Another season, another second-half charge by Manchester United. United’s prowess when it really matters has been proven time and again, and it looks to be another case of the same old, same old this season. United left it late against Blackburn, but the end result was a seventh straight league win and a five-point lead atop the Premier League table.
For much of the season, many have pointed to United’s visit to City later this month as the tie that could decide the outcome of the title race, but there’s a real chance things could be all but decided ahead of that match. Three of United’s four matches prior to derby day are at home, whereas three of City’s four pre-derby fixtures are away from home. That’s notable, given United’s present form and the fact that City have won only twice in their last nine away fixtures in the league.
United’s four pre-derby fixtures: v. QPR, at Wigan, v. Aston Villa, v. Everton
City’s four pre-derby fixtures: at Arsenal, v. West Brom, at Norwich City, at Wolves
Looking ahead, if United do as they should and pick up 12 from 12 over the next four matches, they’ll head to the Etihad in the driver’s seat no matter what City do in their quartet of fixtures, but if City’s away struggles continue, it’s quite possible that United could clinch the title on derby day, or perhaps even before.
That sounds exciting and all, but United will be looking at each fixture and each round one at a time and focusing on what they have to do and not what someone else has on their plate, and as hard as it is to not get all giddy about the possibilities, that must be the supporter approach as well. And looking at today, today could be almost as pivotal a day as derby day will be. With a win over QPR, United will be assured of keeping their five-point lead heading into this week’s midweek fixtures, but that lead could very well be even bigger if things go as they could at the Emirates.
United will be expected to do their part, but this is a fixture not to take lightly, especially considering that the win over Fulham was closer than expected and that it took more than 80 minutes to break Blackburn’s resistance on Monday. QPR are 0-2-7 in their last nine away league fixtures, but they do own home wins over Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks and are fighting for their Premier League lives, so you can be sure that Sparky’s side will be inspired today.
But knowing how the last two opponents weren’t so easily put away and how important today could be, we could be in for a dominant United win today.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Young; Rooney, Welbeck.
Subs: Amos, Jones, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Cleverley, Pogba.
Queens Park Rangers: Kenny; Onuha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo; Diakite, Busaky, Derry; Mackie, Bothroyd, Taarabt.
Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Campbell, Young, Helguson, Wright-Phillips, Zamora.