Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Prediction: Manchester United vs Fulham

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 13/25

Bookmaker: ZetBet

Coming into the weekend on the back of games where they were at different ends of a 1-2 scoreline, Manchester United and Fulham will be fighting for Premier League points on Saturday afternoon at Old Trafford. United triumphed away to Luton Town in a highly dynamic contest, while Fulham lost at home to Aston Villa.

The previous encounter between these teams, played at Craven Cottage in November, ended in victory for the 20-time English champions after Bruno Fernandes scored the only goal just as the second-half stoppage time started.

Manchester United

While Sir Jim Ratcliffe acknowledges that Manchester United are still a long way behind top rivals Manchester City and Liverpool, whom they aim to “knock off their perch”, the club’s recent form has sparked hope for a top-four finish.

The Red Devils’ four-game winning streak, including victories over Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United, Aston Villa, and Luton Town, has propelled them to sixth place in the Premier League standings. With Tottenham Hotspur just three points ahead in fifth and Aston Villa holding a five-point advantage in fourth, United are within striking distance of the Champions League spots.

Before the much-anticipated Manchester derby, United must focus on their upcoming clash with Fulham. Given their strong record against the Cottagers in recent meetings, United will be confident of securing another victory, especially as they aim for back-to-back wins at Old Trafford for the first time since August last year.

If Erik ten Hag’s team can maintain their winning streak, they could achieve a 100% win rate in a month with at least five Premier League matches for the first time since January 2009.

Team News

Dealing a significant blow for United, Luke Shaw is facing a few months on the sidelines. Victor Lindelof is likely to fill in at left-back in Shaw’s absence, with Sofyan Amrabat also an option. In defense, Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, and Harry Maguire are expected to complete the back four.

Meanwhile, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia, Anthony Martial, and Mason Mount are also unavailable due to injury. With several key players sidelined, United will rely on their remaining squad members to maintain their recent form.

In midfield and attack, Ten Hag is likely to stick with the same names for the fifth successive league game. Casemiro, Kobbie Mainoo, and Bruno Fernandes are expected to operate behind Alejandro Garnacho, Marcus Rashford, and Rasmus Hojlund.

Fulham

Fulham’s recent form has been mixed, with four points from their first two games in February followed by a 2-1 defeat against Aston Villa last weekend. Ollie Watkins scored twice for Villa, while Rodrigo Muniz found the net for Fulham, but they were unable to salvage a point.

Consistency has been an issue for Marco Silva’s side this season, with only one instance of back-to-back wins in early December. Currently sitting in 12th place, Fulham are neither in danger of relegation nor in contention for a European spot, with eight points separating them from both the bottom three and eighth place.

Heading to Old Trafford, Fulham possess the second-worst away record in the Premier League this season, with just seven points earned on the road. They have failed to win any of their last 11 away matches since their opening day victory against Everton.

To make matters worse, the Cottagers have struggled historically at Manchester United, losing 13 of their last 16 away encounters against the Red Devils. Their only win during this period came back in October 2003, more than two decades ago, when Chris Coleman was in charge of the team.

Team News

In-demand midfielder Joao Palhinha will serve a two-match suspension, as he has accumulated 10 yellow cards this season. In his absence, Harrison Reed, Sasa Lukic, or Alex Iwobi are likely candidates to fill the gap alongside Tom Cairney in the middle of the park.

Manager Marco Silva will also miss striker Raul Jimenez due to a thigh injury, while Kenny Tete and Armando Broja are doubtful for the match due to calf and illness issues, respectively.

Calvin Bassey may return at centre-back ahead of Issa Diop, while there could be competition between Harry Wilson, Adama Traore, and Bobby De Cordova-Reid for a start on the right flank. Willian is expected to operate on the left, with Rodrigo Muniz likely leading the line.

Conclusion

Man United may continue to show signs of weakness at the back, but they have found their groove in the final third since the turn of the year and will be full of confidence heading into Saturday’s contest against a Fulham side against whom they boast an impressive head-to-head record.

Fulham’s miserable winless away run is a cause for concern, and although they held their own in the reverse fixture with the Red Devils, it is difficult to back against Ten Hag’s resurgent side, especially in front of an Old Trafford crowd whose spirits will have been boosted greatly by the recent results.

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 13/25

Bookmaker: ZetBet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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