Manchester United face three Premier League fixtures between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day as part of the tradition frantic festive period.
United took six points from the corresponding three matches last season; at home to Newcastle, away at Burnley and then Arsenal.
Three matches within six days is a ludicrous demand, even accounting for modern fitness methods, but the campaign to remove the round of matches between the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s Day is for another article.
How many points will United get from a possible nine? We’ve taken a look.
Newcastle (H) – Win
United have struggled badly in games where they dominate possession, while Newcastle have produced some great shock away wins this term.
So perhaps United could be expected to struggle here, but they have started scoring goals more regularly now.
This will be a test of United’s improvement and one they have to win if they have any designs of getting into the top four.
Solskjaer will understand the importance of making the most of United’s only festive home match, especially with just one away win racked up at the time of writing. That desire should get United the win.
Burnley (A) – Draw
This is a really tricky away trip with just over 48 hours turnaround time on 28 December.
Burnley are more open this season than in previous years, which may grant United opportunities on the break.
But Turf Moor, like Bramall Lane and St James’ Park is a tricky place to go and United have failed to win at both already this season.
Sean Dyche’s side are always pumped up and a draw looks the most likely. The final round of matches are usually of a poor quality every year because of the short recovery time from Boxing Day and that could be the case again here.
Arsenal (A) – Win
The quality of the 1-1 draw between the sides earlier this season indicates how far both teams are away from their former glories.
Solskjaer engineered a fantastic 3-1 FA Cup victory at the Emirates Stadium last season, before United were abject in a 2-0 league loss there.
Arsenal have a new manager in Mikel Arteta which makes them unpredictable, but they have recently been on their worst run since 1977, with no wins in nine.
They are leaving oceans of space on the counter attack, which should suit United if they can exploit the nervousness in the stadium.
An unbeaten festive period would be a real boost for Solskjaer and United and the banana skin visit of Newcastle on Boxing Day will set the tone.
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