Manchester United v Fulham - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Sunday 9th February 2014 at 16:00. Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.

Odds: Manchester United 2/9, Draw 6/1, Fulham 16/1

Last season: 3-2

Preview & injury news

Both sides could do with a win in this game but it's fair to say Manchester United to go into this as hot favourites. With their top four rivals facing difficult games this weekend, United will need a win in order to either bridge or maintain that seven point gap they currently have to the Champions League places. Ever since their four game winning run at the end of 2013, they have been inconsistent by winning one week and losing the next in the league. Fulham are in retched form which sees them sit rock bottom of the table ahead of Rene Meulensteen's return to Old Trafford. They've lost each of their last four games, and here they start a difficult run of games as they currently sit four points adrift of safety, and an extra time defeat to Sheffield United in the FA Cup hasn't helped matters for the Cottagers.

On the injury front, Manchester United are still without a couple of centre halves. Phil Jones suffered concussion in the defeat against Stoke City, whilst Jonny Evans limped off in the same game with a calf injury. This means Chris Smalling and the outgoing Nemanja Vidic will start at the heart of the defence. Winger Nani is still sidelined with a hamstring injury, but there is a chance that Rio Ferdinand could return from a knee injury - whilst Marouane Fellani could be available to selection after a wrist injury.

For Fulham, Kieran Richardson could make a return from an ankle injury to face his old club whilst Sascha Riether could also return from a calf problem. If he does he might not get the best of receptions from the Old Trafford crowd after his stamp on Adnan Januzaj in the reverse fixture. John Arne Riise is likely to miss out with a hamstring injury, Neil Etheridge has a thigh problem whilst Matthew Briggs has a groin problem. 

Key stats

Here are the two sides top scorers in the Premier League this season:

Wayne Rooney Man Utd FW 9 19 1,576
Robin van Persie Man Utd FW 9 13 1,053
Danny Welbeck Man Utd FW 8 17 1,141
Steve Sidwell Fulham MF 5 24 2,010
Dimitar Berbatov Fulham FW 4 18 1,568
Pajtim Kasami Fulham MF 3 22 1,467

Their average possession statistics: 

NamePossession PercentageGames
Manchester United 54.46 24
NamePossession PercentageGames
Fulham 45.33 24

And the amount of clean sheets they have kept so far this season:

NameClean SheetGames
Manchester United 7 24
NameClean SheetGames
Fulham 3 24

5 players to watch

Robin Van Persie - Van Persie has looked in pretty decent form since his return from injury, having scored in both appearances. Against a side that has only kept three clean sheets, do not be surprised if the Dutchman appears on the scoresheet yet again.

Johnny Heitinga - Fulham have been leaking goals all season, and Heitinga has been brought in to try to improve that situation. The Cottagers haven't had a lot to cheer about this season, but a solid defensive performance from their new signing should give them cause for some hope.

Chris Smalling - There seems to be several injuries at centre-back for Manchester United at the moment, and Smalling is likely to start at the heart of the defence. Can he help plug the leak that is leading to United conceding so many crucial goals this season?

Konstantinos Mitroglou - Another Fulham man making his debut, and he wasn't the cheapest of signings. So Fulham will be hoping Mitroglou has plenty of goals for his side for the rest of the season. There's no better place for him to start banging them in for his new side than at Old Trafford.

Juan Mata - Mata seemed to give the club a bit of a lift when he arrived at Manchester United, and has showcased his qualities in flashes in his two games so far. As Fulham may set up to try and be as solid as possible at Old Trafford, Mata may be the man to unlock the door.

Earlier on in the season 

Fulham 1-3 Manchester United, November 2013

It was a comfortable afternoon for Manchester United as they dispatched Fulham with ease and were able to take their foot off the gas. Wayne Rooney's cutback allowed Antonio Valencia to put the visitors ahead and they didn't have long to wait until Robin Van Persie doubled their lead. Wayne Rooney tapped in to make it three at the midway point in the first half as United never looked like losing, heaping more pressure on Martin Jol. Alex Kacaniklic pulled one back for Fulham midway through the first half as Fulham tried to restore some pride, and Darren Bent hit the crossbar, but the points belonged to United.

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