We're about to go on a title run, stop with the negativity

Lynty

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Liverpool's dip in form is certainly allowing us to dream. But City are looking dangerous again. I feel we will be thereabouts but lack a proper RB and CB to mount a firm challenge this season. Martial needs to find some consistency too.
A proper RB? So much disrespect on AWB, who is one of best right backs in the league.

Trent has been a shadow of his last season form. Chelsea are starting James and Spurs Doherty. Everton, Holgate or Coleman. Villa, Cash.

Who Scored have AWB outperforming all of them but Cancelo, who has a smaller sample size. Who is this 'proper RB' you speak of?

The problem isn't AWB, the problem is we don't have a real RW to offer danger on that side, and for some bizarre reason, fans are placing the blame on our RB.
 
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Sylar

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A proper RB? So much disrespect on AWB, who is one of best right backs in the league.

Trent has been a shadow of his last season form. Chelsea are starting James and Spurs Doherty. Everton, Holgate or Coleman. Villa, Cash.

Who Scored have AWB outperforming all of them but Cancelo, who has a smaller sample size. Who is this 'proper RB' you speak of?

The problem isn't AWB, the problem is we don't have a real RW to offer danger on that side, and for some bizarre reason, fans are placing the blame on our RB.
Imagine Diallo surprises us all...
 

TMDaines

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So you expect Liverpool to get at least 53 out of remaining 62 points? Meaning they can either lose 3 games or draw 4 and have to win minimum 17 out of remaining 21. So basically you expect them to be one of the best PL teams ever for the remainder of season.
Put it this way, if United shook on 84 points right now, I wouldn’t expect us to end up champions. I think that would be more likely good enough for second though

I think we will do well to reach 75 even. We’re over performing quite a bit on expected points still. You only have to look at Chelsea who are conceding fewer chances than us while creating more and whose variance is swinging the other way to get an idea of how thin the margins are. United actually need to improve to have any really hope of contending at the end of the season.

538 have us getting 72 points on average this season. Using Understat to work out out average expected points per game and applying that to the season, we would have less than 65.

I’ve got that nervous excitement again, but we do need to build from here. Tightening that defence again to where it has been in previous seasons would be massive.
 

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If we win our next two games, we go 6 clear of Liverpool.

City will no doubt overtake them, so not 6 points clear of top but what an incredible statement.....
 

Lynty

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Imagine Diallo surprises us all...
Would be awesome.

We can still look forward to Martial hitting his annual two month period of world class form, before returning to his usual nonchalance. That'll be a few points in the bag.
 

Jonno

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Still think Liverpool, and probably City again now too, will post a total above 85 that I struggle to see United matching. I expect those two sides to find some consistency and focus now there is a real title race.
For Liverpool to get more than 85, call it 86... they'd need to get a further 53 points from 21 games.

An example of how they'd need to perform to get to 86 points:
16 wins, 5 draws and 0 defeats.
17 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats

It's a tall order. Lets say they get 4 points from their next 2 games (That's being quite generous), they'll have amassed 37 points in 19 games. That means they'll be on course for 72 points.

I reckon the league winner gets 80(ish)

I see no reason why we can't match Liverpool, it's City I worry about, they look every inch as good as us at the moment. Liverpool look barely 4th best right now - similar consistency to Spurs.
 

bsCallout

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Would be awesome.

We can still look forward to Martial hitting his annual two month period of world class form, before returning to his usual nonchalance. That'll be a few points in the bag.
Nonchalant isnt a fair description of Martial over the past 9 months. Whilst he is going through a goal drought, his effort is clear to see and his workrate and link up has been very good.
 

Sylar

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Reading bits of this thread, I can see, like with most circumstances,

its easier to doubt/dismiss and not be let down if we finish 2nd or 3rd vs getting excited and having a possible blip which results in no title in the end.

I think the last 7 years is a good reason for that.
 

Lynty

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Nonchalant isnt a fair description of Martial over the past 9 months. Whilst he is going through a goal drought, his effort is clear to see and his workrate and link up has been very good.
Fair point.

Well we can look forward to his annual spurt of goals.
 

Siorac

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Put it this way, if United shook on 84 points right now, I wouldn’t expect us to end up champions. I think that would be more likely good enough for second though

I think we will do well to reach 75 even. We’re over performing quite a bit on expected points still. You only have to look at Chelsea who are conceding fewer chances than us while creating more and whose variance is swinging the other way to get an idea of how thin the margins are. United actually need to improve to have any really hope of contending at the end of the season.

