Manchester United take on Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday in a match in which they cannot afford any more mistakes or slip-ups, as the race for the top-4 places gets even more heated, with team teams fighting for the last two spots available to qualify for the next season of the Champions League.
While the Red Devils come into this game on the back of a listless and toothless showing in the humiliating 4-1 loss in the Manchester derby, Antonio Conte's men made light work of Everton in a thumping 5-0 victory.
In a time where each and every point is gold dust, Manchester United will have to start picking up points if they really want to keep any hopes of qualifying for Europe.
Here are three things to look out for ahead of today's encounter:
1. The Conte rendezvous
In a parallel universe, after Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was sacked, the Manchester United board react quickly and sign Italian tactical maestro Antonio Conte, and would instantly turn into title contenders considering that this would be among one of the best squads he would work with.
At present though, while he will come to Old Trafford, it will be as manager of the opponents. While they did take their time, Conte has seemed to kind of stumble upon the right formula, and his Spurs are peaking at just about the right time of the season.
With a team that has a number of attacking options at their disposal, not forgetting their two wreckers-in-chief: Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, who kind of have this knack of scoring against the Red Devils.
The equation will be very simple for this game in minds of the fans. Win, and maybe not appointing the mercurial Italian can be forgiven, but lose, and then the minds will automatically wander to questions such as "what if we hired Conte", or "If only we made the right move then".
2. Will there be a RED response on the field?
Over the past few months, the activities in and around Manchester United have been reduced to nothing more than a bunch of clowns performing tricks, and those tricks have also stopped being funny.
We have had reports of player discontent, player cliques, unrest over training methods, questions over the coach, comments over the coaching staff and their training methods, and to top things off, the players seem to be competing for the trophy of who can make the longest apology on social media instead of competing for real trophies.
These players have turned into a bunch of entitled snobs who hide at the first sign of difficulties and then start the blame game. Instead of blaming others, maybe look into your performances for a change?
In the derby, the entire team was like an ocean of mediocrity, with no one bothered to even make an effort. Even under a new manager, the theme of this side remains the same: better, but nowhere near good enough.
If these players are so bothered by what is being said about them outside, then put in a performance on the pitch and shut them up. Isn't that the best way to silence the crowd?
For once, put away those egos at the door and walk in, put away the grand illusion that you deserve to be considered as some of the best players in the world, and play like your life depends on it.
Walk on that pitch, play like your every touch will make a difference, because that feeling is the best motivation. the fans are tired of reading apologies and empty promises.
We want a response.
And none better than getting the three points against Tottenham.
3. Crunch time for the Red Devils
With ten games left to play, including the game against Spurs, the Red Devils find themselves in an uphill battle to claim the remaining Champions League spot that is up for grabs.
Each game from now on holds massive importance, with the ramifications manifold in its significance. Every game from here is a virtual knock-out game.
A victory will take us to the next round, whereas defeat will prove to be the final nail in our coffin for our hopes of Champions League qualification.
We have to approach each game as a final, with a win being our only aim from now on. We are Manchester United. There have been endless examples in our history where we have gone on winning runs that have defied belief and reality.
In this dire situation, where everyone is baying for our blood and laughing at our demise, there is no better way than just coming out absolutely swinging, no holds barred, and just enjoying yourselves.
It might sound very anarchic, but us being us, it could just work. Starting from tomorrow, this is the final stretch. If we make it, we will live to fight another day. And it will continue.
Like Dr. Strange said, "WE ARE IN THE ENDGAME NOW".
Let the quest for European qualification begin.
Written by: Delwyn Serrao