Man Utd must set new record just to finish in top four…

Date published: Monday 26th November 2018 3:40

Jose Mourinho said last Friday that he was looking at the festive period as Manchester United’s opportunity to catapult themselves back into the reckoning for the top four.

The only problem: it is probably already too late. If it wasn’t already a tall order before the weekend, the dire 0-0 draw at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday means that Mourinho must inspire his men to do something that has never been achieved in the last two decades: make up a seven-point deficit after a third of the season (13 games) to finish in the top four.

Given many of Mourinho’s players are barely giving him the bare minimum, it seems unlikely that they will go to the effort of setting new benchmarks for him.

Here are the worrying stats for Mourinho and United:

– Of all the top four finishers since the Premier League began, Arsenal in 2012/13 had the biggest deficit to make up. Arsene Wenger’s men used the last two-thirds of the campaign to claw back a five-point gap and finish fourth, one point clear of Tottenham.

– Only on five other occasions – three of them featuring Liverpool – have top four finishers recovered anything more than a one-point deficit by this stage of the season.

–  And during the last 10 years, in five seasons the teams in the top four after 13 games have been the same sides that finish in the Champions League places. Only once in the last decade (last season) has the make-up of the final top four changed by more than a single side from that of the quartet at the summit after 13 games.

Had United beaten Palace on Saturday, the gap from fourth place Chelsea would have been five points – an obstacle that has been overcome before, albeit just once.

But now it seems that if Mourinho and United want to retain their Champions League place next year, they are going to have to win it this season. Or, get themselves knocked out at the group stage and win the Europa League again. Let’s not pretend it hasn’t crossed Jose’s mind…

 

5-point deficit

Arsenal 2012/13

Table after 13 games:
1) Manchester United 30pts
2) Manchester City 29
3) West Brom 26
4) Chelsea 25

6) Arsenal 20

Final table:
1) Manchester United 89pts
2) Manchester City 78
3) Chelsea 75
4) Arsenal 73

4-point deficits

Tottenham 16/17

Table after 13 games:
1) Chelsea 31
2) Liverpool 30
3) Manchester City 30
4) Arsenal 28
5) Tottenham 24

Final table
1) Chelsea 93
2) Tottenham 86
3) Manchester City 78
4) Liverpool 76

 

Liverpool 2006/07

Table after 13 games:
1) Manchester United 34
2) Chelsea 31
3) Portsmouth 23
4) Arsenal 22

10) Liverpool 18

Final table:
1) Manchester United 89
2) Chelsea 83
3) Liverpool 68
4) Arsenal 68

 

Liverpool 2005/06

Table after 13 games
1) Chelsea 34
2) Wigan 25
3) Manchester United 24
4) Arsenal 23

9) Liverpool 19

Final table
1) Chelsea 91
2) Manchester United 83
3) Liverpool 82
4) Arsenal 67

 

Liverpool 03/04

Table after 13 games
1) Arsenal 33
2) Chelsea 32
3) Manchester United 31
4) Charlton 22

9) Liverpool 18

Final table:
1) Arsenal 90
2) Chelsea 79
3) Manchester United 75
4) Liverpool 60

 

Newcastle 02/03

Table after 13 games:
1) Liverpool 30
2) Arsenal 29
3) Chelsea 23
4) Everton 23

9) Newcastle 19

Final table:
1) Manchester United 83
2) Arsenal 78
3) Newcastle 69
4) Chelsea 67

 

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