Manchester United fans will have learnt a lot more about this team by March 21

Manchester United fans would have been expecting their side to be facing Tottenham Hotspur for a spot in the FA Cup quarter-finals tonight.

But after the humiliating penalty shootout defeat to Middlesbrough in the first game following the winter break, United instead have a free week.

Ralf Rangnick will be using the week to fine tune his side ahead of the daunting trip to the Etihad Stadium for Sunday’s second Manchester derby of the season.

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The Red Devils were cut to ribbons by Pep Guardiola’s side at Old Trafford back in November and were lucky City took their foot off the gas and were content with a dominant 2-0 victory.

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It’s going to take a huge team performance for United to come away from the Etihad with a positive result.

A defeat against our noisy neighbours could see United finish the weekend in sixth place.

The following weekend, United welcome Antonio Conte’s Tottenham to Old Trafford in what could prove to be a crucial clash that has a huge bearing on who finishes in the all important fourth spot.

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United produced one of their best performances at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but it was clear Spurs were no longer playing for former boss Nuno Espirito Santo who was sacked following the 3-0 loss.

Conte’s side have been just as inconsistent as United, but having played two more games than Spurs, the onus will be on the twenty-time champions to get a positive result.

Three days after the Tottenham game, United welcome Atletico Madrid to the Theatre of Dreams for the Champions League last-16 second leg, with the tie finely poised at 1-1.

Barring a moment of inspired brilliance from Anthony Elanga, United looked well off the pace in the Wanda Metropolitano.

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Simeone’s side, who are building some momentum ahead of the second leg, will fancy their chances of ousting Rangnick’s men.

United’s last fixture in March before the international break sees us travel to Anfield on March 20 where we will be looking to avenge the 5-0 annihilation that we suffered in October.

Being realistic, the best case scenario for United from the four fixtures this month would be a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals, and four or six points picked up from our three blockbuster Premier League games.

The worst case scenario is crashing out of the Champions League and losing all three of the Premier League games which could leave us as low as eighth in the table.

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In 20 days time Manchester United’s season could be very much alive and kicking, or it could peter out without trace.

United fans will be hoping this inconsistent crop of players can click and produce their best form when it’s most needed.

But judging by our performances this season, it’s hard to envisage where we will be come March 21.

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.