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How Manchester United can resurrect their Premier League top-four challenge

Manchester United fans were rightfully delighted at the end of last season when the club finished third in the Premier League, pipping Chelsea on the final day on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 away win to Leicester City.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was being hailed after guiding the Red Devils back to the Champions League and getting rid of the negativity that his predecessor Jose Mourinho had supposedly brought in at Old Trafford.

This season was supposed to see United launch a challenge for the Premier League title, albeit with the right transfers. Bruno Fernandes showed in the second half of last season what he is capable of, and with Paul Pogba fully fit after an injury-plagued 2019-20 campaign, the Red Devils were expected to at least run Liverpool and Manchester City close in the title race.

However, things are not going according to plan. United are 14th in the Premier League table at the moment with 10 points from seven matches, eight points behind table-toppers Leicester City and six points off fourth-placed Southampton (although both the Foxes and the Saints have played eight games each).

With 31 games to go, there is still enough time for United to get their season back on track and get back in the race for the top four, and this is how they can do it:

Make Edinson Cavani a regular starter

Edinson Cavani has made a slow start to life at United. According to WhoScored, the 33-year-old striker has made three substitute appearances in the Premier League and two substitute appearances in the Champions League since joining the Red Devils on transfer deadline day.

With no pre-season and spending 14 days in quarantine following his move to Old Trafford, there is no surprise that the Uruguayan striker has not started a match yet.

However, with the international break now over, it is time for Solskjaer to make Cavani a regular in his starting lineup. The former Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli striker is a proven goalscorer, and he will be a key figure in United putting together a run of positive results in the coming weeks.

Getting better defensively

United have conceded 14 goals in seven Premier League games and have shipped in three goals in three Champions League matches so far this season. It is clear that the Red Devils need to get better at the back. It is easier said than done, though, especially as United are unlikely to be able to sign a quality centre-back in the January transfer window.

Harry Maguire’s performances this season have not been great, and the England international needs to get back to the form he showed last season and marshall the back-line like a leader again.

Get Paul Pogba playing his best

Paul Pogba remains an enigmatic player who has yet to play at his best on a consistent basis for United. There is no doubt that the France international is a superb footballer, but the 27-year-old midfielder does need to do more and make his impact on matches on a consistent basis.

Solskjaer needs to find a way to get the best out of Pogba and think of a way to get him and Fernandes to gel together. There have been suggestions that the Frenchman and the Portugal international cannot play together in the same team, and it is up to Solskjaer prove that notion wrong.

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