Manchester United face horror March fixture list, but stats offer some comfort

March could prove to be a season-defining month for Manchester United who face City, Tottenham and Liverpool in quick succession. Planet Sport takes a look at their chances of success.

Making the top four this season is of the highest priority for Ralf Rangnick and his men. 

Failure to bag Champions League qualification would be disastrous and could lead to a number of high-profile departures. You can't expect Cristiano Ronaldo to be wasting the final years of his career playing Thursday nights away in some unknown Eastern European town. No disrespect to any Eastern European towns, but you get the point.

As things stand, United occupy fourth spot, but a closer look at the table will certainly cause many fans to sweat.

West Ham are two points behind in fifth, but the real danger comes from Arsenal and Tottenham who sit in sixth and seventh.

Coach of Manchester United Ralf Rangnick during the Champions League football match between Atletico de Madrid and Manchester United

The Gunners have played three games less than the Red Devils and are just two points behind. Spurs, meanwhile, have played two fewer games and trail Rangnick's side by five points.

With that in mind, it's imperative for United to enjoy a strong March and maintain their charge for the top four. However, what exactly are the chances of United coming away unscathed against City, Liverpool and Tottenham? And more importantly, how many points can they realistically hope to win?

Here, we take a look at the numbers.

Man City vs Man United - Sunday, March 6

Manchester United's Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Scott McTominay and Cristiano Ronaldo

United's first test of the month will be a Manchester derby, which will take place away at the Etihad Stadium.

The latest Sports Power Index (SPI) rating gives the Red Devils a 12% chance of bagging all three points. These ratings are based on a range of variables and United's inconsistent form has certainly contributed to that low percentage.

However, if you look at their recent record against the Citizens, United certainly have good reason to be optimistic.

The Red Devils have won three of their last five encounters with City, and they've picked up a total of ten points during that time.

Their last visit to the Etihad took place 12 months ago and, on that occasion, it was United who enjoyed a 2-0 victory.

If that isn't enough, there appears to be a touch of anxiety creeping in to the blue half of the city. A recent defeat to Tottenham has given Liverpool fresh hope in the title race and means City can't be as cavalier as they once were.

What's more, we also have to acknowledge the fact that United have only lost one of their last 11 games - a respectable run to say the least. With that in mind, don't be too hasty to dismiss United's chances. While Rangnick's men are unlikely to walk away as victors, they are more than capable of securing a point.

Last five Premier League head-to-heads

Man City wins: 1

Draws: 1

Man United wins: 3

Man United points: 10/15

Man United vs Tottenham - Saturday, March 12

Manchester United's Fred, Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane form a wall during the Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Recent games between Manchester Untied and Tottenham have been blockbusters. In fact, the last three head-to-heads alone have produced 14 goals.

However, if Rangnick's first few months have taught us anything, it's that we shouldn't expect too many goals in games featuring his United outfit.

As if to illustrate the point, the Red Devils have scored more than one goal in just two of their last eight competitive outings.

Games with few goals might not sound exciting but it's this very fact which could serve United well going into the Tottenham game.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane embrace after the Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Spurs have thrived in recent high-scoring duels, with the team securing a 3-2 win over Man City, a 3-1 success over Brighton in the FA Cup and a 3-2 victory over Leicester.

However, when teams have kept the score low against Antonio Conte's men, they normally come out victorious. Just ask Burnley and Chelsea who enjoyed recent 1-0 and 2-0 wins, respectively.

The other bit of good news for United is their impressive recent form against their London rivals. The Red Devils have taken 10 points from their last five Premier League meetings, including three victories.

Bearing that in mind, there's no reason why United shouldn't target all three points against their top-four chasing rivals - especially on home turf.

Last five Premier League head-to-heads

Tottenham wins: 1

Draw: 1

Man United wins: 3

Man United points: 10/15

Liverpool vs Man United - Sunday, March 20

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (right) scores their side's fifth goal of the game, completing his hat-trick, during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.

So far, the stats have given United fans many reasons to feel confident about the upcoming month. But I'm afraid there are simply no positives when we get to the Liverpool fixture.

The Red Devils picked up a mere two points from their last five league encounters against the Reds. What's more, they conceded 12 goals in that time, while scoring just three themselves.

The last meeting between the two ended in a bloodbath as Liverpool ran out 5-0 winners at Old Trafford - a defeat which set the wheels in motion for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's eventual exit.

The previously mentioned SPI rating also make for stunning reading as it suggests an 86% chance of United failing to win this game.

But then again, we shouldn't be overly surprised. The Reds are currently one of the most in-form teams in European football and are heading into the new month on the back of a Carabao Cup triumph.

United haven't won at Anfield since 2016 and they've done little to make a case for a change in that statistic.

Last five Premier League head-to-heads

Liverpool wins: 3

Draws: 2

Man United wins: 0

Man United points: 2/15

How many points will Man United win in March?

It would be an extraordinary feat for this current United team to pick up all nine points. It was also be a sensation if they were to go the entirety of March pointless.

Looking at the stats, the realistic number is four. One win and a draw is certainly not beyond Rangnick's men who have become harder to beat since the German's arrival. But four points will surely see them outside the top four when we enter April.

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