Manchester United did not play this weekend as they reached the halfway point of their winter break.

United slipped down to eighth in the Premier League table as Sheffield United and Everton won home matches.

That puts pressure on United’s next game against Chelsea, in which a loss would put a major dent in their Champions League hopes.

(LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

More accurate reflection of where United are

The race for the Champions League has been riddled by a lack of consistency from the sides below Chelsea.

Frank Lampard’s side have faltered hugely in recent months and they have remained undisturbed in fourth spot, and that same inconsistency has meant United have stayed fifth.

But three Premier League games without a goal has brought one point from a possible nine and seen them drop into the chasing pack.

 

This statistic from a fortnight ago highlights that this season’s league has seen a decline in standards.

That offers a more accurate idea of where United are right now. Is the team better or more consistent than Sheffield United or Wolves?

It would be difficult to make that argument, especially given United have failed to beat either side in the Premier League this season.

It is only the failures of the other sides around United, including Tottenham and Arsenal, to put together any kind of run of results which kept Solskjaer’s side where they were. Chelsea have been poor and they could be out of sight if not for their own struggles.

Perhaps reality is beginning to catch up. United need a strong run of form when they get back from the winter break to get back in touch with the top four.

Otherwise, the closing months of the season could see United slip into that chasing pack scratching around in midtable, as the Europa League becomes the only realistic route back into the Champions League.

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