Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur Sunday March 15, 16:00 Live on Sky Sports
The Theatre of Dreams has been putting on a series of tragedies for the past 18 months, and Monday's was a tour de force. The return of the prodigal son proved painfully dramatic, as Danny Welbeck scored an FA Cup winner for Arsenal at Old Trafford, just months after his boyhood club United jettisoned him.
To add an extra twist, the malcontent Angel Di Maria was ejected from the action as referee Michael Oliver reviewed his attempt at a dive, and gave it the thumbs down. Di Maria didn't appreciate the review, and as all performers know, you can't manhandle the critics. All the while, the enigmatic Falcao was forced to wait in the wings after fluffing his lines once too often.
So, United's hopes of silverware have turned to dust, and a place in the top four is the only remaining target. I suspect talk of manager Louis Van Gaal being under pressure is premature, and even if the Red Devils fail to secure Champions League qualification, I fully expect the irascible Dutchman to be in place come August.
Despite the fact United have rarely hit top gear this season, it's easy to overdo the talk of crisis. United are fourth, two points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool, and just a point and a place worse off than Arsenal. They have beaten Champions League qualification rivals Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton this season, and they have held leaders Chelsea to a 1-1 draw. United fans might not always be keen on the possession-heavy style of play favoured by Van Gaal, but the results haven't been as shabby as some might suggest.
United are in the Top 4 , and the next five games could prove critical. United face Spurs and Liverpool in successive weeks, and after a home game against Aston Villa, they take on Chelsea and Manchester City in consecutive matches. This clash with Spurs is crucial, and Van Gaal won't have the suspended Di Maria and Jonny Evans at his disposal, while there are fitness doubts over Robin Van Persie, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw.