Manchester United defied odds and expectations with a 1-0 at the Etihad that well and truly put the cat amongst the pigeons as far as fourth place is concerned.
Six weeks ago, back to back defeats against nearest title rivals Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur hit the Citizen’s title hopes badly, but they were still fully capable of overhauling the Foxes to the title. That seems a distant memory. They are now 15 points adrift of the top, and the progress made by United and West Ham in the previous six weeks has seen them close the gap on City to just a single point.
The form book gives the Hammers the edge here. Outstanding results against Everton, Spurs, and Liverpool in recent weeks proving a mental uprising under boss Slaven Bilic, but the fixture list isn’t kind, pitting them against Arsenal, Leicester and West Brom before the end of April. Arsenal will enter the Boleyn Ground looking for a fight.
Whether the Hammers can match them blow for blow will go a long way to discovering their Champions League mettle. But their inexperience in these matters may tell, expect the Hammers to push them all the way to the end, only to fall desperately short: 5th
United, after a dismal display over 180 Europa League minutes against Liverpool, have to fight for the F.A Cup amidst their top 4 hopes. But their domestic form is very much a mixed bag. Battling victories against Arsenal and Watford were mixed with defeats against West Brom and Sunderland that is a perfect example of the inconsistencies the Reds have demonstrated all season.
Though still heavily injuried, more and more bodies are coming back for the late season push – a welcome sight indeed seeing Marcos Rojo looking steadfast at the Etihad. But back to back fixtures against Everton and Spurs the worst of it for Louis van Gaal’s side, their injury list may haunt them: 6th
As for City, defeats to United and Liverpool sandwiched a draw against Norwich and a 4-0 riot over Aston Villa. A two way tie against PSG will have to be navigated without backbone components Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany, the former falling to a calf injury bailing Martin Demichelis out of a defensive blunder on Sunday.
Before that is a visit down south for Bournemouth, after which they regroup for fixtures against West Brom, Chelsea and Newcastle. Inconsistencies are troubling Manuel Pellegrini’s side. Though on paper, their unpredictability may be frustrating, they have the kindest run in and should scrape what is now their goal: 4th