Are Manchester United the dark horses in the Premier League title?

Erik ten Hag’s arrival at Manchester United has changed their fortunes, and the Dutch manager is on course for a historic quadruple after winning the Carabao Cup.

It has been a great season for Manchester United so far. It looks like their struggle days are over, and the return of the European giants is on the cards. Ever since the arrival of Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils have undergone quite a few changes.

Manchester United now look like an outfit that can win on any given day, against any opposition. The new signings have done wonders, while a few of their existing players have returned to their best.

Casemiro, Lisandro Martínez, and Christian Eriksen’s arrival at the club have bolstered their ranks. They look like a better unit with the three involved. Eriksen is currently out injured. But while he was on the pitch, he surely made his presence felt.

Antony looks like the only one who has not had the sort of impact everyone expected from the big-money signing. However, he has proven his mettle every now and then. And, the Brazilian international is expected to get better with time.

Erik ten Hag should be reasonably happy with Manchester United’s progress so far. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Marcus Rashford has revived himself under ten Hag. The English international has been on fire of late. He has been their match winner post the FIFA World Cup 2022. And it seems like the Dutchman is slowly but surely transforming Manchester United.

Despite their ongoing heroics, there are a few areas where they will look for reinforcements. But, the process to revive the sleeping giant is underway. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at their ongoing situation and tries to analyse if they can challenge for the Premier League title.

The ongoing situation at Manchester United

Talks of a takeover at Manchester United have been in the news for a while. Few of the richest men from across the globe are pushing to buy one of the biggest clubs in world football. While there has been a lot of talk in the media, the team have remained focused on their objective on the field.

It has been a great season for Manchester United. They have enjoyed a decent run in all four competitions. Erik ten Hag’s team have already won one silverware and are still in the hunt for a possible quadruple.

Carabao Cup: Manchester United ended their six-year trophy drought with a win over Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final. The resurgent Red Devils smashed the Magpies 2-0 to win the silverware. They were super clinical in the tournament as they won all six of their matches by two or more goals.

Europa League: Manchester United have just knocked out Barcelona over two legs to progress to the Round of 16 of the tournament. They started off their Europa League campaign with a loss but managed to bounce back and win all five remaining group-stage games.

The Red Devils could not manage to finish above Real Sociedad in the group and were forced into the Knockout Playoff round, where they squared up against Barcelona. They managed to come out on top 4-3 on aggregate.

Erik ten Hag’s men will square up against Real Betis in the Round of 16. They have a decent chance of progressing to the next round. And, given their ongoing form, we cannot count them out of the race to win the tournament.

FA Cup: Luck has favoured the team in red in the FA Cup, as they have played all their games at home in the ongoing campaign so far. Manchester United squared up against West Ham United in the Round of 16. They came out on top thanks to late goals by Alejandro Garnacho and Fred.

They will head into the quarter-finals of the competition on the back of a 3-1 win over West Ham. And ten Hag’s team will face Fulham in the quarter-finals, a team they got the better of back in November. In addition, it will be another home game for Manchester United.

The Red Devils have a good chance of winning the FA Cup, with Manchester City being the only top Premier League club left. However, if they do square up against their neighbours, it won’t be easy to get past them.

Premier League: Manchester United are currently third in the English top flight. They have managed to accumulate 49 points out of their 24 matches. And, they are currently 11 points behind league leaders Arsenal with a game in hand.

It looks like a very difficult task for the team in red to go on and win the title from here. But they do have a few reasons to believe they can. While the objective ahead of the season was to finish in the top four, they do have an outside chance to clinch the Premier League title after ages.

The Premier League title race

Will similar scenes unfurl at Old Trafford anytime soon? (Photo by Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images)

Can Manchester United win the Premier League title? This is probably the most sought-after question at this point in time for their supporters. They are eleven points behind league leaders Arsenal but still have the belief that things can go in their favour.

If Manchester United win the match in hand, the lead will be reduced to eight points. However, the fact that they will not be facing either of the two teams in front of them (Arsenal and Manchester City) in the points table in the remaining fixtures will hurt them.

Direct match-ups against the two could have given them a better opportunity. But, they still have a chance of making a case for themselves because of the fixtures that remain. The toughest fixtures left for the Red Devils are road trips to Liverpool, Newcastle United, and Tottenham. They also have a home game against Chelsea.

Apart from these, their fixtures are relatively easy, and Manchester United are expected to have a decent run in the league. Finishing the season strongly won’t give them a chance to win the league. They will have to rely on the Gunners and Manchester City dropping points.

A few weeks back, one would have said that it is next to impossible for them to win. But of late, the two top contenders have slipped on occasion. Their remaining fixtures are a touch more complicated, and chances are that they will drop points. And, that is when Manchester United can capitalise.

Arsenal are currently top, but they have lost to Manchester City and Everton in the recent past. On top of that, they have dropped points against Brentford as well. In the initial stages of the league, the Gunners looked like a well-oiled team that was consistent and looked unbeatable. But, of late that has changed.

They will square up against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle United in the upcoming weeks. These will be difficult fixtures where they could end up dropping points. Mikel Arteta’s team also have Europa League fixtures to worry about. And, focusing on both competitions together could prove difficult for the relatively young squad that they have.

Meanwhile, Manchester City have not been the same force they were last season. They have dropped points against oppositions one would not have predicted. And, things are going to get complicated from here, with Champions League football still on the cards.

Pep Guardiola’s team will face Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea in the league in their remaining games. It is going to be difficult but their overall fixtures look easier than that of the Gunners. However, their direct clash against Arsenal could define the Premier League title race.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will have to hope that things go in their favour for them to have a shot a the title. And a Manchester City win over Arsenal can help them immensely. While anything can happen in the world of football, this still looks like a far-fetched dream.

The Priority

Manchester United are still alive in three competitions and have already won one. They are in a great situation at this point in time. And finishing the season with another trophy will be considered a huge success, given where and how they started off.

Erik ten Hag has done a great job so far and is expected to finish on high. If in case, they do see an opening to push for the Premier League title, they will have to decide what is the priority. Closing down an eleven-point lead at the top and then winning the title with 14 matches left is not something that happens every day. And, to be honest, it is a very unlikely scenario.

Their main focus will be on the Europa League, given the fact that they have a better chance of winning it. In simple terms, winning the Europa League is in their hands, and they do not have to rely on other results for that to happen.

Depending on other results to win a title will obviously take a back seat when they already have a straightforward chance to win a tournament. The Red Devils are also fighting for the FA Cup. Erik ten Hag is expected to push for the remaining two titles and focus on finishing in the top four for obvious reasons.

However, if things do actually go wrong for them in both the cup competitions and teams above them drop points, they might have an outside chance. As a result, they are dark horses in a way. And considering where they were six months ago after the 4-0 defeat to Brentford, Manchester United have indeed come a long way.

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