538 have us getting 72 points on average this season. Using Understat to work out out average expected points per game and applying that to the season, we would have less than 65.

I’ve got that nervous excitement again, but we do need to build from here. Tightening that defence again to where it has been in previous seasons would be massive.
Yeah, exactly why I don't think we have any chance for the title. The margins have been razor-thin for us all season - our only comfortable win was Leeds. With a little bad luck/couple of injuries, we could easily go on a 5-6 game winless run at any point, just as we're on a great run of results now. City and Liverpool still have much better foundations.

My expectations haven't changed: get at least 75 points while playing decent football. We're on track for both of those things. The title is a fantasy.
 

Sarni

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We're talking about a side that got 97 and 99 points in the last two seasons. While a sudden explosion of excellent for is by no means guaranteed, winning 17 out of 21 certainly isn't unfeasible for them either.
Well yes, you would be expecting them to repeat that form for the second half of season but without their best defender. You are looking at them turning their season around immediately if they are about to do that. They’ve dropped nearly as many points in their last 3 games as you are allowing them to drop for the rest of season.
 

Harry Harries

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A proper RB? So much disrespect on AWB, who is one of best right backs in the league.

Trent has been a shadow of his last season form. Chelsea are starting James and Spurs Doherty. Everton, Holgate or Coleman. Villa, Cash.

Who Scored have AWB outperforming all of them but Cancelo, who has a smaller sample size. Who is this 'proper RB' you speak of?

The problem isn't AWB, the problem is we don't have a real RW to offer danger on that side, and for some bizarre reason, fans are placing the blame on our RB.
Did you even bother to research these numbers or were you hoping they'd be as you said? Because Reece James, Holgate and Matty Cash all have higher ratings that Wan-Bissaka this season on WhoScored. Not only are your numbers off, but you're assessment of Wan-Bissaka is completely wrong. It's been obvious to every man and his dog that Wan-Bissaka has struggled badly at times this season, RB Leipzig being a seriously low point. A couple of months ago Ole came out and said that fullbacks at Manchester United are expected to defend as well as attack (not very subtle), a few weeks later rumours abound that we're looking at Trippier and Max Aarons. The problem is that not only does he struggle with building meaningful attacks (great cross against Villa notwithstanding) due to his dodgy technique (Wolves let him have all the time and space in the world intentionally on the right-side), he's also being targeted defensively now too. It happened against RBL and it cost us a place in the CL and it happened against Leeds (he lost 4/7 aerial duels whereas Luke Shaw only had 1 aerial duel all game - they were aiming for Wan-Bissaka). His tackling numbers are down (from last season), as are his number of interceptions. This is in part likely due to us attacking more, but we're still incredibly leaky at the back, with only 6 teams conceding more goals than us this season.

He's got his qualities as we saw last season, but he's also got problems which are causing us to be weak going forward and exposed defensively from the right. A new, stable RW might help him get more comfortable and so too might a bit of competition for his place (it's worked for Shaw), but his performances have faltered this season.
 

Suv666

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If we defeat Burnley and Lpool I'll start to dream.
City demolishing Chelsea was a bit concerning though.
 

Siorac

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Well yes, you would be expecting them to repeat that form for the second half of season but without their best defender. You are looking at them turning their season around immediately if they are about to do that. They’ve dropped nearly as many points in their last 3 games as you are allowing them to drop for the rest of season.
By that logic, we would have won feck all in 98/99. We dropped 25 points in the first half of the season - and then only 10 points in the second half. In December 1998, we had a five-game run of one win, three draws, one defeat: in other words, in five games we dropped nearly as many points as we did for the rest of the season.

Admittedly, we didn't have any major injuries to key players. But still, very good teams can go on brilliant runs. It should be obvious. It doesn't mean they necessarily will but counting them out at this stage is foolish.
 

justsomebloke

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For Liverpool to get more than 85, call it 86... they'd need to get a further 53 points from 21 games.

An example of how they'd need to perform to get to 86 points:
16 wins, 5 draws and 0 defeats.
17 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats

It's a tall order. Lets say they get 4 points from their next 2 games (That's being quite generous), they'll have amassed 37 points in 19 games. That means they'll be on course for 72 points.

