New Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick will start his tenure at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday to kickstart a run of fixtures against sides in the lowest half of the division
Ralf Rangnick enters his stint as Manchester United boss with a timely boost after Thursday’s win over Arsenal.
The German was in the stands to oversee a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired United come from behind to overturn the Gunners and secure their first home league victory since September.
United languish in seventh spot following a rotten run of domestic form – Thursday’s win was just their second in their last nine Premier League games – but are just three points from a top-four place.
One mitigating factor was United’s difficult run of fixtures, seeing them face Liverpool,Manchester City,Tottenham,Leicester and Chelsea – a demanding fixture list.
The flip side of that means that United now have an extensive run of 13 Premier League games – over a third of the campaign – with just one of those against one of the six sides above them in the standings, a home game against West Ham.
With that in mind, here is a look at United’s first seven Premier League fixtures under Rangnick.
Crystal Palace (h), 5 December
Despite Palace languishing in the bottom half of the standings, they have a strong recent record in this fixture.
They won 3-1 on the opening day of the 2020/21 campaign at Old Trafford, having triumphed at United 2-1 in the season prior – with United winless in three against Palace at their home stadium.
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The most recent meeting was a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park in March, but now the London side are managed by Patrick Vieira and have won admirers this campaign.
However, Palace have just one point from their last three games and with the boost of a new manager arriving, United are strong favourites for this game.
Norwich (a), 11 December
The Canaries are enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in form – they are unbeaten in four league matches and are just three points from safety.
That has coincided with Dean Smith’s appointment at Carrow Road, but upcoming trips to Tottenham and West Ham along with this side ensure this game will come in the midst of a tough run.
United have won their last four fixtures against Norwich, including an FA Cup quarter-final meeting at Carrow Road in June 2020.
Brentford (a), 14 December
Another testing trip to a newly-promoted side, Brentford are likely to provide a testing midweek trip for United.
After an incredibly vibrant start to the campaign, the Bees have just four points from their last seven games in the Premier League and have slid into the bottom half of the standings.
This is likely to be another test of Rangnick’s credentials early in his tenure but continues a run of games against sides who are lower in the standings.
Brighton (h), 18 December
The Seagulls are flying high this campaign and remain in the top half of the Premier League, but at the time of writing are winless in 10 games across all competitions.
Only two of those games have been outright defeats, but they have lost their last six matches to United in all competitions.
But United will have home advantage and will aim to overpower their opponents with attacking strength.
Newcastle (a), 27 December
Rooted to the foot of the standings without a win all season, Newcastle are in desperate need of points and are currently a generous opponent.
This game will arrive before the Magpies get to dip into the wealth of their new ownership in the transfer market and the visitors will again be overwhelming favourites to – what they hope – continue a resurgence in form.
Burnley (h), 30 December
Completing their run of playing all three sides in the relegation zone within five matches, United host Burnley in their final game of 2021.
United won this fixture 3-1 last season – their first victory in five over the Clarets at Old Trafford.
A home game against a relegation candidate is another kind fixture for Rangnick’s side over the Christmas period.
Wolves (h), 3 January
Completing their run of Christmas/New Year fixtures, Rangnick’s Man United take on a dangerous Wolves side at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils won 1-0 at Molineux earlier this campaign and home advantage will see them as comfortable favourites again for this one.
Wolves have lost just one of their last nine Premier League matches but will be underdogs for this clash.