Could Manchester United Put up a Late Fight for a Top-Four Spot?

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

On a Weekend filled with unlimited drama from the early kickoff to the final whistle, a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick saves Manchester United’s hopes of Champions League football while Arsenal and Tottenham help keep them and West Ham United in the race.

It’s the home stretch and fourth place is nonetheless undecided. Due to teams enjoying rollercoaster runs throughout the 2021/22 Premier League campaign — it has allowed for the perfect ending — that is if you are into some dramatic final scenes.

Saturday’s Rundown: An upset for Spurs, a wake-up call for Arsenal, an opening taken by the Red Devils, and another slip by West Ham United

Tottenham opened the day against a Brighton & Hove Albion side who were inconsistent leading up to the match, to say the least. Having just recently beaten the Seagulls, it was almost certain the same fate could be handed to them at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Heroically, a stubborn Brighton stood firm and blocked and stopped any threat Antonio Conte’s men had unleashed during the 90 minutes. As fate has decided a plethora of football matches in the past after the 90th minute of the game, so was this one. Leandro Trossard, in the 90th minute, helped the visitors leave with all the points and put an instant halt to Tottenham’s run of going five games without dropping any points.

Over to their neighbouring rivals’ fixture; they continue on their downward’s spiral after enjoying a run worthy of fourth place. They’ve now gone three games without picking up any points after losing to Southampton on the road. Despite naming one of the most balanced sides while under Arteta, the firepower of Eddie Nketiah was just not strong enough to help get one back or even overturn the result.

The Gunners had 23 shots at goal with only six hitting the target. They also totally dominated the encounter having 63% of the ball possession and managing 655 completed passes — a whole 442 more passes than the Saints’ 213.

Now for arguably the most underperforming team of the usual top six, Manchester United. Firstly, what a great encounter between them and visitors Norwich City. Secondly, cometh the hour cometh the man, Ronaldo. Another match and another save from the veteran attacker. His sublime free-kick in the 76th minute knocked the wind out of Canaries and the rest adds to his footballing history.

On Sunday the Hammers had a chance to close the gap on their top-four contenders as well but like in recent weeks, they’ve missed the boat again, and this time drawing to Sean Dyche’s Burnley.

The weekend worked out perfectly for the Old Trafford side to gain some ground on their top-four rivals. The only question left to ask while everybody enjoys the dramatised home straight is who will exhibit the best consistency from now until the end of the season?

Point Situation for Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs, and West Ham

Spurs lead the pack in fourth place with 57 points and are ahead of Manchester United (54 points) by three points only. Then they lead both Arsenal and West Ham by five points, who are on 54 points each and in sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Arsenal’s game in hand holds the same amount of value as a winning lottery ticket. But they need to turn their results around. They were once in the driving seat but now must win every game they play if they want to secure their main goal this season — every game is a final.

A win keeps them in the race. A loss and they miss their shot for the Champions League spot. David Moyes and his side have a lot to consider; the EPL top four or the Europa League? Both options get them a spot in next season’s Champions League. So what to do Moyes?

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