I reckon the league winner gets 80(ish)

I see no reason why we can't match Liverpool, it's City I worry about, they look every inch as good as us at the moment. Liverpool look barely 4th best right now - similar consistency to Spurs.
I think there's a lot to point in the direction of the title being won with 80-85 points this year.

As pointed out earlier, Liverpool is from now on going to have to get points at a rate not much lower than last season, if they are to reach 85 (nearly 2.5 per game, against 2.6 last season). They need 2.2 to reach 80. This is considerably less than what they achieved last year, but also considerably better than where they've been so far this season (1.9).

City will need approximately 2.4 for 85 points, which is significantly higher than they had last season (2.1). So far this year, they're at 1.9. Even to get to 80, they'll need to do better than last season (2.2).

Translated to results, this means that to get 85, Liverpool can afford to drop another 11 points in their remaining 21 games - ie, f.e. 1 loss and 4 draws. For 80, they can drop another 16 points - f.e. 2 losses and 5 draws. City can afford to drop 13 and 18 points respectively, in 23 games.

United need to win 2.36 points per game for the rest of the season, to get to 85, and 2.13 to get to 80. We're currently at 2.1. We had 2.29 last season after Bruno's arrival.

Tottenham has no realistic chance to reach 85 - they'd need to perform basically like Liverpool last season to do that (2.55 pts per game). To reach 80, they need to get 2.32 pts per game, which is way above their level so far this year (1.8). They're effectively out of the title race.

Even more so Chelsea, which would require an otherworldly 2.8 pts per game to reach 85, and a Liverpool-last-season level 2.57 to reach 80.


So, summing up:

- It will be really hard for any team to reach 85 points this season, and doing so will require a much improved performance than shown so far, by any team. Liverpool will have to be as good as they were last season. City almost as good as they were the year before. And we would need to be a little better than we were last season after Bruno's arrival.

- Even 80 will require some improvement by Liverpool and City, while we are more or less at that level so far.

- Spurs and Chelsea are out of the race.

There is one afterthought I can't quite resist: Our catastrophic first three games, and how that impacts on the record. IF we're prepared to assume that was mainly about the lack of pre-season and take those games out of the equation for the purpose of assessing our level so far, then we're averaging roughly 2.3 points per game - which is the approximate level we need to be at for the rest of the season to reach 85 points.

Must admit I like our chances better after looking at the numbers than I did before doing so!
 
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Lynty

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Did you even bother to research these numbers or were you hoping they'd be as you said? Because Reece James..
Nope, AWB has marginally higher rating

Sample size of 7 games

Matty Cash
Yes he's rated higher on Whoscored. My mistake because I actually knew that they have in in their team of the season so far. I did mean to include Justin from Leicester.

Not only are your numbers off, but you're assessment of Wan-Bissaka is completely wrong. It's been obvious to every man and his dog that Wan-Bissaka has struggled badly at times this season
I disagree. I know stats don't mean everything - but in this instance, its the closest we can get to an objective opinion. With that in mind, out of the starting rightbacks in the top 8 teams, AWB has a higher rating than Trent, Justin, Doherty, Walker-Peters, Coleman and James. With only Cash and Cancelo scoring marginally higher.

Yes he clearly has areas to work on but your being overly harsh on a player that you watch every week, whilst romanticizing others.

My point stands that we have one of the best rightbacks in the league and I have no idea who this "Proper RB" would be.
 

Bilbo

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I think there's a lot to point in the direction of the title being won with 80-85 points this year.

As pointed out earlier, Liverpool is from now on going to have to get points at a rate not much lower than last season, if they are to reach 85 (nearly 2.5 per game, against 2.6 last season). They need 2.2 to reach 80. This is considerably less than what they achieved last year, but also considerably better than where they've been so far this season (1.9).

City will need approximately 2.4 for 85 points, which is significantly higher than they had last season (2.1). So far this year, they're at 1.9. Even to get to 80, they'll need to do better than last season (2.2).

Translated to results, this means that to get 85, Liverpool can afford to drop another 11 points in their remaining 21 games - ie, f.e. 1 loss and 4 draws. For 80, they can drop another 16 points - f.e. 2 losses and 5 draws. City can afford to drop 13 and 18 points respectively, in 23 games.

United need to win 2.36 points per game for the rest of the season, to get to 85, and 2.13 to get to 80. We're currently at 2.1. We had 2.29 last season after Bruno's arrival.

Tottenham has no realistic chance to reach 85 - they'd need to perform basically like Liverpool last season to do that (2.55 pts per game). To reach 80, they need to get 2.32 pts per game, which is way above their level so far this year (1.7). They're effectively out of the title race.

Even more so Chelsea, which would require an otherworldly 2.8 pts per game to reach 85, and a Liverpool-last-season level 2.57 to reach 80.


So, summing up:

- It will be really hard for any team to reach 85 points this season, and doing so will require a much improved performance than shown so far, by any team. Liverpool will have to be as good as they were last season. City almost as good as they were the year before. And we would need to be a little better than we were last season after Bruno's arrival.

- Even 80 will require some improvement by Liverpool and City, while we are more or less at that level so far.

- Spurs and Chelsea are out of the race.

There is one afterthought I can't quite resist: Our catastrophic first three games, and how that impacts on the record. IF we're prepared to assume that was mainly about the lack of pre-season and take those games out of the equation for the purpose of assessing our level so far, then we're averaging roughly 2.3 points per game - which is the approximate level we need to be at for the rest of the season to reach 85 points.

Must admit I like our chances better after looking at the numbers than I did before doing so!
There's no doubt that we are very much in this title race. People pointing to how close some of our games have been as a negative are missing the point that those games are history and those points already accumulated. They will not have any bearing on future form. I personally believe that any team that reaches 80 points this season will win the title.

Crucial factors will be injuries (of course), but also for me how far each of the contenders go in their respective cup competitions. We've unfortunately added a potential 2 games to our schedule with the Europa League round of 32, and as much as people say that we should dump a cup competition its never going to happen, and we are very unlikely to face an opponent so weak that we can make wholesale changes. City & Liverpool should both get through their CL opponents this round.
 

Random Task

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Put it this way, if United shook on 84 points right now, I wouldn’t expect us to end up champions. I think that would be more likely good enough for second though
Given the openness of the league this season and the inconsistency shown by all the top sides, I would be genuinely shocked if 85 points did not land us the title.
 

lysglimt

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If we beat Burnley - we can go to the Liverpool-game with no pressure. Worst case scenario we lose and are level with Liverpool after 18 matches. There isn't a single United-fan who wouldn't have taken that after 3 matches
 

Siorac

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If we beat Burnley - we can go to the Liverpool-game with no pressure. Worst case scenario we lose and are level with Liverpool after 18 matches. There isn't a single United-fan who wouldn't have taken that after 3 matches
This is very true. I'd have laughed at anyone who predicted we would be level with Liverpool at the halfway stage (well, almost halfway).
People pointing to how close some of our games have been as a negative are missing the point that those games are history and those points already accumulated. They will not have any bearing on future form.
The point is that with margins this thin, very little separates a five-game winning run and a five-game winless run. We almost never have an easy, confident win and if that holds, we're likely to drop plenty more points. Because a team winning every single close game is an anomaly, it's unsustainable.
 

Harry Harries

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Nope, AWB has marginally higher rating



Sample size of 7 games



Yes he's rated higher on Whoscored. My mistake because I actually knew that they have in in their team of the season so far. I did mean to include Justin from Leicester.



I disagree. I know stats don't mean everything - but in this instance, its the closest we can get to an objective opinion. With that in mind, out of the starting rightbacks in the top 8 teams, AWB has a higher rating than Trent, Justin, Doherty, Walker-Peters, Coleman and James. With only Cash and Cancelo scoring marginally higher.

Yes he clearly has areas to work on but your being overly harsh on a player that you watch every week, whilst romanticizing others.

My point stands that we have one of the best rightbacks in the league and I have no idea who this "Proper RB" would be.
Am I going insane?! He doesn't have a higher rating than Reece James!!! Reece James averages 7.06 in the PL and 7.01 in the CL, Wan-Bissaka averages 7.00. I'm assuming you're accidentally including Reece James international games. So 7 games is too small a sample size to judge Holgate, but it's fine for Coleman who's also only played 7 games?! Walker-Peters also has a higher average rating than AWB across all competitions. Kyle Walker also has a higher average rating. I'm not even romanticising other players, I just have a different interpretation of what I want and expect to see from a fullback playing for Utd than you do.
 
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If we beat Burnley - we can go to the Liverpool-game with no pressure. Worst case scenario we lose and are level with Liverpool after 18 matches. There isn't a single United-fan who wouldn't have taken that after 3 matches
We're playing well right now and confidence is through the roof, but I can't escape the feeling that losing a potential title-decider against our biggest rivals would be devastating to this side. They've proven themselves fragile on numerous occasions over the years, so I don't entirely trust Ole when he says his side now possess that winning mentality required to start challenging for trophies. I could be wrong, of course. I hope I'm wrong.

Either way, I'd prefer not to risk it. Better Ole is pragmatic in his approach to the game, sit deep and hit them on the counter. It's what this side does best anyway. Also, I hope he's steering the players away from thoughts of winning the title, the last thing they need at this stage of their development (and they are certainly developing well) is the added pressure of a title run to contend with. I recall Fergie point-blank refused to entertain discussions on whether his side could win the title, not until the very latter stages of the competition anyway and even then he was never open about it. I hope Ole is using similar methods with his own players.
 

romufc

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Either way, I'd prefer not to risk it. Better Ole is pragmatic in his approach to the game, sit deep and hit them on the counter. It's what this side does best anyway. Also, I hope he's steering the players away from thoughts of winning the title, the last thing they need at this stage of their development (and they are certainly developing well) is the added pressure of a title run to contend with. I recall Fergie point-blank refused to entertain discussions on whether his side could win the title, not until the very latter stages of the competition anyway and even then he was never open about it. I hope Ole is using similar methods with his own players.
I fully expect Ole to go with Dan James in that game. I know some fans will be upset and cry about it but for me it is the right call. The amount of space and creativity that comes down Liverpool's left, it needs to be dealt with.

The one thing about Ole, he doesn't bow down to fan pressure, he plays the team he feels is right to win the game. We have seen evidence of that by him playing McTominay, Mata, James in games where fans lose their shit.

Like you said, it is very crucial what Ole says to them, we cannot think we are in a title race and blow it before we even get in one.
 

justsomebloke

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This is very true. I'd have laughed at anyone who predicted we would be level with Liverpool at the halfway stage (well, almost halfway).

The point is that with margins this thin, very little separates a five-game winning run and a five-game winless run. We almost never have an easy, confident win and if that holds, we're likely to drop plenty more points. Because a team winning every single close game is an anomaly, it's unsustainable.
Very good teams can at least win the great majority of their close games - Liverpool were 14-3-1 in games with a less than 2 goal differential last season. City were 10-2-2 in such games the year before.

A not so fun fact: Last season we won only 3 close games all season. And they were all pre-Bruno. Though we went unbeaten from February onwards, we either won by at least 2 goals, or drew. This year, we've already won six (and lost only 1, with 3 draws). That's a key improvement right there.
 

Santoryo

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I think there's a lot to point in the direction of the title being won with 80-85 points this year.

As pointed out earlier, Liverpool is from now on going to have to get points at a rate not much lower than last season, if they are to reach 85 (nearly 2.5 per game, against 2.6 last season). They need 2.2 to reach 80. This is considerably less than what they achieved last year, but also considerably better than where they've been so far this season (1.9).

City will need approximately 2.4 for 85 points, which is significantly higher than they had last season (2.1). So far this year, they're at 1.9. Even to get to 80, they'll need to do better than last season (2.2).

Translated to results, this means that to get 85, Liverpool can afford to drop another 11 points in their remaining 21 games - ie, f.e. 1 loss and 4 draws. For 80, they can drop another 16 points - f.e. 2 losses and 5 draws. City can afford to drop 13 and 18 points respectively, in 23 games.

United need to win 2.36 points per game for the rest of the season, to get to 85, and 2.13 to get to 80. We're currently at 2.1. We had 2.29 last season after Bruno's arrival.

Tottenham has no realistic chance to reach 85 - they'd need to perform basically like Liverpool last season to do that (2.55 pts per game). To reach 80, they need to get 2.32 pts per game, which is way above their level so far this year (1.8). They're effectively out of the title race.

Even more so Chelsea, which would require an otherworldly 2.8 pts per game to reach 85, and a Liverpool-last-season level 2.57 to reach 80.


So, summing up:

- It will be really hard for any team to reach 85 points this season, and doing so will require a much improved performance than shown so far, by any team. Liverpool will have to be as good as they were last season. City almost as good as they were the year before. And we would need to be a little better than we were last season after Bruno's arrival.

