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Premier League preview: Fulham v Manchester United

Fulham have a chance to avenge their FA Cup defeat to Manchester United when the two clubs meet again in the Premier League on Saturday.

Martin Jol’s team went down 4-1 in the fourth round of the cup at Old Trafford last Saturday, with a Ryan Giggs penalty, Wayne Rooney’s goal and a brace from Javier Hernandez doing the damage.

Both teams returned to league action on Wednesday, with United coming from behind to see off promoted side Southampton 2-1.

Rooney was on the scoresheet again, the England international netting twice in the first half to cancel out Jay Rodriguez’s opener for the visitors.

Fulham meanwhile registered an encouraging 3-1 win at home to West Ham United, with Dimitar Berbatov and Hugo Rodallega both scoring and Joey O’Brien putting through his own net for the visitors.

Jol’s players responded well to Kevin Nolan’s equaliser early in the second half, Colombia international Rodallega restoring Fulham’s lead less than 60 seconds later.

But the visit of United to Craven Cottage represents a far sterner challenge – Sir Alex Ferguson’s team are enjoying a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions, their last defeat came in December, when a weakened line-up lost 1-0 at home CFR Cluj in the Champions League.

Ferguson has close to a fully fit squad to choose from, with Darren Fletcher (chronic bowel issue) their only long-term absentee.

Wide attacker Ashley Young (knee) and centre-back Jonny Evans (hamstring) have a slim chance of returning to contention for the match on Saturday.

As for Fulham, former United man Kieran Richardson (calf) has a strong chance of being passed fit to face his old club.

But midfielders Kerim Frei (groin), Mahamadou Diarra and Simon Davies (both knee) are ruled out.

For league leaders United, the match is a good opportunity to extend their seven-point lead over Manchester City.

The second-placed champions dropped points in a 0-0 draw with struggling Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday, and face a tricky assignment at home to Liverpool on Sunday.

Fulham meanwhile climbed to 12th courtesy of their win over West Ham, but will seize any chance to increase the eight-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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