Manchester United will face a swamped fixture schedule during the festive period as Erik ten Hag’s men aim to consolidate their position in the Premier League top-four race.
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After cutting ties with Cristiano Ronaldo during the World Cup break, ten Hag has proved his authority and will be looking to justify the club’s belief when his players return to top-flight action on Boxing Day.
Per CBSSport journalist Ben Jacobs, Ronaldo has been in ‘direct contact’ with Al-Nassr over a megabuck deal, but the Red Devils now hope they’ve got rid of his toxic presence in the dressing room.
United will close things out in 2022 with a daunting trip to Molineux Stadium to encounter dead-last Wolverhampton Wanderers, who, after the appointment of Julen Lopetegui, want to secure survival.
Despite Wolves’ abysmal Premier League start and growing scoring issues, Man Utd would be well advised not to underestimate their rivals if they’re to enter the new calendar year on a high.
A potential victory in the West Midlands would be a massive confidence boost moving forward as we take a look at United’s upcoming challenges in January 2023.
Bournemouth – Premier League, January 1
Man Utd will be odds-on favourites to beat bottom-half Bournemouth when the two sides lock horns at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day, especially given the overall H2H record at this venue.
The Red Devils have racked up four victories across their five home Premier League games against the Cherries (D1), who have recently entrusted a relatively inexperienced Gary O’Neil with the managerial reins.
Bournemouth headed into the World Cup break on the back of five winless away games in all competitions (D2, L3), conceding at least two goals three times in the process.
If defeats at Liverpool and Manchester City by an aggregate score of 0-13 are signs of things to come at the Theatre of Dreams, ten Hag’s forwards could have a field day.
Man Utd 4-1 Bournemouth
Everton – FA Cup, January 6
Next to arrive at Old Trafford in January are out-of-sorts Everton, with Frank Lampard potentially counting his final days at Goodison Park following another catastrophic Premier League start.
Already out of the League Cup, courtesy of a humiliating 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth, and stuck only one point clear of the Premier League zone, the Toffees may intentionally sacrifice the FA Cup.
The last thing Lampard needs right now is to have his men distracted from league proceedings, which could give Man Utd a significant upper hand in this contest.
United already outperformed Everton this season, coming from an early 1-0 deficit to claim a 2-1 victory at Goodison in October. But based on the Merseyside outfit’s current form, we envisage a more convincing win here.
Man Utd 3-1 Everton
Manchester City – Premier League, January 14
Well, if there’s a game where Man Utd are expected to slip up this winter, it’s a mouth-watering home league showdown against city rivals Man City on January 14.
Pep Guardiola’s high-flyers utterly outclassed the Red Devils in the reverse fixture, with Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scoring a hat-trick apiece to inspire the Cityzens to a 6-3 win in early October.
It’s been by far the most embarrassing league defeat ten Hag has suffered since replacing Ralf Rangnick at the helm in the summer, suggesting United will be out to get revenge.
However, with Man City fighting tooth and nail to stay within touching distance of top-flight leaders Arsenal, this game will it’s hard to give United many chances in this match-up. We’re still predicting a draw, although don’t be surprised if United do a repeat of their heist against Liverpool and pick up a win here.
Man Utd 2-2 Man City
Arsenal – Premier League, January 22
Speaking of slim chances, United’s blockbuster trip to north London to face pacesetters Arsenal falls on January 22, accounting for their final outing in January.
Despite leading the way in the Premier League with a staggering 37 points from 14 matches (W12, D1, L1), the Gunners’ solitary leage slip-up came against non-other than Man Utd.
Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s second-half brace, the Red Devils humbled Mikel Arteta’s side 3-1 at Old Trafford at the beginning of September.
But Arsenal’s formidable 100% Premier League win ratio at the Etihad Stadium this term (W6) cannot inject much confidence into ten Hag’s lads, though we expect they can at least walk away with a draw.
Arsenal 1-1 Man Utd