Manchester United will be looking to thrive over Christmas again

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Tis' the season to be jolly...especially if you're a Manchester United fan. The Christmas period is often where the league table truly begins to take shape and, under Sir Alex Ferguson at least, is where the Red Devils crank up the pressure in the race for the Premier League title. 

A six-game winning run has them hot on the heels of leading duo Chelsea and Manchester City, and given the experience that remains within the squad Louis Van Gaal should be confident of closing the gap by the time the New Year rolls around a week on Thursday. 

Past record

David Moyes' miserable spell aside, the table usually makes for rosy reading for United on Christmas day.

In 2012/2013, Ferguson's last season at the club, they won four out of their five games spanning from mid-December until the New Year. The year previously they won five out of seven, with consecutive defeats to Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United the only blemishes on an otherwise flawless record.

Great United teams in particular come to the fore at this time of the season. After winning the Club World Cup in late 2008 they overcame extreme jet-lag to beat Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, which then acted as a catalyst for an 11-game winning run that followed.


The double-winning season of 2007/2008 was only made possible by their brilliant form over Christmas, having won five out of six games to pile the pressure on league leaders at the time Arsenal. 

Big-name impacts

Having suffered with injuries for the vast majority of Van Gaal's time at the club, United are now welcoming back big names that could help them maintain their current momentum.

Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao are both ready to feature against Aston Villa on Saturday, whilst Luke Shaw should return for the Boxing Day clash against Newcastle United at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie have been in scintillating form of late, and as has David De Gea who was particularly marvellous in the 3-0 thumping of fierce rivals Liverpool at the weekend. 

Easy schedule?

On paper at least, United's fixture schedule until January makes for comfortable reading, with the away game at Villa Park expected to see them win on the ground for a fourth consecutive year.

Newcastle will travel to Manchester having enjoyed a renaissance of their own under Alan Pardew, and will arguably pose the sternest test of the festive period if their victory over Chelsea earlier this month is anything to go by.

United are winless against Tottenham Hotspur in two seasons, but their erratic form under Mauricio Pochettino makes Van Gaal's side favourites to end that drought when the pair lock horns on December 28. 

An away clash against Mark Hughes' Stoke City comes on New Year's Day, but last term aside their record against the Potters hints at another victory for the 20-time English champions. 

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