Match Preview: Manchester United vs Fulham

Manchester United have been buoyed by the return to training of Jonny Evans, but are still without Ashley Young whose knee hasn’t healed up yet. Otherwise, SAF has a healthy squad to pick from. The 2-1 win over Southampton three days ago extended their lead at the top of the pile to 7 points and they could go 10 points clear, at least for 24 hours, if they come out with a victory this evening.

Wayne Rooney is on a hot streak at the moment. His brace against the Saints were his 11th and 12th goals of the season and with RVP partnering him upfront, goals are a certainty. The Dutchman has been exceptional this season, with 22 goals and a truckload of assists to his name already.

The EPL top scorer failed to find the net on Wednesday, but will be expected to find the net tonight. His 10 away goals this season is a league high. The Red Devils have won 8 away games already this season, more than nay other side in the Division.

Both sides met just a week ago at Old Trafford in the F.A Cup and Manchester United cam out on top in a pretty one-sided affair. The Cottagers will be hoping to make life difficult for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men this evening.

The Red Devils are on a spectacular run at the moment. They have forgotten how to lose domestically and will be heavy favourites going into this one. Although recent visits to the Cottage haven’t been fruitful, the last one there ended in a whitewash for the home side as the League leaders ran out comfortable 5-0 winners.

Sir Alex said in his press conference that Rio will start and Jonny Evans has returned to training. In the build -up to this game, Wayne Rooney came out to say he has handed over spot-kick duties to RVP since he has imbibed the habit of missing more than he scores.

Missing 10 out of 27 penalties is unacceptable and that had to be put right. Good decision from the Englishman.

Martin Jol is faced with yet another misery on his hands. The daunting task of defeating a Fergie-managed team has reared its ugly head again. But his managerial impetus will be a total waste if he doesn’t try to end the horrendous run his teams have against Manchester United.

Easier said than done as the Red Army are marching magnificently at the moment. Football is no mathematics though. One bad day in the office and boom, things become awkward.

Fulham won for the 1st time in 8 games on Wednesday, putting the Hammers to the sword 3-1 at the Cottage with former Manchester United striker, Dimitar Berbatov among the scorers. He pulled his hamstring during the match and will play no part in proceeding today which is a huge blow to his team’s chances of taking anything from this encounter. Mladen Petric or Hugo Rodallega will be called upon to fill the vacuum.

New signings, Eyong Enoh on loan from Ajax, Stanislav Manolev from PSV, and Urby Emmanuelson from AC Milan are available but Eyong and Stanislav are ineligible because of work permit issues. However, the Dutch import from Milan is most likely to make his debut.

Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong who also made the loan switch to West London will be in the squad, but might not be in the starting line-up.

 

PROBABLE LINEUPS:

FULHAM: The Cottagers are still without Diarra, Frei, Sidwell and Richardson.

Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Dejagah, Karagounis, Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Emmanuelson, Petric/Hugo.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED: Ashley Young will play no part, Jonny Evans just returned to training and has to make do with a place on the bench.

DDG, Rafa, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley/Anderson, Nani/Valencia, Kagawa, Rooney, RVP.

 

Written by Ohireime Eboreime

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FA Cup Preview: Manchester United vs Fulham

Bulgarian superstar, Dimitar Berbatov returns to his old stomping ground this evening as his Fulham team take on former employers, Manchester United in an F.A Cup 4th Round tie that has the makings of a tasty encounter. It’s been 10 whole years since a Junichi Inamoto inspired Cottagers inflicted a painful loss on the Red Army. They wouldn’t mind another victory later this evening.

Fulham boss, Martin Jol holds the unenviable record of NEVER recording a win in all competitions against Sir Alex Ferguson. It hurts the Dutchman when he’s reminded of that by pressmen every time it is Manchester United he next faces. He will go all out tonight in the hope that he snatches his first win over the Red Devils and it will be even more pleasing at the Theatre of Dreams.

The likes of Giorgos Karagounis, John Arne Riise, Bryan Ruiz, Hugo Rodallega, Steve Sidwell, Brade Hangeland, and DIMITAR BERBATOV will be motivated as ever to send Manchester United out of the Cup and qualify for the 5th Round.

Easier said than done as they are aware of how daunting a task it is to beat Manchester United, talk more of doing it on their home turf.

The Red Devils, just back from their 4 day break in Doha-Qatar, are raring to go. Still reeling from the last gasp equaliser they conceded at the Lane six days ago, the team will want to put things right today vs the men from West London.

 

David De Gea was heavily criticised for being at fault for Clint Dempsey’s goal on Saturday, but will be expected to keep his place this evening except Fergie wants to reshuffle the pack with one eye on Southampton on Wednesday.

Sir Alex was absent from the trip to the far east. He stayed back to attended Celtic Legend, Sean Fallon’s Funeral and tie up the deal to bring Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United; goals he achieved with distinction. The Ivory Coast born attacker is heading to Old Trafford in July after an agreement was reached with present club, Crystal Palace on Friday.

The Red Devils have both form and history on their side as they haven’t lost in two months and sit atop the EPL table with a 5-point cushion over Manchester City. The F.A Cup is a different kettle of fish as it springs surprises season after season.

 

PROBABLE LINE UPS

MANCHESTER UNITED

SAF will be without Darren Fletcher (out for the season), Jonny Evans (hamstring) and Ashley Young (knee). Asides these, he has a full squad to choose from, but might rest one of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic who have to be used wisely as very important fixtures come along in the next couple of weeks.

Lindegaard/DDG, Rafa/Jones, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner, Carrick, Scholes, Valencia, Nani, Kagawa/Rooney, RVP.

 

FULHAM

Dutchman, Jol will be without the services of Simon Davies (neck), Kerim Frei (groin) and Mahamadou Diarra who is still recuperating. Others have been passed fit with a clean bill of health.

Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Richardson, Duff, Karagounis, Sidwell, Kacaniklic, Ruiz, BERBATOV.

 

Written by Ohireime Eboreime

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