Manchester United will travel to Craven Cottage in London on Saturday Feb. 2 to take on hosts Fulham in an English Premier League contest. United will be trying to extend their lead in the league to 10 points over cross town rivals Manchester City, who face Liverpool the next day.
United leads the league with 59 points from 19 wins, two draws and three losses while Fulham is in 12th place with 28 points from seven wins, seven draws and 10 losses. United have scored 59 goals and allowed 31 while Fulham has managed 36 goals for and 41 against. They’re also just eight points above the relegation zone while United has a seven point lead on second-place Manchester City and a healthy 13-point cushion over third-place Chelsea.
United beat Fulham handily last weekend in the FA Cup 4-1 at Old Trafford, but struggled against Southampton in a 2-1 home win on Wednesday. Fulham managed to beat West Ham 3-1 in mid week in a big London derby. The win against West Ham was important for manager Martin Jol as a loss against the Hammers could have seen him sacked.
Fulham weakened themselves in the summer when they let Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele leave even though they did bring in Mladen Petric, Alex Kaciniklic, and Dmitar Berbatov. They were then hurt when Bryan Ruiz was injured and have been struggling after a decent start to the season. They have to face a tough United team that has lost just once in their past dozen games.
United has beaten Fulham three times in their past six visits to Craven Cottage and have earned a draw while losing the other two. Their last visit their ended up in a 5-0 win for them though. It looks like manager Alex Ferguson might have to do without winger Ashley Young and defender Jonny Evans, but that won’t be known until kickoff.
Jol has tried to add some depth by bringing in midfielder Emanuel Frimpong on loan from Arsenal. He also signed AC Milan’s midfielder Urby Emanuelson during the transfer window. However, Fulham will be without former Man United striker Berbatov for the match as he’s got a hamstring injury. Also missing will be Kieran Richardson. The absence of Berbatov will be the biggest blow for Jol though as he leads the team with eight goals and has the skills to cause problems for the United defenders.
This means Fulham will need a big match out of Ruiz. He’s a good player, but has picked up a few injuries this season. United will of course be depending on Robin van Persie to find the net again. He leads the league with 18 goals and Ferguson also has Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, and Danny Welbeck to choose from as striking options.
Fulham looked hopeless against United last week in their 4-1 loss. They’re at home this time around though, but without Berbatov, so look for another United victory here.
Bet365 has the latest odds of a Fulham win at 5/1 with a Man United victory at 8/13 and a draw at 13/5