Fulham must be defeated if United want the title
As everyone must be aware, the pressures of life can often catch up in whatever you do and time can sometimes run away from you. And so it was with writing something on this site for the Fulham visit to Old Trafford on Saturday. Rather than completely ignore a crucial game which can have a huge bearing on the title race, we are reproducing a preview by John Ley in The Telegraph, one of the most respected newspapers in the UK.
Ley writes that “Manchester United beat Chelsea 1-0 with a Wayne Rooney goal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final. But Rooney is banned for the visit of Fulham so Javier Hernandez or Dimitar Berbatov will start.
United return to the business of securing the Premier League title and, in Fulham, they face opposition they are rarely troubled by at Old Trafford. In nine Premier League games at home United have won eight and losing just once – in October 2003.
Indeed, in the last 15 league meetings at Old Trafford United have won 14. And overall, in 31 visits, Fulham have won twice and lost 26. This season United have scored 68 goals, the most in the table and more than double Fulham’s 36. But they have conceded almost the same; United have let in 32 while Fulham have been beaten on 33 times.
And between them they have kept 24 clean sheets (United 13, Fulham 11). United are the only team yet to lose at home; their last league loss at Old Trafford was a year ago – April 3, 2010 – against Chelsea. Since then they have gone 17 games without loss, winning 16, drawing one and taking 49 points from a possible 51.
By contrast Fulham arrive with one away win this season, at Stoke, and 11 points from a possible 45. Fulham beat Blackpool 3-0 on Sunday; if they win again it will be the first time in 43 games that they will have won consecutive games.
United hope to have Rio Ferdinand available after the defender returned at Stamford Bridge. And Jonny Evans and Paul Scholes are available after suspension. But Owen Hargreaves, Darren Fletcher, John O’Shea, Anders Lindegaard and Fabio are all missing. Fulham have a doubt over Damien Duff while Philippe Senderos is still missing.
Stat of the game: Fulham have failed to score in their last three league visits to Old Trafford.
Possible line ups
United – Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs; Park; Hernandez.
Fulham – Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido; Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey; Zamora, Dembele.
Will anything but three points be sufficient for United?