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Van Gaal points to mathematics of United’s title hope; Here’s what it would take

Manchester United v Cambridge United - FA Cup Fourth Round Replay

Manchester United v Cambridge United - FA Cup Fourth Round Replay

Man Utd via Getty Images

Unlike Chelsea, probability is not in Manchester United’s favor.

The fourth-place Red Devils may just be a pair of points short of second place in the Premier League, but they are eight points behind Chelsea and have one less match to play than the current leaders.

[ MOURINHO: 6-1-1 will seal league for Chelsea ]

And if United were to win out and get to 83 points, meaning home wins against Man City and Arsenal plus a road win at Chelsea, manager Louis van Gaal would still need the Blues to pick up just 16 points from its nine remaining matches.

More clearly, Chelsea has earned 2.31 points per match so far this season. They’d have to sink to 1.77 the rest of the way to be caught by a perfect United (slightly more to be caught by Man City or Arsenal), and United would have to make up 11 goals in differential.

But Van Gaal is still alive:

“The top four is still a rat race. I said when we had 13 points from 11 games and we were getting a lot of criticism that we would see at the end of the season. We will still see at the end of the season. We still have the top three to play.

“Can we still win the title? Mathematically, we can still do it.”

Luke Shaw returns for Manchester United against Aston Villa on Saturday, but Robin van Persie is out and an ill Chris Smalling may join him on the injured list.

Van Gaal also cautioned a reporter wishing him Happy Easter, saying that the holiday is Sunday and Jesus Christ didn’t walk to his death until 2 p.m.

Always exacting, that LVG.

Follow @NicholasMendola