- Even 80 will require some improvement by Liverpool and City, while we are more or less at that level so far.

- Spurs and Chelsea are out of the race.

There is one afterthought I can't quite resist: Our catastrophic first three games, and how that impacts on the record. IF we're prepared to assume that was mainly about the lack of pre-season and take those games out of the equation for the purpose of assessing our level so far, then we're averaging roughly 2.3 points per game - which is the approximate level we need to be at for the rest of the season to reach 85 points.

Must admit I like our chances better after looking at the numbers than I did before doing so!
Great post.
 

Rooney24

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Feels great to be even discussing being in a title race again.

But the pessimist in me thinks we have already played Arsenal, spurs, chelsea and City at home and only took 2 points. And now obviously we have to play them all away. Granted our away record is good but in "normal" times that's a concern to go to all of them in the second half of the season.

That said the optimist in me will be sky high if we beat Burnley and the filth and open up a six point gap on them.
 

rotherham_red

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Put it this way, if United shook on 84 points right now, I wouldn’t expect us to end up champions. I think that would be more likely good enough for second though

I think we will do well to reach 75 even. We’re over performing quite a bit on expected points still. You only have to look at Chelsea who are conceding fewer chances than us while creating more and whose variance is swinging the other way to get an idea of how thin the margins are. United actually need to improve to have any really hope of contending at the end of the season.

538 have us getting 72 points on average this season. Using Understat to work out out average expected points per game and applying that to the season, we would have less than 65.

I’ve got that nervous excitement again, but we do need to build from here. Tightening that defence again to where it has been in previous seasons would be massive.
Isn't this also taking into account the horrendous start we had, which I think can be reasonably argued was an outlier? From my reading, I've seen us actually be ranked 1st across a variety of positive metrics since the Spurs match, and bearing in mind that also includes the shocker against Arsenal and the dull affairs v Chelsea and City, that is a very encouraging picture. We've also had patchy starts in games against West Ham, Southampton et al, but I'd argue that other than the West Ham game, we've more than deserved the win in those games.

If we are to compare ourselves to City and Liverpool, both teams when they won their title(s) had similarly dodgy spells at the outset of their games. I'm not saying we'll win the league, I actually think we'll do very well to cement ourselves in the 3rd spot when the season is done and dusted as there are still several holes in the first team and the squad that need to be filled and our best players (other than Bruno) haven't quite yet matured enough to be at the level of proven performers like Aguero, KDB, Mane, Salah et al. But performances like some of the ones we've had earlier in this run aren't necessarily a bad thing, as long as we can build on them. Which, I do think is happening, tbh.

For instance, City in 2017/18 were nicking results by the odd goal or two while being under the cosh. A last minute Sterling winner at Bournemouth particularly jumps out at me on that front. However, once they build their confidence up, they just went on and on and on.

While Liverpool's last two years in the league have been predicated upon these, what I'll diplomatically call 'fine margin victories'. There were so many games over the last two years where Liverpool looked like they'd be creaking and on the verge of conceding only to get a goal against the run of play which settled them down and got them through the rest of the 90 minutes. The fact that they outperformed their xPTS and xG by a figure of over 15 in both seasons tells me as such.

Which brings me on to a broader point, I think xG, if it is to have any proper basis and grounding in reality, nees to take into account the game states. Looking at individual xG plots from games doesn't really tell you much outside of what happened in the game, to a certain extent.
 

rotherham_red

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This is very true. I'd have laughed at anyone who predicted we would be level with Liverpool at the halfway stage (well, almost halfway).

The point is that with margins this thin, very little separates a five-game winning run and a five-game winless run. We almost never have an easy, confident win and if that holds, we're likely to drop plenty more points. Because a team winning every single close game is an anomaly, it's unsustainable.
But look at it the other way. We're second/joint top with only two players really showing up for us: Bruno and Rashford (to a lesser extent).

Is it beyond the realms of possibility that Martial reverts back to his level of consistency and performance? That Greenwood gets his confidence back after a difficult first few months due to things that happened off the pitch? That Pogba shows up? That Rashford gets even better and more consistent in his performances than he already has been? And that Bruno continues to perform the way he has done for the last 3 years for Sporting and Utd?

