Manchester United head into February with two primary targets – climb into the top six in the Premier League and make further progress in the FA Cup.
The upcoming run of games would be classified as ‘favourable’ under normal circumstances, but normality is currently a forgotten commodity at Old Trafford.
Despite this, by the time fans have finished getting hold of Man United tickets for the trip to Manchester City in early March, the picture could be a lot rosier.
Read on as we assess what is on the agenda in February, starting with a game against a team that Erik ten Hag’s side cannot afford to underestimate.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) – Premier League – February 1
The Red Devils started this season with a fortunate 1-0 victory over Wolves at Old Trafford, with Raphael Varane netting the winner with 14 minutes remaining.
Just three points separates the two sides ahead of the reverse fixture at Molineux, and a win for Wolves would send them above United in the table.
However, United have won their last three meetings with Wolves without conceding a goal and will fancy their chances of grabbing another victory here.
With their next couple of games against teams currently above them in the table, United can ill-afford any slip-ups against the much-improved Midlands side.
West Ham United (H) – Premier League – February 4
West Ham host Bournemouth on Thursday, before heading to Old Trafford for a game which could be crucial in the race to finish in the top six.
The Hammers have a three-point advantage over United, but their recent results suggest they have gone off the boil since beating Arsenal at the end of December.
They have drawn with Brighton & Hove Albion and Sheffield United in the league and were dumped out of the FA Cup by Bristol City after a replay.
West Ham triumphed 2-0 when the two sides met at the London Stadium in December, but the Red Devils should gain their revenge on home soil.
Aston Villa (A) – Premier League – February 11
Villa have been the surprise package in the Premier League this season, forcing their way into the top four on the back of some excellent performances.
However, their hopes of sustaining an unlikely title challenge were dealt a severe blow as they were beaten 3-1 at home by Newcastle United in midweek.
Although that was their first home defeat of the season, it highlighted that their defence can be vulnerable if you attack with pace.
While picking up one point at Villa Park would not be the worst result in the world, United are capable of grabbing all three if they produce their best form.
Luton Town (A) – Premier League – February 18
Having been dismissed as no-hopers after winning promotion from the Championship, Luton are doing a decent job at defying expectations this season.
An emphatic 4-0 home victory over Brighton in midweek moved them out of the relegation zone and dragged a handful of other teams into trouble.
The Hatters have recorded several noteworthy results at Kenilworth Road this term and will be confident about giving United a good run for their money.
While this is undoubtedly a game United should win, they cannot afford to take things easy against a team who are fighting for their lives.
Fulham (H) – Premier League – February 24
Fulham ended last year by beating Arsenal 2-1 at Craven Cottage, but things have gone a little pear-shaped since that result.
They narrowly defeated Rotherham United in the third round of the FA Cup, but exited the competition after losing 2-0 at home to Newcastle in round four.
The Cottagers were also knocked out of the League Cup semi-final by Liverpool, and have failed to get on the scoresheet in league games against Chelsea and Everton.
Marco Silva’s side have won just once on the road in the league this season and should have their work cut out if United are anywhere near their best.
Bristol City or Nottingham Forest (A) – FA Cup – February 28
United round off their busy February schedule with a fifth round FA Cup tie at either Bristol City or Nottingham Forest.
Forest were held to a goalless draw in the first meeting at Ashton Gate and are odds-on favourites with the bookmakers to win the replay.
However, the FA Cup has not been kind to them in recent years, and the Robins are capable of springing a surprise at the City Ground.
Ten Hag’s side will not mind who they face as either potential opponent offers them an excellent opportunity of reaching the quarter-finals.