Manchester United are set to take on bottom feeders Fulham on matchday 16 of the 2018-19 Premier League on Saturday.
Manchester United will be aiming to get back to winning ways in the Premier League, when they face off against bottom-placed Fulham at the Old Trafford this weekend.
Jose Mourinho’s men are without a win in their last four league encounters (D3, L1). The Red Devils played out consecutive 2-2 draws against Southampton and Arsenal over the past week, following which find themselves in the eighth position in the table, eight points adrift of the Chelsea in the fourth spot.
Mourinho and Manchester United are under pressure to turn things around at the earliest and a clash against the bottom feeders this weekend should provide them the perfect opportunity to get their campaign back on track.
Fulham, on their return to the Premier League, find themselves stuck to the bottom of the standings after 15 matches, having picked up just two victories till date (D3, L10). Having sacked Slavisa Jokanovic, the Cottagers brought in Claudio Ranieri to spark a recovery last month.
Under the Italian, Fulham have won, lost and drawn one game apiece, with their latest encounter ending in a 1-1 stalemate against Leicester City earlier this week. Given Manchester United’s recent struggles at home, the Londoners will be looking at coming away with at least a point from Old Trafford on Saturday.
Ashley Young is back in contention for selection after having missed the Arsenal game due to suspension. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are carrying injuries, but are expected to be available for the weekend clash. Luke Shaw is expected to be fit after missing the midweek match with an injury. Victor Lindelof and Alexis Sanchez continue to remain unavailable, however.
Having fielded a three-man backline in his last two matches, Mourinho is likely to switch to 4-3-3 formation when Fulham come visiting on Saturday. David De Gea, who has kept just two clean sheets in the Premier League this term, is a certainty to feature in goal for Manchester United.
Young should walk right back into the team at right-back, replacing the young Diogo Dalot who made his full debut against Arsenal. On the opposite side, Shaw should return as well, with Matteo Darmian set to make way. Eric Bailly should start at the heart of the defence after his performance in the midweek. He is likely to be partnered by Smalling.
Paul Pogba, who was not involved from the start against the Gunners, is likely to feature from kick off against the Cottagers. Nemanja Matic is a guaranteed starter in the middle, with Ander Herrera expected to complete the three-man midfield for the home side.
Anthony Martial might not be risked from the start after he seemed to pick up an injury against Arsenal. Marcus Rashford is in line to be shifted out on the left flank, with Romelu Lukaku set to return as the centre-forward for United. On the right side, Jesse Lingard should continue to feature, ahead of Juan Mata.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Rashford;
Full-back Timothy Fosu-Mensah, on loan from Manchester United, will be ineligible to take the field against his parent club. Midfielder Kevin McDonald and forward Floyd Ayite are the other notable absentees for Ranieri’s side for their trip to Old Trafford.
On-loan Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico has established himself as the first-choice for Fulham ahead of Marcus Bettinelli and should feature on Saturday. Cyrus Christie, who has seen a recent upturn in form, should continue at right-back, while Maxime Le Marchand is set to hold on to his spot on the left side. Denis Odoi and Alfie Mawson will pair up at the centre.
Calum Chambers, on loan from Arsenal, has emerged as a key player in the middle of the park in past few games, and should continue in one of the two pivot positions. He will be partnered by summer signing Jean Michael Seri. Captain Tom Cairney, who missed the Leicester game, should resume duties as the No.10 for the Cottagers on Saturday.
Aboubakar Kamara was Fulham’s goalscorer in the midweek game and should be rewarded with another start out on the right wing, while teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon is a certainty on the opposite flank. Leading the line for the visitors at the weekend will be former Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Rico; Christie, Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand; Seri, Chambers; Kamara, Cairney, Sessegnon; Mitrovic;
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.80
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.57
1. Marouane Fellaini to score anytime @ 4.33
- Manchester United have won 21 of their 23 home matches against Fulham in all competitions.
- Fulham’s only victory at Old Trafford (3-1) came in the Premier League in October 2003.
- A defeat for the Red Devils would result in their lowest points tally after 16 matches of a Premier League campaign.
- Fulham’s tally of nine points after 15 league games is their joint-worst at this stage of a league season, level with 1993-94 in the third tier.
- Manchester United could draw four straight Premier League matches for the first time since 1992. They could also equal the club’s longest winless run versus promoted opposition of four games.
Player to Watch
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
After a disappointing display against BSC Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League last week, the academy graduate pulled Manchester United from the jaws of defeat at Southampton with a scintillating display. While he may not have scored a goal that day, he was the chief catalyst who sparked the turnaround for the Red Devils at the St. Mary’s.
Rashford wasn’t at his best in the midweek against Arsenal, but his pace and movement in attack caused a few problems for the Gunners. The United No.10 has shown great mental strength and determination in recent weeks to bounce back from a rather dull start to the campaign. But he will be looking to improve his tally of 2 goals and 3 assists when he takes the field on Saturday.
Manchester United 2-1 Fulham
Manchester United just can’t pick up a victory at the moment. With four Premier League matches without a win, the manager and the players are under serious pressure to set things right. They did show great spirit to come back from being a goal down on two occasions against Arsenal, but they need to take a step further and get back on track.
Fulham, too, are under the cosh at the moment. Sitting at the bottom of the table, the Cottagers need to spark a turnaround of fortune at the earliest, if they are to survive the relegation threat. Under Ranieri, there have been slight improvements as well, but it will take a serious effort on their part to cause an upset at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils may be a long way away from their best, but we at The Hard Tackle expect them to dispose off bottom-feeders Fulham on Saturday.