Undefeated in the last month of football, will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United side squeeze back into the EPL top four by season’s end?

It’s been a calm last month for Manchester United, which, given the turbulence coming out of Old Trafford in recent times, is a rarity. But there’s finally a sense that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be building something. With two clean sheets in a row in the EPL (a 2-0 win over Chelsea and a 3-0 win over Watford), things are looking up. One of the best January signings in years, Bruno Fernandes, is thriving, while midfield mainstay Scott McTominay is back from injury. Oh, and Anthony Martial is scoring goals again. United’s key goal from here is a return to Champions League football. So – will they get there?

Reeling in the Blues

With Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester likely to secure the top three positions in the EPL, the ‘the battle for fourth’ has well and truly begun. Chelsea are still favourites to secure that fourth spot, currently $1.62 with Palmerbet. But United have shortened in recent times, and are now at $3.60. In December they were $8.50, and despite a substandard season are still a chance to bring Champions League football back to Old Trafford in 2020/21. After the win against Watford, defender Luke Shaw said the side were under no illusions what was expected. “The most important thing is we closed the gap to Chelsea,” he said. “This club is known for playing in the big competitions. We all miss the Champions League nights so much, that is what we want next season. We need to fight and earn it.”

Just one point behind United, Tottenham are $6 to finish in the EPL top four while Wolves (two points behind) are $10.

Is it down to one man?

The player that may just have the biggest say whether United finish the season inside the top four is new signing Fernandes. The Portuguese has been at the club less than a month and has already made a huge impact. A vocal leader in the middle of the park, the skilful midfielder has also brought a level of calm in the United engine room. Solskjaer said the team now has a number 10 ‘nailed down’, and compared him to two notable former players. “He’s a box-to-box midfielder and can do everything a midfielder can. He’s similar, as I said, to Veron and Scholes. Some games he’ll play in a two, and some games he’ll play attacking midfielder or a 10. He’s played every position in midfield.”

An amazing scoring record at former club Sporting Lisbon, Fernandes scored his first EPL goal on the weekend against Watford. If you fancy him to find the back of the net again this weekend against Everton, he is a $3.50 ‘anytime goal scorer’ option with Palmerbet.

A trip to Merseyside

Speaking of the Everton clash at Goodison Park, United start the clash as marginal outsiders at $2.80 with Palmerbet. The Toffees are $2.50. These are the away games United need to win now, and the clash will be a test of how far Solsakjaer has really taken this team. Further, victory would be the first time United have notched three EPL wins in a row for over 12 months.

Before that, however, they face Club Brugge at home in the Europa League on Friday morning (7am AEDT). They start the Round-of-32 clash (which is poised at 1-1) as $1.40 favourites.

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