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Manchester United 13/2 to lose final three Premier League games

Manchester United’s season went from bad to worse with their 4-0 thrashing at Selhurst Park on Monday night, and it’s only 13/2 that they lose their remaining three games this season.

bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “The horror show at Selhurst Park as well as the current form of Newcastle and Chelsea means they might have to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final to guarantee European football next season and we all know how difficult that will be.

“Arsenal are their next opponents and Mikel Arteta must be rubbing his hands at facing that defence at Old Trafford in a game where they’re priced at 2/5 to win, such is the decline of Manchester United right now.”

Things don't get much easier from there, hosting a resurgent Newcastle, who've won four of their last five games, in which they scored 14 goals, before a trip to the south coast to face Brighton, who've beaten Manchester United in each of their last four league games by a combined score of 10-2.

You could perhaps make a case for United putting a couple of results out of the bag if they weren't so injury-stricken, but when Casemiro and a half-fit 36-year-old Jonny Evans are lining up at centre-half, it gives an idea of the scale of the Red Devils' fitness issues.

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Ultimately, though, the injury record of his squad is not a sufficient excuse for the recent showings by Erik ten Hag's men. United have bounced from calamity to calamity since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, from their record low points tally under David Moyes, to the dire football of Louis van Gaal, to the nadir and new record low points tally under Ralf Rangnick, and they could set another record low points total this time around.

Currently on 54, they need five more points to eclipse the 58 set under Rangnick in 2021/22, and it's 11/4 that they pick up 5-7 points, and 4/9 for 1-4 points.

With Ten Hag at the helm, United finally seemed to be getting back on track, with a progressive, tactically astute manager seemingly ready to take the next step to one of Europe’s top clubs.

United finished third in the Dutchman’s first season, winning the EFL Cup and reaching the FA Cup final. Despite that, his time at Old Trafford is likely to be remembered as a resounding failure, with United hardly in a better position than when he took over.

There were warning signs in Ten Hag’s first season that vulnerabilities were there; they only scored 58 goals (and 17 of those were from Marcus Rashford) – as many as Brentford and only seven more than relegated Leicester, with a goal difference of +15 (worse than Brighton), and while it was a good season, it was chequered with some dismal results and performances.

Optimism was high coming into the new campaign, however. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David de Gea were gone, while Rasmus Hojlund, Andre Onana and Mason Mount had arrived with things taking shape.

But that optimism was quickly extinguished. United lost four of their first six games in all competitions, extending to 14 at the turn of the year.

A Champions League group they should’ve cruised through became farcical, losing at home to Galatasaray having been 2-1 up, then throwing away a 2-0 and 3-1 lead in Copenhagen to lose 4-3, again throwing a 2-0 and 3-1 lead away to draw 3-3 with Galatasaray, going on to finish rock bottom and be dumped out of Europe completely.

Things have arguably been even worse domestically. After stealing three points against Wolves in their opening game, United’s goal difference fell to -1 after losing to Tottenham the following week and it took until mid-February to be positive again. Even that only lasted a week, and of all the damning stats around United's season, that their goal difference has never been better than +1 might be the worst of them all. Indeed, they’ve only had a positive goal difference after four matches throughout the whole campaign.

Even their xGD has never been better than 2.0, and they’ve been in the red on that metric for most of the season, sinking to -11.6 after the Liverpool and Bournemouth games (a timely reminder that Leicester were relegated with an xGD of -12.8 last season), and still as low as -10.4 after the Crystal Palace debacle.

And unfortunately for Ten Hag, ‘debacle’ is perhaps what sums his reign up best. Far too often we’ve seen games that have been simply laughable: The 6-3 to City, the 7-0 to Liverpool, the 3-0 to Sevilla, the 3-2 to Galatasaray, the 4-3 to Copenhagen, the 3-3 with Galatasaray, the 1-1 with Brentford, the 4-3 to Chelsea, the 3-3 with Coventry, the 4-0 to Crystal Palace.

And that’s ignoring the other shambolic efforts that saw them pick up one point from home games with Brighton, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Fulham and Burnley.

The shots conceded statistic seemed to be wheeled out nearly every week from around February – and with good reason – and while Ten Hag argued (not unfairly) that the quality of the shots they were conceding was actually quite low, the sheer volume of them is so alarming and not something he seemed willing to address.

And even if the quality was quite low, the sheer volume means that at some point, one of those low-quality shots will go in, and that’s what’s been happening nearly every week since February. Only Everton in United’s last 12 games failed to score, while Fulham, Bournemouth, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace all managed at least two goals.

But by most metrics, Manchester United are one of the worst defensive outfits in the league. Their xGA of 63.3 is the fifth worst in the league, and worse than bottom side Southampton’s from last season. There’s every chance they’ll take over the other two relegated clubs (Leeds, 67.2 and Leicester, 63.4) before the end of the campaign. They’ve conceded the third most shots in the league and allowed the fifth most touches in their penalty area. In the last 10 seasons, only two sides who’ve finished bottom of the league have allowed more shots than Erik ten Hag’s side, and one of them is Sheffield United this term.

From what should’ve been another top-four finish, United are now half-heartedly hoping they can qualify for the Conference League – a competition that was designed for clubs who rarely make the group stages of the Champions League or Europa League. Could you imagine Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich – three clubs whose standing Manchester United like to compare themselves to – competing in the Conference League?

Of course, they could avoid that ignominy by simply finishing in the top six of the Premier League (8/1) or by beating Manchester City in the upcoming FA Cup final (4/1).

But based on this season, and particularly the last few weeks, it’s looking like it'll be the Conference League – at best – for Manchester United.

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