Manchester United showed they are genuine title contenders in win over Man City

Fans have certainly started to dream that a title charge could be on for Ten Hags Red Devils after a significant 2-1 win for his team against local rivals Manchester City at the weekend. United currently sit fourth in the Premier League, but that could all change this week as the Red Devils travel to London to play Crystal Palace on Wednesday, where a win would see them go second in the league.

This would put them six points behind league leaders Arsenal, with the two meeting at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. A season which started with so much pessimism with a home defeat to Brighton followed by an embarrassing 4-0 defeat away to Brentford has quickly become a season to be optimistic about, with United being the only club in the Premier League left in four competitions.

Ten Hags side are also on a five-game win streak in the league, which will give them a lot of confidence going into their games this week. So, what is stopping Erik Ten Hags side from going on and winning the league?

With United still in the League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League, fixture congestion may catch up to them and eventually the squad will have to be rotated, meaning Ten Hag may have to select a team he would usually not go for. The exertions of a packed season may already be beginning to take their toll with one of Ten Hags key men this season, Diogo Dalot, currently sidelined.

The right-back received a knock in the League Cup clash against Charlton, which ruled him out of the Manchester derby over the weekend. This was following the hamstring injury he recently picked up at the World Cup.

Anthony Martial has also frequently been injured and was a doubt ahead of the derby on Saturday after a suspected leg injury. With games coming thick and fast for Manchester United, it is yet to be seen whether Ten Hags men will be able to stay fit throughout.

On top of this, they also have some challenging games left to play this season despite having already played reigning Premier League champions City twice. Arsenal at the Emirates at the weekend probably poses their most significant test.

A win would see United close the gap to the top, whilst a loss would see Arsenal extend their advantage with a game in hand. Other games include a surprising Newcastle side who are yet to lose at St James Park this season, with away games against rivals Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur also on the calendar still to come.

Despite Chelsea not being at their best this season, a home fixture against the Blues is always challenging and with the players they brought in this January transfer window could cause some serious problems for the Manchester side. There is still a long way to go for United this season, but the key for them is whether they can stay consistent for the remaining half of the season and continue to pick up points no matter the opposition, just as they did against City last weekend.

Why should there be optimism?

Uniteds defence this season has been one of the major improvements we have seen since Ten Hags tenure began at the club. By bringing in signings such as Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia, along with getting the best out of players like Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane and Dalot the backline has been much improved upon last year.

They have only conceded three goals in their last nine games across all competitions which just shows the improvements that have been made. When travelling to Crystal Palace and Arsenal it will be key for them to keep a tight defence as they are both notoriously known as tough places for the Red Devils to travel to.

Old Trafford has also played its role in helping the side build their points tally, gaining 22 points there from nine games. Beating the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City, whilst also securing a point against a much-improved Newcastle side.

Perhaps most importantly of all, United are the only side to beat Arsenal this season following their impressive victory at Old Trafford back in September. Ten Hag&aposs side are currently on a ten-match winning streak at Old Trafford ranging back to the middle of October, clearly showing that Old Trafford is quickly developing into a fortress and a place teams dont want to travel to – if things can stay that way between now and the end of the season then the sky really is the limit.