Ever since his appointment Louis Van Gaal has reminded everyone that his ultimate goal this season is to get United into the Champions League. After spending upwards of £140 million and with one of the best records over the past twenty years of any manager in Europe, Van Gaal was expected to deliver a top four place without too much of a problem and despite some poor away results has kept United looking like a decent bet to make next season’s top European competition.
Part of the reason for many fans’ confidence in Van Gaal’s ability to make the top four has been the below par performance of many of the other leading contenders for the Champions League spots. Arsenal have endured an inconsistent start to the season, while Liverpool have looked a shadow of the team that challenged for the title during the last campaign- until now.
Since United defeated Liverpool at Old Trafford Liverpool have won four and drawn two in the Premier League- itself rather troubling from a United point of view- while more recently they’ve faced Chelsea twice without losing either game in the first 90 minutes. Chelsea’s win in extra time last night, simply underlined the fact that Liverpool have been looking more and more like a side getting their act together in recent weeks and with Daniel Sturridge to return from injury there’s every reason to start expecting them to be seriously challenging for the top four. Despite being knocked out of the League Cup, Liverpool gave a good account of themselves over the two legs and were a tad unlucky not to at least take the game into penalties.
United sit five points ahead of Liverpool and have still to travel to Anfield, so maybe now after seeing them go toe-to-toe with league leaders Chelsea it’s time to stop dismissing Brendan Rodgers’ side.