After limping past BSC Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho delivered one of the diatribes of the season.
“First of all, let me send a message to my lovers and say I play Champions League 14 years and qualify 14 times. And the year where I didn’t play Champions League, I won the Europa League twice," he said.
“So, in 16 years, 14 times I qualify. Just a little curiosity for my ‘lovers’ and lovers of the stats. Realistically, to be in the last 16 in this group is an achievement, not a big one, not a fantastic one, but is an achievement.”
The stats lovers this weekend, though, can simply point to the most mainstream numbers of them all – the Premier League table.
Man Utd come into something of a derby weekend way off the pace set by the rest of the Big Six.
Five points behind fifth-placed Arsenal and ten behind leaders Manchester City and they head south to Southampton on Saturday well aware of the struggles they’ve faced on their travels this year.
The Red Devils have lost six away Premier League matches in 2018 – in only one previous calendar year have they lost more in the competition, (7 in 2015).
And since Jose Mourinho took charge of Man Utd, only Southampton (15) have drawn more Premier League games 0-0 than the Red Devils (10).
Southampton, though, have picked up just one win from their last 17 Premier League home matches (D9 L7) and Romelu Lukaku has scored four Premier League goals at St. Mary’s against Southampton – only two players have ever scored more against Saints at St. Mary’s in the top-flight (Olivier Giroud and Robin van Persie, both five goals).
And with Liverpool facing a Merseyside derby against Everton and Arsenal hosting Tottenham in the North London derby on Sunday, Mourinho will be desperate to steal a march on the other members of the Big Six.
The stakes are high. The pressure is on.