Manchester United are just about in touch with their ambitions and or expectations this season three months into it. Fresh from what turned out to be a tough October, the feeling is that United are in the right frame of mind to keep churning out results if not performances. November, on paper shouldn’t be any more daunting than October was, save for the fact that it starts with United’s most difficult fixture down the premier league years.
Chelsea (A): Stamford Bridge is the only premier league ground where Manchester United have an inferior record to their opponents. Down the premier league years, United have particularly found it difficult to come away with all three points in the West London venue. Even in the best of times, something often goes wrong than right at the home of Chelsea. Last season, this was the scene of Jose Mourinho’s most chastening day as manager of Manchester United. Given the ego driven nature of the manager, there will be an underlying desire to inflict revenge against the Champions. Chelsea are not quite as convincing as they were last season but you’d imagine they’ll be fired up and up for it on the occasion of the visit of their most successful manager. History suggests that any points from this fixture are treated as ‘bonus points’ and yet United cannot quite afford to lose further ground in the title race. Something’s got to give though.
Newcastle United (H): United will hopefully return from the last International break of the year in much better shape than they did the previous one. Newcastle United at home will start a run of games in the month that you will expect United to win. This side of the International break should also feature a return to fitness of Paul Pogba. He’s been badly missed.
FC Basel (A): This should be the night on which United confirm their qualification to the last 16 of the Champions League. Lesser pressure to get through the group should also mean more squad players and indeed Academy graduates getting a game.
Brighton & Hoove Albion (H): A second straight home game against a newly promoted side will carry the expectation of a home win but unlike Huddersfield, you hope that the attitude will be right this time to get the job done.
Watford (A): The month concludes with a tough mid-week assignment at Watford. Marcos Silva has got Watford playing with a fearlessness that has seen them get results against Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as come within a few minutes of winning at Stamford Bridge. United will not need reminding that the lost this fixture last season and will therefore have to be on their A game to get past a side that is quickly becoming this season’s dark horse.
On paper, November seems pretty easy for Manchester United save for that early blockbuster at the Bridge, but if United have emerged as challengers to City’s claim for the title then there’s virtually no excuse to lose ground in this month.