I'd argue that all of those are realistic possibility. The following are slightly more optimistic scenarios, but are still things that I think have a slightly less than 50/50 chance of occurring: one of Bailly &/or Axel stepping up to provide the pacey defensive partner for Maguire; Diallo &/or Pellistri coming in and being a live presence on the RW/LW, even if it is as a squad player so that Rashford can finally get a bit of rest for league games; and VdB getting on the pitch towards the end of the season and providing even more of a fillip to us when Bruno might become tired or loses form as a result of his endeavours.

If even just half of these things occur, we'll look a much more daunting proposition to most of the league than we were in the first half of the season.
 

Bilbo

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We're playing well right now and confidence is through the roof, but I can't escape the feeling that losing a potential title-decider against our biggest rivals would be devastating to this side
I'm not sure I'd use a word as strong as devastating, but there's no doubt this team will look back on 3 semi-final losses and a CL exit and have some internal question marks about where we are currently as a team. We need a statement win. The PSG and RBL wins were exactly that but ultimately counted for nothing. Beating City tomorrow or winning the Liverpool game would push us up another level I feel.
 

hungrywing

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For Liverpool to get more than 85, call it 86... they'd need to get a further 53 points from 21 games.

An example of how they'd need to perform to get to 86 points:
16 wins, 5 draws and 0 defeats.
17 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats

It's a tall order. Lets say they get 4 points from their next 2 games (That's being quite generous), they'll have amassed 37 points in 19 games. That means they'll be on course for 72 points.

I reckon the league winner gets 80(ish)

I see no reason why we can't match Liverpool, it's City I worry about, they look every inch as good as us at the moment. Liverpool look barely 4th best right now - similar consistency to Spurs.
The last time the bolded part happened, a United player scored a 93rd(?) minute winner cutting in from the right against Wolves. Just sayin'.

Isn't this also taking into account the horrendous start we had, which I think can be reasonably argued was an outlier? From my reading, I've seen us actually be ranked 1st across a variety of positive metrics since the Spurs match, and bearing in mind that also includes the shocker against Arsenal and the dull affairs v Chelsea and City, that is a very encouraging picture...

Regarding the outlier thing, if Pogba doesn't start against Palace, Spurs and Arsenal, I think we're four points better off, which would be an 88(!) point pace.
 
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Siorac

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Very good teams can at least win the great majority of their close games - Liverpool were 14-3-1 in games with a less than 2 goal differential last season. City were 10-2-2 in such games the year before.

A not so fun fact: Last season we won only 3 close games all season. And they were all pre-Bruno. Though we went unbeaten from February onwards, we either won by at least 2 goals, or drew. This year, we've already won six (and lost only 1, with 3 draws). That's a key improvement right there.
Those are some nice numbers, thanks. I like this a lot. But City's and Liverpool's ratios also show that title winners have a lot of comfortable wins, the majority of them even. To me, we still don't look like title contenders and I expect us to fall away in the coming months because of it.
But look at it the other way. We're second/joint top with only two players really showing up for us: Bruno and Rashford (to a lesser extent).

Is it beyond the realms of possibility that Martial reverts back to his level of consistency and performance? That Greenwood gets his confidence back after a difficult first few months due to things that happened off the pitch? That Pogba shows up? That Rashford gets even better and more consistent in his performances than he already has been? And that Bruno continues to perform the way he has done for the last 3 years for Sporting and Utd?
Sure, these are also possible. I'm a pessimist though and the last 7 years just entrenched that in me.
 

one340

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A proper RB? So much disrespect on AWB, who is one of best right backs in the league.

Trent has been a shadow of his last season form. Chelsea are starting James and Spurs Doherty. Everton, Holgate or Coleman. Villa, Cash.

Who Scored have AWB outperforming all of them but Cancelo, who has a smaller sample size. Who is this 'proper RB' you speak of?

The problem isn't AWB, the problem is we don't have a real RW to offer danger on that side, and for some bizarre reason, fans are placing the blame on our RB.
This all the way. I understand the modern day fullback carries a greater attacking responsibility then say 10-15 years ago. At the end of the day however the winger should carry the heavier burden of attacking on that side and nobody has truly stepped up for the squad to take command of that role.
 

Raven

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Put it this way, if United shook on 84 points right now, I wouldn’t expect us to end up champions. I think that would be more likely good enough for second though

I think we will do well to reach 75 even. We’re over performing quite a bit on expected points still. You only have to look at Chelsea who are conceding fewer chances than us while creating more and whose variance is swinging the other way to get an idea of how thin the margins are. United actually need to improve to have any really hope of contending at the end of the season.

