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Manchester United vs Fulham: Preview

After an imperious display in the Champions League against AC Milan, it’s back to the bread and butter of the Premier League as Fulham make the trip up north to face Manchester United, a team they inflicted a 3-0 drubbing to, in December.

Confidence will surely be sky-high following the 4-0 victory over Milan and Wayne Rooney will be looking to add to his 30 goal tally this season. The omens are good for United as Fulham have only won once at Old Trafford in 47 years, that was a 3-1 victory in 2003.

Edwin van der Sar will again start as goalkeeper. The Dutchman will have the reunited centre-back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in front of him, something the Serb is delighted about and commenting on the partnership,

He stated: “We understand each other – he knows how I will react in certain situations and it’s the same the other way round.”

It is inevitable Patrice Evra will start at left-back and Gary Neville at right-back following impressive midweek showings. Wes Brown is out with a broken bone in his foot and John O’Shea is no nearer a first-team comeback.

After a couple of matches with a five-man midfield, Sir Alex Ferguson should revert back to a more familiar four-man set-up with Michael Carrick returning to the line-up following his European suspension. Darren Fletcher should be beside him giving Paul Scholes a well earned rest. Antonio Valencia was one of the star performers on Wednesday and will retain his place on the right side. Ji-Sung Park was immense during the week and has earning an opportunity to replicate his European form in the League.

Sir Alex will have to do without Anderson who is out for the season with a knee injury, in addition, Owen Hargreaves’ comeback has been delayed yet again, and despite returning to training this week Ryan Giggs is still nursing a broken arm and will not feature.

Wayne Rooney is the man of the moment; so expect another goal or two from the world’s most potent striker. Partnering Wazza will be Bulgarian superstar, Dimitar Berbatov. Still trying to win over some fans, he has shown in recent weeks the kind of player he can be with a number of standout performances.

Ferguson was full of praise for Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, tipping him for the England manager job once Fabio Capello steps down,

“Roy Hodgson has great experience, the kind of experience you need in international management. He would be ideal for that type of thing”.

He continued by calling for calm in the weekends match following the victory over AC Milan:

“Our performance level was good. The minute we scored the second goal it became better and in fairness I think that goal knocked the stuffing out of them and there wasn’t really a way back after that.

So, of course, it was a fantastic result for us, but as I said we need to calm ourselves down a little bit.”

Fulham boast a team beaten in one of their last six league matches and one that trounced United at Craven Cottage earlier this season. February manager of the month Roy Hodgson will no doubt have a well organized unit at Old Trafford and one that have February’s player of the month Mark Schwarzer among its ranks.

One man to watch out for is Danny Murphy; the former Liverpool player has a knack of scoring against United, though has a slight groin problem. Bobby Zamora has eight league goals this season and is the Cottagers’ leading scorer, while Damien Duff is enjoying a new lease of life with the London club.

John Pantsil has a knee injury and Kagisho Dikgacoi is doubtful with an ankle complaint.

Some comfort can be taken from the fact that Fulham have not won away since the opening weekend victory against Portsmouth and United have went over 10 hours since they last conceded at home.

Prediction: 3-1 United

Probable Line Up: van der Sar, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Neville; Valencia, Carrick, Fletcher, Park; Berbatov, Rooney


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