Saturday saw Manchester United held to their third 0-0 draw at home in the Premier League this season, as West Brom became the eighth team to leave Old Trafford with a point to further damage the Red Devils’ top four hopes.
Jose Mourinho’s side have only managed to win 40% of their home games in the top flight this season and wins for Spurs and Liverpool on Saturday mean that the challenge of securing a top four spot just got a whole lot tougher.
Yes, Chelsea lost at home to Crystal Palace. That was a shock result and one that many will say was worse – on paper at least – than United’s home draw with the Baggies. But the difference is that the Blues had a 10-point cushion at the top of the table. They can afford to drop a few points and still lift the title. United can’t if they want to beat rivals to a Champions League spot.
Here are three reasons Manchester United were this weekend’s biggest losers:
1. Widening gap to top four
The biggest problem for United this weekend is that the gap to the top four widened by a point, following Liverpool’s Merseyside Derby win over Everton earlier in the day. Mourinho’s side were four points off Liverpool with two games in hand heading into the weekend, but not sit 5 points off Manchester City in 4th, who have only played one game more than United.
2. Easiest fixture of the month?
Man Utd will have played a staggering nine times before the end of April, with an average of a game every three days in the Premier League and Europa League leaving Mourinho with the most frantic period of his season. He will have to rotate his squad more than ever over the next four weeks but he’d had the entire international break to plan a victory over West Brom. He couldn’t do that and will now only have a couple of days to spend on preparations for each upcoming game in April.
3. Short rest time
As mentioned above, United’s hectic schedule means Mourinho will need to manage his players extremely well if they’re to emerge out of this month in good shape. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be available again for Tuesday’s home clash with Everton after serving his suspension but the 0-0 draw to the Baggies on Saturday meant the United boss had to leave his best players on the pitch for 90 minutes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the only played substituted but still had to get through 75 minutes first. The fact that Mourinho was unable to bring players off to save them for Tuesday might cost them when Everton come to town tomorrow evening.