Manchester United remaining fixtures: Is Champions League qualification realistic?

Meetings with Tottenham, Leicester and West Ham among final eight Premier League games of the campaign 

Simon Rice
Wednesday 23 March 2016 18:37
Manchester United are in touching distance of the top four
Manchester United are in touching distance of the top four

Manchester United's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were given a huge boost prior to the international break with victory over geographical and top-four rivals Manchester City.

It was a result that puts Louis van Gaal's side just one point outside the Champions League qualification positions with eight games of the season remaining.

If they are to qualify for Europe's elite competition then between now and the end of the campaign they must better the results of those around them, including Man City above them and West Ham (equal points) and Southampton (three points behind).

Here, we take a look at their final fixtures and assess their chances of collecting the points they need...

Manchester United vs Everton - Sunday 3 April - 4pm

The campaign resumes after the international break with a home fixture against inconsistent Everton. When they played Roberto Martinez's side earlier in the season they won by a comfortable 3-0. But matches against the Toffees have not been won on a regular basis in recent years - with a 3-0 defeat at Goodison Park last term and a 1-0 loss at Old Trafford the season before that. They will also be hosting a side that features in-form Romelu Lukaku - a player who will be keen to impress at the Theatre of Dreams amid rumours that he is a summer transfer target for the Red Devils.

Tottenham vs Manchester United - Sunday 10 April - 4pm

Tottenham have historically struggled against Manchester United and the season opening 1-0 win for the Red Devils at Old Trafford seemed to suggest a continuation of that trend. However, under Mauriccio Pochettino Spurs are a different proposition this season and are chasing Leicester in the hunt for the title. If they are to win the league for the first time since 1961 they can't afford to drop points. And their home form is excellent - just two defeats in 16 outings. A tough one for United.

Harry Kane with his Tottenham team-mates

Manchester United vs Aston Villa - Saturday 16 April - 3pm

With an FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham on the Wednesday before, this is the ideal fixture. Aston Villa are as good as relegated and their record against United over the years is dreadful. The last time the Villains won was in December 2009 - 14 meetings ago.

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace - Wednesday 20 April - 8pm

After a promising start to the season, Crystal Palace have been in free-fall since Christmas. Whether Alan Pardew has stopped the rot by the time the Eagles travel to Old Trafford remains to be seen but it's quite possible Manchester United will have to beat a team fighting to stay in the Premier League. Winning games against Crystal Palace hasn't been too much of a bother in recent seasons - with wins home and away in 2013/14 and 2014/15 and a 0-0 draw when they met earlier this season.

Manchester United vs Leicester - Sunday 1 May - 1.30pm

A glance at the table suggests this is Manchester United's toughest remaining fixture. So far, Leicester have shown no signs of bottling it despite their unfamiliar position atop the Premier League perch. But that might not still be the case four games out from the end of the season. Results between these sides in previous years mean little - this is a Leicester never seen before. But when they met earlier in the campaign neither side triumphed - the match ending 1-1.

Jamie Vardy

Norwich vs Manchester United - Saturday 7 May - 3pm

Another relegation contender for Manchester United to handle. Norwich are currently fighting a three-way battle with Sunderland and Newcastle from which only one will survive. So United must be prepared for a side scrapping for everything - and also one that can take confidence from their meeting earlier in the season. Goals from Cameron Jerome and Alexander Tettey were enough to stun Old Trafford 2-1 back in December.

West Ham vs Manchester United - Tuesday 10 May - 7.45pm

Probably not Manchester United's toughest assignment but arguably the most pivotal in their battle for a top-four finish. As it stands United are level on points with the Hammers and a win here for either side will provide points and dent the hopes of a rival - a six pointer. It will also be something of an occasion - the last Premier League game to ever be staged at Upton Park ahead of West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium. Slaven Bilic's side will be desperate to go out in style.

A view of the traffic outside West Ham's stadium

Manchester United vs Bournemouth - Sunday 15 May - 3pm

The final day of the season sees United host a side many thought would be fighting for survival - or among the more pessimistic - even already down. As it turns out, Eddie Howe's side are sitting comfortably in mid-table and will be there when this fixture comes around. As the cliche in football goes, Bournemouth's players will have one eye on the beach - maybe even their local one. That's the exact sort of opponent United will want to be facing if Champions League qualification is on the line.

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