions League.
Since then, the playmaker has carried on his impressive form, making the United attacking line up one of the deadliest in the league. The question marks are raised when asked, ‘what happens if Bruno gets injured?’ Well, step forward Paul Pogba.
The French midfielder has come under fire during his time at Old Trafford, but during the last few months has shown glimpses of the creative genius that won the World Cup. Stepping forward into a more attacking role has really suited the record transfer, his appetite and desire to win the ball has been a huge factor in United’s rise to the top of the pile.
Another player excelling this season is Scott McTominay. The Scottish defensive midfielder has matured since he first burst onto the scene as part of the Jose Mourinho era. Adding flair and a wide range of passing to his already determined style of play has been key. The relationship he has with fellow midfielder Fred has stepped up both players level, possibly to a Premier League winner midfield.
However, there had to be a but coming in this article at some point and as usual, it comes in the form of the defence. Harry Maguire receives a lot of stick, mainly due to the price the club paid for him, but the captain has been rather inspiring at times. At other points he’s looked tired and out of ideas.
Although, a shining light has been his partnership with Eric Bailey. The Ivorian has stepped up since the injury to Victor Lindelof, which will make it tough for the Swedish defender to re-enter the fold when he returns.
The left hand side, consisting of Luke Shaw and Alex Telles has been solid but the major problem is the right back. Want Bissaka has struggled to keep consistent form, which is probably due to the lack of cover in that position. If United want to be truly sure of a title-winning defence, they need a replacement right back in case of injury.
There are worse problems to have than having to pick between David De Gea and Dean Henderson in goal. Both have looked strong this season but the frustration of a young keeper like Henderson wanting game time might become a headache for Solskjaer as we enter the transfer window.
Nevertheless, it’s always difficult to predict how a team will perform on current form. At the start of the season, people we tipping Everton and Southampton to make a run for the title due to their fantastic start to the season. Man United have strung a decent run of form together, the question becomes can this side continue this form for the rest of the season?
I believe it will be a difficult task, results have favoured United and with a run of hard games coming up, starting Sunday, the real test now begins. With the FA Cup and Europa League adding even more games for this side to play, they may struggle with fitness. Although no side has shown a outstanding playing style that overshadows the rest of the league like Liverpool did last season, United find themselves in the perfect position to gain title number 21.
May is a long time away, but this could be the end of the long awaited Premier League title return to Old Trafford.