Tally the results over the big games, against the top six sides in the game, and Manchester United will come out on top of that mini-table. Include the alsorans in the mix and United will end up fifth, outside the top four, where they currently lie in the log. It baffles that Louis van Gaal and his players only really seem up for it when the opposition is considered difficult.

Unfortunately for United, the reverse scenario would be more ideal than their current predicament. Often times under Sir Alex Ferguson, the club failed in the big games but were always efficient enough to rack up an insurmountable points tally against the lesser sides of the league. United would be much better off this season if they had picked up maximum points from the likes of Bournemouth, Norwich and Newcastle United than labour to draws against Chelsea and, Manchester City.

The reasoning is simple: the lesser sides are more than the bigger sides and so it is a no brainer working out Arsenal's rise to the summit of the league for instance. One such fixture takes place at Old Trafford this weekend when Southampton visit.

The Saints won the reverse fixture last season and there is every doubt as to whether United can escape the same verdict this term. It's not that Ronald Koeman's side are better than last season; indeed they are worse, but the plague of inconsistency continues to blight United's season.

Despite being left with just 16 games and outside the elite positions, even a semblance of consistency from this point to the end of the season would be enough to see United make a decent title challenge. That in itself is testament to how open this years' tittle race is but would also go down as a chance missed to win a very average league.

The suggestion from Louis van Gaal last week that United are back in the title race by virtue of the result against Liverpool would crash straight into his face if United were to drop points again this weekend. For whilst United are 7 points off the top, it could easily be a double digit deficit come Monday. Such can be the folly of believing the gospel of the manager this season.

It only begins to make sense if United can maintain a semblance of consistency. Victory on Saturday would finally raise an eye brow or two about the relative consistency of results since the turn of the new year. United are unbeaten in 2016, which is no mean feat considering the club ended 2015 on a run of four straight defeats and a draw, winless in five!

For as long as Koeman and van Gaal remain employed in the English league, their relationship will always form a sub-plot to meetings between their two sides. The two Dutchmen will always yearn to get one over the other. Louis van Gaal leads in that respect having seen the club win 3-2 at St. Mary's back in September. United would have to be worry of James Ward-Prowse whose dead-ball skills have improved drastically this season. His free-kick technique is strangely reminiscent to that of David Beckham. If United are as meticulous as the manager wants us to believe, giving away free-kicks in and around the box should be cut out.

United remain under pressure to keep pace with Spurs to avoid slipping outside the top four places. Saturday is an opportunity to rack up the pressure big time in that respect.

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