Manchester United will have gone 17 days without a competitive fixture by the time they make the short journey across Manchester to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, October 2. But will that unplanned break help or hinder their chances under Erik ten Hag this campaign?
United have not won the Premier League since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and their wait for any silverware dates back five years – to when Jose Mourinho guided them to a Europa League and League Cup double. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick went trophyless last season.
Ten Hag was subsequently appointed as their permanent successor. However, while things started disastrously for the Dutchman – with consecutive defeats to Brighton and Brentford in his first two games – United have since been able to pick up four straight wins in the Premier League.
Amid two domestic postponements following the Queen’s death and funeral, United have also started their quest for European glory. Beaten in their Group E opener against Real Sociedad, the Old Trafford giants responded with a routine 2-0 victory over Moldovan opponents Sheriff Tiraspol.
But how will they fare in those competitions this season? According to the FiveThirtyEight supercomputer, United will once again miss out on the Champions League as a result of their Premier League finish…
Data analysed by the renowned website suggests Ten Hag and his men will be unable to improve on the sixth spot they managed last term as Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham go on to book their places at the top table. The findings give United a 25 per cent chance at upsetting early-season odds.
FiveThirtyEight predicts they will accumulate 61 points.
As for the Europa League, meanwhile, United are billed as sixth favourites (5 per cent) to reign supreme as Arsenal (11 per cent), Ajax and Liverpool top the billing. Ajax and Liverpool are currently in the Champions League, although they are seemingly expected to be eliminated from the marquee European competition.
United are seen as 20 per cent shots to reach the semi-finals and 10 per cent to make it to the showpiece, which is set to take place in Budapest on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.
1 – Manchester City (87 points)
2 – Liverpool (75 points)
3 – Arsenal (71 points)
4 – Tottenham Hotspur (69 points)
5 – Chelsea (64 points)
6 – Manchester United (61 points)
FiveThirtyEight uses SPI ratings, which have an attacking and defensive component in order to determine which team is going to win a specific game. This is then all built up to see how many points each side will accumulate for when the season ends.