Manchester United vs. Fulham preview: Lineup and predictions

Ryan Giggs celebrates his goal against Fulham

Authors: El Rob & Sleepy Nik

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With Fulham full of confidence after their 5-0 opening day win, and with United looking to kickstart the season after Monday’s defeat to Everton, tomorrow’s game should be an exciting, adrenaline-fueled affair. We won 1-0 against them at Old Trafford last season – not a classic performance, but one that was mostly comfortable, apart from the penalty that should’ve been but wasn’t given. However, that game was full of the profligacy that characterised the second half of 2011/12 for United – 21 shots, 9 on target, only one goal. Given Fulham’s own form in front of goal and our well-documented injury worries at the back, we should hope that our attackers are a bit more clinical with their chances this time around.

United have a pretty good record at home to the Cottagers, usually winning games 2-0 or 3-0. Their only points against us at home came via a shock 3-1 win in 2003. In fact, they haven’t scored at Old Trafford since opening day 2006… when United beat them 5-1 with a really fine display.

Saturday’s game is going to pose a very different challenge from the one Everton posed on Monday. Whereas Everton’s performance was physical and capitalized on their aerial advantage, Fulham generally like to keep it on the floor these days, especially since Bobby Zamora went to QPR in January. Last season their passing accuracy was just below Arsenal’s, at 82%, and they do have some technically gifted players like Moussa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz. Dembele is an especially tricky, creative player, who’s adapted well to a more central role in midfield that Martin Jol’s given him. Personally, I’m hoping that we can afford to put Carrick back into midfield, as the Carrick-Dembele battle was quite enjoyable in last season’s edition of the fixture. At the back, Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland are a very good partnership, but one which was interrupted by Hughes’ consistent injury problems last season.

After a fantastic Premier League debut, Mladen Petric is obviously a danger, with a penchant for spectacular goals and a powerful left-footed strike from distance- he’s also been the beneficiary of some wicked deflections in his career. Damien Duff has troubled our defence in the past (though mostly at Craven Cottage) – so Evra should be mindful of him when darting forward to support the attack.

As for United’s own lineup, one can only hope that we have two fit centre backs to choose from – though with Evans lacking match-fitness, this looks pretty unlikely, so we may see Michael Carrick lining up at the back again. Ferguson has also hinted that we may see Evra play next to Vidic, a position he did surprisingly well (ironically) at Fulham last December. His agility and anticipation help him in this regard. Rafael seems likely to return, so he could well be thrown in at left-back with new signing Alexander Büttner unlikely to be risked immediately. In midfield, I expect Tom Cleverley to start once again, though it’s less certain whether Sir Alex will give Scholesy two games in a row – possibly Giggsy (*shudder*) or the increasingly rotund Anderson could make up the numbers in the centre.

What we can expect..

Nik's predicted lineups for Fulham at home

United lined up with an adaptation of 4-3-3 on Monday night, with Kagawa playing slightly ahead of Scholes and Cleverley making it a 4-2-1-3 at times, and certainly a change in ethos by Sir Alex. We are likely to see something similar again vs. Fulham, especially given the chances that Valencia may have to fill in at right back again. Rooney should start despite his incongruous effort on Monday, and hopefully with van Persie in close attendance, the Duthcman can spark Wayne into life. It is expected that the sprightly Kagawa will start in the same position, perhaps in front of Cleverley and Carrick, which leaves Nani, Young and Welbeck competing for the final place. Considering our wealth of options in attacking areas, the front four is even harder to predict than ever.

An unfit Rooney and an out-of-sorts Nani were comfortably our two worst performers on Monday, so there’s a possibility that at least one will start this one from the bench. Rooney has been considered undroppable since Ronaldo’s departure, but it would be interesting to see whether this is still the case now that another world-class striker is on the books.

Stretford End would like to see van Persie start, and it will be interesting to see how he links up with creator, Kagawa. It would give good variety to our attacking play as well, since we’d have a combination of pace on the flanks with guile and movement in the middle. Hughes and Hangeland are susceptible to clever movement, so this might be a good matchup for us. Carrick’s presence in midfield should help combat a crowded middle, with Jol likely to drop Ruiz even deeper than usual, or indeed include Sidwell at his expense. Elsewhere, Valencia and Nani (or Young) will be hoping to get in behind Riise who is susceptible to positional indiscipline. A big response is required on Saturday, and thats’s the bottom line.

25 Comments on Manchester United vs. Fulham preview: Lineup and predictions

  1. Great preview fellas.

    Personally think/hope United will line up:

    DDG, Rafael, Keane, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Kagawa, RVP

    Interestingly, Jones, Rio and Evans all trained today

  2. That lineup looks weird as fellas. Pretty sure u won’t see Rafa playing left back, kagawa just infront of tc23 and carrick.

    This is what I’d like to see tomorrow – DDD
    Rafael, vidic, rio(I see he trained today) evra
    Valencia. Kagawa. Nani
    Van Persie

  3. I’d be hoping for the team that nameonthetrophy lists in the comments section.

    As for whoever came up with the side in the ‘What we can expect’ section – ha!

