Barring a nearly unprecedented collapse from Chelsea, the Premier League title race is over and the chase for second is the main storyline moving into the final four weeks of the season.
The Blues’ 13-point lead means only Arsenal can catch them, and even that would require the Gunners finishing 5-0 with the Blues losing as many — or more — matches in their final four as they have all season.
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This, of course, leaves Manchester United’s best finishing position as second, which isn’t what the massive club ever wants to accept from a season. And manager Louis van Gaal says his side isn’t good enough to keep pace with Chelsea this year, but that will change next season.
From the BBC:
“This year we have not challenged Chelsea but we are very close to second position. Chelsea are far above the other clubs. Next year it can be different. Next year we shall be better prepared.”
There’s little doubt that, talent-wise, Manchester United can find itself on level terms with Chelsea after another transfer window closes, but it takes time for a side with new players to find its stride.
Only Didier Drogba is out of contract for Chelsea this summer, and the Blues may not have a lot of new integral pieces to fit into the squad next year. As we saw with United this season and Tottenham last, it takes time for talent to adjust to a new league.
Assume United adds 2-3 expected starters. Even if David De Gea and other curent starters stay around, will preseason be enough to help the Red Devils get off to a better start? That’s the main challenge for Van Gaal, as Mourinho’s boys have lost just a pair of matches this season.
No team has lost less than 5 Premier League games in a season since United in 2010-11, and the last time a team lost just two was 2008-09. Remarkably that team, Liverpool, finished second to United due to drawing 11 matches.
Van Gaal also announced that the knee knock picked up by Wayne Rooney won’t keep him out of Saturday’s match against West Bromwich Albion.