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Nemanja Matic roaring at Old Trafford.

Opinion: Matic & Lukaku are peaking at the right time

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Former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo appears to have perfected it, but peaking at the right time is a useful attribute to have and, in an era where athletic prowess has never been more relevant in the game, coming on strong at this stage of the season appears crucial.

Some were willing to write Ronaldo off but the 33-year-old saves his very best for the business end of the campaign and has been in sensational form since the turn of the year, notably scoring a sensational overhead kick during a masterful two-goal display against Juventus on Tuesday night. 
 
Much has been made of the fact the Premier League he left to go to Real Madrid is a test of endurance, with so many games played over the winter and challenges faced in every single game. With that being the case, two of Jose Mourinho's summer signings are showing just why the manager brought them to Old Trafford.
Ronaldo gives thumbs-up signal
With 23 goals since the turn of the year, Ronaldo is getting stronger as the season progresses.
In horse-racing parlance, they have form over course and distance. Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku were proven Premier League performers who know the division inside out and are capable of making a sustained impact from August through to May.
 
It may be hard to maintain consistency in the freezing temperatures in the winter but to move up another level in spring, when the decisive fixtures come around, must also be a real challenge. Sir Alex Ferguson used to, tongue in cheek, complain all of his squad would be as fresh as daisies at this point, thus making his selection headache even more intense.
 
Matic started his United career superbly and has kicked on again. At 29, he is in his prime and has shown extraordinary fitness levels this term, considering he missed a great deal of pre-season while his move from Chelsea was finalised. When the Emirates FA Cup semi-final comes around, our most important game of the campaign, he will have a cool head and the engine to go with it on the taxing Wembley pitch. After all, he scored a beauty in the victory against our opponents on 21 April, Tottenham Hotspur, at the same stage of the competition last season.
ManUtd.com's Adam Marshall says

"Matic started his United career superbly and has kicked on again. At 29, he is in his prime and when the Emirates FA Cup semi-final comes around, our most important game of the campaign, he will have a cool head and the engine to go with it on the taxing Wembley pitch."

So we know what he can do and we appreciate his form level is currently very high. The same must be said for Lukaku, who is scoring so regularly it is almost getting taken for granted. Looking perfectly at home at Old Trafford, as he did from the outset, in fairness, the striker appears supremely confident in front of goal and safe in the knowledge that chances will come his way.
 
Brilliant for Belgium, his debut campaign at United has been under-rated by many. Given his record, it was probably guaranteed he would fire the bullets for the Reds this term and compensate for the loss of the goals by last year's top scorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The outstanding contender for March's Player of the Month, arguably he should have won it in February, the 24-year-old is a man to be feared by every top-flight defence.
 
If he can score in Saturday's Manchester derby against City, he was unlucky not to equalise in the corresponding game at Old Trafford when his shot struck Ederson in the face, and in the FA Cup last-four tie with Spurs, he will surely, once and for all, end any accusations of being a 'flat-track bully', using a cricketing term this time. After all, he has found the net against ex-employers Chelsea and in the knockout stages of the Champions League, not to mention Real Madrid on his competitive Reds debut in the UEFA Super Cup.
Lukaku celebrates against Sevilla
Lukaku's drive and determination were a bright spot in the defeat to Sevilla.
There is optimism that this goal streak can continue for Romelu because he is in peak form, and that must be a positive sign for future years too. He has netted in five of his last six matches for United and seven times in eight outings. He looks every bit as strong and sharp as he did in August.
 
We'll never forget he ended his loan year at West Brom in 2013 rather well, with a hat-trick against us on the final day in Sir Alex's last-ever game, and there is every incentive for him to finish this campaign on a huge high. He told MUTV at the weekend it's trophies he wants more than goals, and the FA Cup represents our chance for silverware this term.

Lukaku: There are more goals to comeVideo

There is also the possibility of becoming only the seventh man since the War (after Stan Mortensen, Jackie Milburn, Nat Lofthouse, Charlie Wayman, Jeff Astle and Peter Osgood) to score in every round of the FA Cup, from the third round to the final. Nobody has managed that since Osgood 48 years ago. No Manchester United player has ever done it.
 
So there is still all to play for and a chance for Matic and Lukaku to maintain their top form, at a time when it means the most.

The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.