Home defeats against Everton and Newcastle this week have put David Moyes under intense pressure at Old Trafford, with his Manchester United team looking well out of touch with the Premier League title race.
Should Arsenal overcome Everton at the Emirates today (Sunday) the reigning Premier League champions will find themselves 15 points adrift of Arsene Wenger’s side.
Sitting in ninth place, Moyes’ men look like they could face a struggle to qualify for next season’s Champions League, but is it too early to rule them out of contention?
It's important to note that the transition between Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes was always going to take time, with the former Everton boss looking to follow up the extraordinary success of his predecessors incredible 27-year reign.
With 23 games remaining, United have plenty of time to bridge the gap between them and their title rivals, and Moyes, who was handpicked by Ferguson to succeed him, will fight tooth and nail to clinch the club’s 21st title.
Sitting on 22 points from their opening 15 fixtures, the club could still end the season with a mammoth 92 points, three more than they picked up last season when they finished 11 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City.
Admittedly it’s inconceivable for them to win all of their remaining fixtures, but with Arsenal having only dropped eight points this season, there’s no reason why Moyes’ side can’t produce similar form for the rest of the campaign.
In 1997 United won the title with just 75 points, and with so many of their rivals struggling for consistency this year, the Premier League title could be won with another fairly low points total.
The 2013/14 season has so far been one of the most unpredictable, with leaders Arsenal losing twice in their first 14 games and third-placed Chelsea having been defeated three times in their opening 15 fixtures, including yesterday’s defeat at Stoke.
Further down the table, fourth-placed Manchester City are still considered title contenders despite having recorded four losses this season, only one fewer than Manchester United.
All the time the other so-called top four continue to drop points on a regular basis, Moyes will have faith in his team catching up with the teams above them.
Should United take the Premier League crown they will surely need to pick up points against their rivals, and with home games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham still to come, they’ll be confident of doing so.
Add to that away games against Arsenal and Chelsea and the reigning champions could still pick up another 15 points against title rivals, a figure which would undoubtedly put them back in the race.
With January just around the corner, and United not having to play any of the big clubs until the new year, Moyes will have the opportunity to strengthen his side before having to do battle with Jose Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini and co.
However, following an unsuccessful time in the summer transfer window, the United hierarchy may be reluctant to throw yet more money at the squad, meaning Moyes will have to stick with what he has.
That’s perhaps not a bad thing for Moyes, who, in the shape of Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, possesses copious amounts of title winning experience in his team, the kind of experience that Manchester City’s millions and Wenger’s youthful stars simply cannot compete with.
Add to that the youthful enthusiasm of the likes of Adnan Januzaj, David De Gea and Phil Jones, as well as the big-game mentality of Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic and you have a team that will always challenge for honours.
The winning mentality that was installed at Old Trafford by Sir Alex cannot have been eradicated already, and Moyes' men will be able to draw upon that in their quest to produce one of the great Premier League stories and lift the crown.
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