After an indifferent season, Manchester United managed to pull out a very impressive run of six consecutive victories to give them a fantastic chance of getting an automatic Champions League place.
With superb wins over Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City in recent weeks, Louis van Gaal has seemed to find the winning formula at the right time, going from being seriously under-threat from Liverpool, to be outsiders for the title.
Ok, so the very slight title chances have now been extinguished following defeat at Chelsea, but this should not detract from the run that put United in contention to begin with, while the performance at Stamford Bridge was another impressive one.
But how exactly have they turned things around?
The return of Michael Carrick
It is no surprise that this is a major factor in Manchester United's revival, with the Red Devils winning 12 and losing just one of their 16 games this season when Michael Carrick has started.
His cool head in the centre of midfield and his ambition with forward-thinking passes has made Manchester United a more dangerous force, allowing more advanced players to have a big impact in games.
Carrick's composure both with dictating the tempo of Manchester United's play and his defensive awareness and positioning make him probably United's most important player.
The form of Marouane Fellaini
I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of people did not see this coming. Touted as a very expensive flop after his first season following his £27.5 million move from Everton, Fellaini has unexpectedly become established in Van Gaal's first XI.
Under David Moyes he was used as a central and defensive midfielder and it was widely expected that Van Gaal would be looking to move him on. But especially in recent weeks, the Belgian has been unplayable.
He dominated the Tottenham and Manchester City defences, in particular by pulling into the left channel, and combining with Ashley Young, who has also been in scintillating form of late.
His physical presence has caused defences numerous problems and finally looks like a settled player at the club, with two big goals coming against Spurs and City. His general play also allows others to have more space and cause more issues.
Having players fit
A big issue with United throughout the season was the consistency in which they picked up injuries, especially at the back. Van Gaal's increased training intensity and physical work seemed to have a negative effect.
As a result they played a number of different systems to accommodate for these problems, from 3-5-2 to 4-2-3-1.
However, recently United have had a more settled defence, with Valencia, Smalling, Jones and Blind making up the back four, as part of a very successful 4-3-3 formation. Smalling and Jones especially have impressed with their good performances.
Having a settled defence and team in general always helps, and that has been a big factor in United's improvement.
Wayne Rooney moving back up front
A heavy criticism of Van Gaal this season has been the utilisation of Wayne Rooney in a deeper role. This has restricted Rooney's influence at the top end of the pitch, and showed in his goals tally.
However, it seems that the ankle injury suffered by Robin van Persie has been a blessing in disguise, as Van Gaal has had to push Rooney further forward and he has responded in front of goal.
He has shown just how valuable a player he is both on and off the ball. And what happened against Chelsea? Rooney played in midfield and United lost. Say no more.
Manchester United fans: where do you expect your team to finish this season? Let us know below!
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