Manchester United welcome Fulham to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday as they look to get some momentum going in the Premier League after a stop-start campaign so far.
Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Key Stat: Fulham haven't beaten United since 2009 when they recorded back-to-back home wins over the Red Devils.
Expert Verdict: No one will count themselves altogether impressed with the play of United so far this season, but even their biggest detractors would find it hard to make a case for them to drop points against Fulham. The Cottagers are in the midst of the new manager bump, to be fair, and they might just come good before the season is over and climb out of the relegation zone. But that potential trouble will not be aided with this trip as a nervy Red Devils side get a much-needed win.
Jose Mourinho has so many injuries and knocks to deal with at the moment that it is hard to count them out. He played a makeshift side, yet again, at the back on Wednesday against the Gunners and somehow got a point from it. Alexis Sanchez, Victor Lindelof, Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw, and Phil Jones are all doubts to play a role, while some rotation will surely be made to get his best players back in the starting XI.
Anthony Martial looks like the Zlatan of 2018/19, if the comparison is that they just can’t win games like they are expected like that season. The Frenchman is on fire in front of goal and has scored six times already, including an equalizer in the match against Arsenal on Wednesday. Jesse Lingard is another to keep a watch on. The English midfielder has always shined brightest when the games were at their most important or when the team needed him most, and he has a chance to follow up a goal on Wednesday as well.
United have three draws, a win, and a loss in their last five matches:
2-2 home draw vs Arsenal
2-2 draw at Southampton
1-0 home win vs Young Boys (UCL)
0-0 home draw vs Crystal Palace
3-1 loss at Manchester City
Defenders:Bailly, Smalling, Rojo
Midfielders:Dalot, Pogba, Matic, Darmian
Forwards:Lingard, Martial, Lukaku
Claudio Ranieri has a couple of players on the cusp of returns in the shape of Floyd Ayite and Kevin McDonald, but they might not make it back in time for this fixture.
Since coming off the bench in the loss to Chelsea, Aboubakar Kamara has shown his promise for the Cottagers. He caused all sorts of problems for the Blues, and he scored a goal in the draw with the Foxes on Wednesday night to show he might just become a favorite of Ranieri shortly. He was assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic, a player that can offer all sorts of problems for an United side unused to playing together in their current setup.
Fulham have a draw, three losses, and a win in their last five matches:
1-1 home draw vs Leicester
2-0 loss at Chelsea
3-2 home win vs Southampton
2-0 loss at Liverpool
1-0 loss at Huddersfield
Defenders:Christie, Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand
Defensive Midfielders:Chambers, Seri
Attacking Midfielders:Kamara, Vietto, Sessegnon
It has been over four years since Manchester United and Fulham met, but they have played 52 times so far. United have dwarfed the Cottagers to the tune of 34 wins, 11 draws, and seven losses. Here's a look at the last five results:
Feb 9, 2014: United 2-2 Fulham
Nov 2, 2013: Fulham 1-3 United
Feb 2, 2013: Fulham 0-1 United
Jan 26, 2013: United 4-1 Fulham (FA Cup)
Aug 25, 2012: United 3-2 Fulham
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Manchester United are at 3/10, a draw is at 9/2, and a Fulham win is at 8/1.
Manchester United will begin play this weekend in eighth place after 15 fixtures have been played. The Red Devils are on 23 points, putting them level with the likes of Bournemouth and Everton, but more crucially are a full eight back of the Champions League places already. Just one win in their last five, with none in the last four and three draws running, shows them into this match in rudderless form. Fulham, meanwhile will start the weekend bottom of the PL table with just nine points to their name after they threw away a winning position to draw with Leicester on Wednesday. The Cottagers could theoretically move up to as high as 15th with a win in this match.
At home, the Red Devils have once again been a disappointment this term. Their form this term is very reminiscent of their form in 2016/17 in which they had a hard time finding wins. Three wins and three draws have occurred in seven matches, and though it’s not the worst, they are only ninth in the league in terms of home points. Two draws running and three in the last five at Old Trafford is a worry. The Cottagers’ away form has been downright awful, and it would be major shock to see them get anything here due to the fact they have one solitary point from eight games on the road so far. They have also let in 20 goals in those eight games, which just isn’t remotely good enough to contend for much of anything.
Martial to score first is at 4/1 at Ladbrokes.
No for both teams scoring, via Betfair, is at 2.05.
Ranieri’s first duty in charge of Fulham will be to sort out their defence. They’ve already shown signs of improvement, and that can continue against a Mourinho-limited United attack, but it won’t be enough to get them a point, much less three.