It has gone unnoticed, amind the euphoria of their latest run of form, that Manchester United start a run of tricky fixtures over December. Before 2015 is in, United have to negotiate fixtures against Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle and Spurs. There's a couple of winnable games in that run but none of the enlisted ones is a walk in the park by any means.
First up; the trip to St Mary's stadium on Monday night when United will look to win a 5th game on the bounce for the first time since Sir Alex hung up his chewing gum. It's game with everything to lose given that we could end up on either side of the spectrum come bed time on Monday.
Results from the sides below us over the last couple of rounds have meant that we've not really pulled away from the chasing pack despite our excellent form. Southampton on the other hand have seen their bubble burst and sufferred 2 defeats in the space of 3 days to City and Arsenal. As a result, we're within a point of the Saints ahead of our clash against them on Monday. It means the reward of 5th win on the bounce shall be the comfort of 3rd place on the log. It's a measure of United's progress over the last month but perhaps more crucially, an opportunity to cement their status as a top 4 side this season. The other side of the spectrum holds that we drop back into the midtable mire if we fail our next assignment.
Add to that the fact that its a first meeting between two Dutch managers who do not or at least have not gotten along and you have yourself a spicy Monday Night clash that Sky will milk to their full.
Southampton have not picked up any of the last six points on offer but they only failed at the Emirates because they had to negotiate the last few minutes a man down because of injury. Before then though, they had the measure of Arsenal. If we've learnt anything from their last two defeats is that they struggle when the opposition moves the ball quickly. Their third game in a week should further test their fitness levels. It's a detail that you feel shall not bypass Louis van Gaal given his meticulous preparation. Ultimately though, there is every opportunity for us to continue a run of form that has seen us merit a mention from premier league managers on the subject of the title race.
Injuries permitting we should be able to put out a stronger side than we did on Tuesday night, but the performance needs to match the Saturday victory over Hull. Anything less and we could be in for a nail biting affair on Monday night.