Manchester United face a crucial few weeks as they continue to chase success on three fronts.
Monday’s 2-0 victory at Everton left Jose Mourinho’s side 12 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League, although the leaders have a game in hand on their big rivals.
With games in the FA Cup and Champions League to come during the early part of 2018, this period could make-or-break United’s season.
Read on as we look at what’s on the agenda for United over the coming weeks.
Injuries to City stars give United hope
City were lucky to escape with a point at Crystal Palace on Sunday and it will be interesting to see if that result sparks a mini wobble.
Vincent Kompany is out injured once again, while Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne both failed to finish the game against Palace.
The injury to Jesus is likely to result in City stepping up their efforts to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, although there’s no guarantee that the forward will settle into life at the Etihad Stadium if he does move.
Matchbook make City big favourites to win the title, but United must be ready to take advantage if the wheels start to fall off.
Fifteen points could crank up the pressure
United face fixtures against Stoke City, Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur, Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United over the next few weeks and they are perfectly capable of picking up 15 points from that run.
The Spurs game stands out as the most difficult, but their troubles at Wembley could certainly work in United’s favour.
With City also facing a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Bristol City during January their playing resources will be stretched to the limit.
FA Cup will help momentum
United start their FA Cup campaign at home to Derby County on Friday, but Mourinho would be well-advised not to underestimate the threat posed by the Gary Rowett’s side.
The Rams are currently second in the Championship and will fancy their chances of pulling off a shock.
Mourinho may rest a few of his stars, but a good run in the cup could be a big momentum builder for the rest of the season.
Champions League progress awaits
United could have faced Bayern Munich, Juventus or Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16, so a draw against Sevilla will have undoubtedly pleased Mourinho.
The Spanish side are currently fifth in La Liga and although they made things difficult for Liverpool during the group stage, United should prove too strong over two legs.
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