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Monday 04 February 2013

Little margin for error if Manchester United wish to set record

Sir Alex Ferguson's team could eclipse Chelsea's total of 95 but must keep winning

To match Chelsea's 2005 points total United can only drop six more points

The prospect of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team eclipsing the Barclays Premier League record points total of 95 achieved by Chelsea in the 2004/05 campaign has been raised by the manager’s claim that his side may only drop up to three points across the rest of the season.

"Teams will drop points [in the title race], not just us but Manchester City will drop points, absolutely," Ferguson said before Saturday's 1-0 victory over Fulham. "It’s a certainty. Chelsea and Arsenal will drop points.

"We’ll probably drop two or three ourselves, but the important thing is accepting the challenge that every game is just as difficult as the rest."

To match the 95 points set by Jose Mourinho’s side when winning their first top-flight title in 50 years, United can afford to drop only six more points from their remaining 13 matches. Were United to fulfil Ferguson's wishes and drop only three points they would set a new mark of 98 points.

Having kept pace with the 2005 Chelsea points for much of the season, the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on 20 January meant that they fell behind the rate set by the West London side, which was helped by an eight-match winning streak between Matchweeks 18 and 25.

Chelsea lost only once during their campaign, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City, and drew eight matches throughout the season as they won the league by 12 points.

Table 1: The draw against Spurs put United behind Chelsea's rate of points

United have drawn twice and lost three times so far this season, with just one of those defeats suffered at Old Trafford.

In the final stretch of the campaign, United face trips to Arsenal and Stoke City, while they have home matches against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea, who are all pursuing UEFA Champions League qualification. The Manchester derby may prove pivotal in the title race and United's pursuit of a record, with Roberto Mancini’s side looking to inflict more woe at Old Trafford, where they won 6-1 last season.

If the results that United managed last season against the remaining teams they face are replicated this campaign they are set to fall a point short of the record, assuming that they beat the two promoted sides, Reading and West Ham United.

United are currently nine points ahead of City, with Chelsea seven points further back in third.

Man Utd's remaining fixtures

10 February Man Utd v Everton (score last season: 4-4)
23 February QPR v Man Utd (0-2)
2 March Man Utd v Norwich (2-0)
9 March West Ham v Man Utd (N/A)
16 March Man Utd v Reading (N/A)
30 March Sunderland v Man Utd (0-1)
6 April Man Utd v Man City (1-6)
13 April Stoke v Man Utd (1-1)
20 April Man Utd v Aston Villa (4-0)
27 April Arsenal v Man Utd (1-2)
4 May Man Utd v Chelsea (3-1)
12 May Man Utd v Swansea (2-0)
19 May West Brom v Man Utd (1-2)

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Key Points

  • Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested his team may only drop up to three points for the rest of the season
  • Such form would mean they would surpass Chelsea's 38-club league record of 95 points
  • United need only drop another six points to equal the 2005 record