    Have you ever seen United play? Rafael at left-full? When has Fergie ever played him there? He doesn’t even trust him fully to play at right-back half the time – he’s hardly going to put him into an unfamiliar position!

  4. Good stuff lads.

    I’d rather see Evra at LB but possible he could play CB as he’s done it a few times before. Evans been training for 2 weeks now (unsure how long he’s been back training fully though), Rio trained today as did Jones but think this will be too early for him. I’d rather see Rio or Evans there than Evra and i’d love to see Michael Keane get the chance, not sure that will happen though.

  5. @Doron I like that lineup to be honest and after Wazzas’s performance against Everton which wasn’t bad but nothing great – he ‘SHOULD’ be dropped BUT Wayne Rooney is simply undroppable and we all know it.
    United fans need to be more positive about our team! 1 defeat and its like the end of the world. Come on lads! TC23 summed it up nicely on twitter the other day about “all the negative people and where’s the positivity?”
    I’m confident that whatever team Fergie puts out tomorrow can go and grab the 3 points. Come on United! Would love RVP to start as well.

  6. Hoping for:

    Valencia, Vidic, Rio, Evra
    Carrick, Cleverley
    Kagawa, Rooney, Young

    Young looked a lot better then Nani in the short time he played against Everton. Playing Rooney on the wing is a complete waste. Gotta move him into a CAM role. Plays a lot better when someone with talent is direct in front of him. I’d test Kagawa on the wing because of speed and ball control. As much as I like Valencia attacking he played well on the backline.

  7. I would like to see Rooney start on the bench.

    De Gea
    Rafael, Carrick, Vidic, Evra
    Valencia, Cleverly, Anderson, Nani

    Linds, Wooton, Buttner, Scholes, Young, Rooney, Welbeck

  8. in my opinion: De Gea – Rafael, Carrick, Vidic, Evra – Scholes, Cleverley – Valencia, Kagawa, Rooney – RVP

  9. Since when does Welbz wear Adidas boots??

    @ Doron erm, erm, erm. You love that word don’t you? Erm, is it even a word hmm…

  10. I like to see Kagawa, Rooney and Robin Van Persie starting for Manchester United game against Fulham at Old Trafford tomorrow in saturday’s game. I wouldnt like to see RVP dropping to the bench again like he did against Everton when he came on as sub and played only 20 mins and United lost the game so Van Persie should start and could be big difference if he has more chances in the pitch and score goal(s). United need to recover quickly and bounce back from shock monday’s defeat to Everton and beating Fulham could see them back on track and start in their winning ways but United will win the matches but it is too early days in the season and anything can happen in the early season. Lets hope United doesn’t flop again like they did against Everton?

  11. Obviously Rooney shouldn’t be undroppable but he’s Wayne Rooney and when he’s fit he is the first person I’d put down on my teamsheet…

  12. @ doron – I love seeing what boots players wear. Who else does? What’s wrong with that? Chill out dude…

  13. line up i would like to see:

  14. Probably… DDG… Rafa,vidic,evra,giggs… Carrick,ando,… Valencia,swaggawa,rooney… Rvp… According to what i understand from saf’s press confrence today.{i hope am wrong though!}

  15. I’m hoping for:

    Rafael – Vidic – Wootton – Evra
    Valencia – Carrick – Cleverley – Young
    van Persie

    Bench: Lindegaard, Buttner, Anderson, Giggs, Scholes, Hernandez, Welbeck

    Rooney and Nani shouldn’t even be near the team buss after last week. Honestly, they should be fined two weeks pay for that. They didn’t seem interested, they didn’t work and they didn’t care. Absolutely shocking.

  16. Think of evryone who played at EFC Nani is the one least deserving of a place. Rooney was poor, but Nani looked almost disinterested. RVP, Rooney and Kagawa for me must all play, along with Valencia a bit further forward. I expect sir Alex to shuffle at the back with whatever he’s got, but in truth it shouldn’t be about defence at home.

  17. I like 2 c DDG, rafeal,vidic, carrick, evra, valencia, kagawa, scholes, nani, rooney, rvp. In the starting lineup 2moro.

  18. Watching MUFC vs Fulham at CC on MUTV from a couple seasons ago. Was one of the few times I’ve seen Wayne Rooney start on the bench…along with Ronaldo. Tevez and Saha started that day which will most prob be remembered for that great Hargreaves freekick – his first United goal! Fuck I miss Hargreaves! When he was fit he was an unreal midfielder to have on your team. What a beast he was that lad. Wonder when he’ll sign for a club sometime soon…looks as if he’s not training with Qpr anynore.
    Ando and Nani both started that day as well. They’ve been at the club for quite along time now and long may it continue. Love those lads! Will never forget the day we signed both of them! Never buzzed so much from a transfer before…

    On another note, just watched the presser from this morning. Was funny whhen Buttner was asked about his ambitions and goals and what he wanted to achieve at United – his answer was completeely off the point lol. He talked about his game, what he likes to do, what he’s good at, crossing, assisting and getting forward lol. Bless him. Looks like a decent lad. Not arrogant or anything like that. Quite lad. Good luck to him. Can only be a good thing for our squad.

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