Manchester United’s blistering start to the 2017-18 season may have taken some people by surprise considering they only made three acquisitions during the summer transfer window.
They look a million times better than the team that limped to only a sixth-place finish last season, a massive 24 points behind champions Chelsea. So far this season, no team has even come close to troubling the United juggernaut, aside from Stoke, who had arguably their best game of the season against the Red Devils.
The odds on Manchester United to win the league have drastically shortened in recent weeks, and rightly so. Following their red-hot form, some Premier League betting markets now have them as short as 11/4 to win their 21st title.
Whilst the front four of Rashford, Lukaku, Mkhitaryan and Mata have been grabbing all the headlines, it is the rock-solid back four of Valencia, Bailly, Jones and Blind who have been the most improved. Having only shipped two goals in the first seven games, both of which came against Stoke, Jose Mourinho will be more than happy with his defensive quartet.
The surprise package this season is the revitalised Phil Jones whose recent resurgence is keeping him ahead of £30.75 million Swedish international Victor Lindelöf, the man who was bought in the summer to shore up United’s shaky defence.
Jones, 25, has not yet managed to fulfil the potential that Sir Alex Ferguson saw in him back in 2011 when he splashed out £16.5 million to bring him to the club from Blackburn Rovers, but he is likely to be key as to whether United can continue to dominate in the Premier League this season.
Jones’s revival could not have come at a better time for United, who are still reeling in the wake of Ferguson’s retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season after a 26-year reign. The club are now on their fourth manager in five years, including interim coach Ryan Giggs, each of whom have had a varying degree of success. After enduring a somewhat barren spell, everyone around the club is surely hoping that the appointment of Jose Mourinho will provide the club with some much-needed stability and that he will be able to add some silverware to the recent Europa League triumph.
It would be fair to say that Jose’s men have yet to face a real test in the Premier League this season, with all seven opponents so far this season currently residing in the bottom half of the table. With upcoming games against fellow top six contenders Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea, coupled with Champions league fixtures against Benfica and Basel, the season is really beginning to hot up.
The next few weeks are likely to show the world just exactly where United stand, not only to those around them in the Premier League, but also amongst Europe’s elite. Phil Jones could hold the key.