538 have us getting 72 points on average this season. Using Understat to work out out average expected points per game and applying that to the season, we would have less than 65.

I’ve got that nervous excitement again, but we do need to build from here. Tightening that defence again to where it has been in previous seasons would be massive.
Would you not say the reason that we're outperforming our expected points is because we have better players than Chelsea?
 

Withnail

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Put it this way, if United shook on 84 points right now, I wouldn’t expect us to end up champions. I think that would be more likely good enough for second though

I think we will do well to reach 75 even. We’re over performing quite a bit on expected points still. You only have to look at Chelsea who are conceding fewer chances than us while creating more and whose variance is swinging the other way to get an idea of how thin the margins are. United actually need to improve to have any really hope of contending at the end of the season.

538 have us getting 72 points on average this season. Using Understat to work out out average expected points per game and applying that to the season, we would have less than 65.

I’ve got that nervous excitement again, but we do need to build from here. Tightening that defence again to where it has been in previous seasons would be massive.
I think you have to take those XG, XGA, and expected points stats with a pinch of salt, though.

That's including our terrible first few games which we can see now are uncharacteristic of our general level.

If you look at the underlying stats for the past 13 games we are only slightly over-performing and are well worth our position in the league.

During that run, we are also third in the league in XGA. While we need to ensure we don't make many more individual errors, I don't see our defence being the problem it appeared earlier on in the season.
 

Random Task

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I'm not sure I'd use a word as strong as devastating, but there's no doubt this team will look back on 3 semi-final losses and a CL exit and have some internal question marks about where we are currently as a team. We need a statement win. The PSG and RBL wins were exactly that but ultimately counted for nothing. Beating City tomorrow or winning the Liverpool game would push us up another level I feel.
Winning both of those games is a big ask and, if we're being honest, probably a step too far for this side.

I'd take a heavy loss to City if it meant beating Liverpool in what is probably our biggest game since Fergie retired. It's not ideal bowing out at the semi-final stage 4 times in succession, but the league must take priority at this stage. Besides, you can't have your cake and eat it.

Or can you?

I fully expect Ole to go with Dan James in that game. I know some fans will be upset and cry about it but for me it is the right call. The amount of space and creativity that comes down Liverpool's left, it needs to be dealt with.

The one thing about Ole, he doesn't bow down to fan pressure, he plays the team he feels is right to win the game. We have seen evidence of that by him playing McTominay, Mata, James in games where fans lose their shit.

Like you said, it is very crucial what Ole says to them, we cannot think we are in a title race and blow it before we even get in one.
Ole not bowing to fan or media pressure is one his strongest managerial traits, it makes him unpredictable which is always a good thing. I've always liked that about him.

Not sure about starting Dan James even with the reasoning provided. He rarely, if ever, has any impact on games due to his poor technique and limited knowledge of the game. I feel he's best coming off the bench where he can utilize his pace on tired defenders. TAA is having a poor season though, so we should be looking to exploit him as much as possible.
 

Siorac

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I think you have to take those XG, XGA, and expected points stats with a pinch of salt, though.

That's including our terrible first few games which we can see now are uncharacteristic of our general level.
Surely that would mean that without those three games, we'd overperform our expected points even more? We only got three points in our first three games, it's not like we fluked three good results with horrible performances.
 

romufc

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Ole not bowing to fan or media pressure is one his strongest managerial traits, it makes him unpredictable which is always a good thing. I've always liked that about him.

Not sure about starting Dan James even with the reasoning provided. He rarely, if ever, has any impact on games due to his poor technique and limited knowledge of the game. I feel he's best coming off the bench where he can utilize his pace on tired defenders. TAA is having a poor season though, so we should be looking to exploit him as much as possible.
Agreed on the Ole part.

This is it, I know James is technically very poor but we cannot start Rashford or Greenwood on the right because Robertson will abuse the left channel.

Like you said, Trent is poor so exploit that, have Rashford there and Martial up top. I would rather see us defend Mane / Robbo out the game. That pairing is so dangerous, if we do not support AWB, I can see us having big problems in that area. Either that or Scott will have to cover in between RCB and RB. Liverpool get in those spaces really well.