MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 15:51:50

Preview: Fulham vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Premier League encounter between Fulham and Manchester United.

Manchester United make the trip to West London to face Fulham knowing that victory will be enough to move into fourth place in the Premier League table.

Fulham play host to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's in-form side sitting in the relegation zone and seven points adrift of safety.


Fulham

Claudio Ranieri in charge of Fulham on November 24, 2018© Reuters

Many perceived Fulham's comeback victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at the end of January to potentially be the turning point in the club's season, but last weekend's defeat to Crystal Palace has halted their momentum.

Claudio Ranieri would have regarded the short trip to Selhurst Park as an opportunity to move back within touching distance of their rivals above them, but the 2-0 setback has left Fulham well adrift of safety.

There are still 13 games to be played but with United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all to come before the end of March, Ranieri will know that survival is becoming an increasingly difficult task.

Fulham have a favourable run of fixtures from the start of April, but Ranieri is aware that he needs to put the club in a position where three or four wins from their last half-a-dozen outings can make a difference.

Ranieri has witnessed his team register eight points from their last eight games in the top flight - a respectable effort given that there are a number of teams in the Premier League who are averaging below a point per match - but four setbacks in five have put the team on the back foot.

Clean sheets have proven to be a problem all season, but Fulham have also struggled for goals, with the four strikes against Brighton representing the only time that more than one goal has been netted in a top-flight game since the start of December.

Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle have 16 goals between them, but they will require help from their teammates if Fulham are to have any chance of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship.

However, Ryan Babel and Lazar Markovic were both added to the squad in January, and Ranieri will hope that the duo can produce the kind of form which once tempted Liverpool into paying big money for each of their signatures.

Recent form: WLLLWL
Recent form (all competitions): LLLLWL


Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds during the FA Cup third-round game between Manchester United and Reading on January 5, 2019© Reuters

United have not always shown their clinical side in recent weeks, and that was the case as the North-West giants registered a 1-0 victory away at Leicester City last weekend.

However, Solskjaer will be delighted that his squad of players are showing the character to come through tight games after a number of free-flowing performances shortly after his appointment.

United have only really produced their best form in the FA Cup win over Arsenal, but Solskjaer remains with nine triumphs and a draw to his name after replacing Jose Mourinho in December.

The win over Leicester on Sunday was all the more impressive given that United held onto a one-goal lead for 81 minutes plus added-on time, and the Foxes were not short of opportunities at the King Power Stadium.

Solskjaer will want to see the defence and midfield work harder in order to reduce the number of chances which are being created, but keeping a shutout in such circumstances was ideal preparation ahead of the games which are to come during February.

A triple-header of Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Liverpool follows Saturday's match against Fulham, although the focus will remain on trying to add another three points to their Premier League tally with Chelsea and Arsenal faltering around them.

Chelsea's trip to Manchester City this weekend leaves the door open for United to leapfrog the Blues into fourth position and land a psychological blow ahead of their cup showdown at Stamford Bridge on February 18.

United have managed to score in their last 16 outings in all competitions, and given Fulham's concerns at both ends of the pitch, it would come as a surprise if the Solskjaer bandwagon has not generated more speed come 2.30pm on Saturday.

Recent form: WWWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWDW


Team News

Anthony Martial in action for Manchester United on August 19, 2018© Reuters

Solskjaer is likely to have one eye on the clash with PSG, and that could lead to Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku both being handed starts at Craven Cottage.

Alexis Sanchez could retain his place despite a below-par display last weekend, while Fred is a potential inclusion in the centre of midfield.

Diogo Dalot and Phil Jones are also options for Solskjaer at the back, and Chris Smalling could feature in the 18-man squad after recovering from a foot injury.

Schurrle may be available after missing the trip to Palace with a knock, while Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa could be back in contention after an ankle problem.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah is unable to play against his parent club, but Markovic may be on the bench after a week training with his new club.

Cyrus Christie remains a huge doubt, while Alfie Mawson is a long-term absentee.

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Rico; Odoi, Le Marchand, Ream, Bryan; Chambers, Seri, Cairney; Babel, Mitrovic, Sessegnon

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Fred, Herrera; Sanchez, Pogba, Martial; Lukaku


Head To Head

Saturday's encounter will represent the 84th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with United recording 50 wins in comparison to just 14 victories for Fulham.

The Cottagers have a desperately poor record against United since 2004, with just two successes and three draws being registered during that period.

United have prevailed in eight of the last nine contests in all competitions.


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We say: Fulham 1-4 Manchester United

We feel that Fulham will give a good account of themselves this weekend, but United's style of play is perfect for away fixtures and we expect Solskjaer's side to register a convincing victory at Craven Cottage.


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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Fulham and Manchester United?

Fulham
Draw
Manchester United
Fulham
12.0%
Draw
2.4%
Manchester United
85.5%
Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring for Manchester United on December 1, 2018
Read Next:
Romelu Lukaku's record vs. Fulham
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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