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After a difficult start to the season, Manchester United have turned upside down and are currently at the top of the Premier League.
United haven’t been in this position in such a deep campaign since Sir Alex Ferguson’s glory days, but how much has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer learned from his former mentor to keep his team on top? Because when United were up front with Ferguson, they rarely let him get away.
We have analyzed the last five times they were at the top of the table after 17 league games and how things finally ended.
Fueled by goals from the summer signing of Robin van Persie, United achieved a seemingly impregnable lead in 2012-13, which indeed turned out to be the case.
There were losses to Everton, Tottenham and Norwich, but they otherwise won 14 of the first 17 games to open a six-point lead over reigning champions Manchester City.
They kept up that relentless pace until spring, closing out Ferguson’s latest title with four games to spare, giving the legendary coach the perfect send-off.
READ: Fergie’s Parting Gift – Robin van Persie’s Fairytale Debut Season on Man Utd
A routine 2-0 win over Sunderland on Boxing Day 2010 kept the Ferguson Red Devils at the top of the table after 17 games.
New City were showing signs of improvement and were two points behind in second place, but had played two more matches, while reigning champion Chelsea had lost their consistency with Carlo Ancelotti and was coming back in fourth place.
They remained unbeaten in the league until February and eventually ended up with a nine-point lead over the pursuers Chelsea and City.
After two years of total dominance at the top of the Premier League, José Mourinho’s Chelsea had just begun to lose its shine as summer signing Andriy Shevchenko struggled to make an impact at Stamford Bridge.
Michael Carrick was United’s only new recruit, but they were available to take advantage of, looking like a force to be reckoned with. Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were reaching new heights, having buried the ax after their World Cup fight.
With a five-point lead over Mourinho’s Blues after 17 games, they didn’t budge from there, securing the first of three straight titles in style.
READ: An ode to Manchester United 06-07, an unrecognized season and a sexy Wayne Rooney balloon
Arsenal finished the season as champions after an unforgettable Invincible campaign, so it’s easy to forget they weren’t shooting full blast in the first half of the season.
Arsene Wenger’s Gunners had drawn six of their first 17 games and were one point behind leading United at that stage. Of course, in the end, they finished the league comfortably, finishing 11 points ahead of Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea.
Ferguson’s men finished third.
While Arsenal would later roar back to rekindle the rivalry, the truth is that no one could match United at the turn of the century.
After securing the treble in 1999, Ferguson’s men finished 18 points ahead of the Gunners in 1999-00 and 10 points ahead in 2000-01, and it would have been considerably more had they not lost their last three games.
They had opened a six-point lead after 17 games and didn’t budge from there. It wasn’t the only time in Ferguson’s reign that the second half of the season turned out to be a procession.
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