How many games could Manchester United play this season?
Manchester United showed signs of tiredness in squeezing past Wolves and into the FA Cup fourth round at Old Trafford last night.
Juan Mata sealed a 1-0 victory but Marcus Rashford hobbled off injured having been summoned from the bench on a night when he would have ideally been rested.
With the FA Cup and Europa League still alive and at least one more game to come in the EFL Cup, how many matches could United play this term?
And, more importantly, does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have the squad to cope?
Doing the maths
United have 16 Premier League matches remaining in which to chase a spot in the top four.
There’s the potential for a further five if United make the FA Cup final. There are no replays after the fourth round, but Solskjaer’s men could face an additional game if the tie at Tranmere or Watford next Sunday ends level.
The Europa League is notoriously gruelling, and if United are to lift the trophy in Gdansk, they’ll play nine further matches.
United have already played 34 matches this season and there’s the prospect of another 33 at the absolute maximum.
So does this Reds squad have the capacity to take on a 67-match season?
Can United handle the demands?
Solskjaer has left himself with a thin squad which means he has been unable to rotate too heavily in the cup competitions.
United’s backup defenders, such as Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot and Marcos Rojo have spent too much time injured, ramping up the burden on the likes of Harry Maguire.
The effects of playing through the pain are showing on the England international, who looks nervous and slow. He needs a rest but with only Phil Jones as cover, the situation could well worsen.
Rashford is in a similar position. In an ideal world, he’d have had last night off, but because United don’t have enough attacking options, he is almost always needed around the squad.
If United do make it through the rounds in the FA Cup and Europa League, it’s almost inevitable that their league form will suffer.
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