Manchester United travel to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham side who have two wins and two defeats from their four home Premier League fixtures this season. It is a must-win for United who have suffered back-to-back 3-0 home defeats and the pressure is mounting on manager Erik ten Hag. Last Word on Football takes a look at where the game might be decided from a tactical perspective and offers a prediction for Fulham vs Manchester United in the lunchtime kick-off.
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It is anticipated that the first-choice forward players will be back in the team this weekend after being rested in the Carabao Cup defeat to Newcastle. Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund have just one Premier League goal between them this campaign and are under intense scrutiny from the fans to improve their output to help Manchester United out of this current slump.
Fulham have not kept a clean sheet in six outings and will be without Issa Diop this weekend. They are not as robust a unit at the back as Marco Silva would like them to be and can be prone to lapses in concentration defensively, as evidenced by their conceding three goals from penalties after just 11 games.
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The home side averages over 60% possession at home in league outings and may expect to see much of the ball, leaving the away side with ample opportunities to hit on the break and that is where the underperforming duo may shine.
Rashford has not hit the heights of last season but will fancy his chances up against Timothy Castagne and whoever replaces Diop at right-centre back while Hojlund’s work rate could terrorise the centre-backs. It can be expected that his runs in behind will be a nightmare for captain Tim Ream to deal with throughout the entire 90 minutes.
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There are many weaknesses in this Manchester United side, but the absence of Casemiro could be a major issue here. Fulham have an industrial make-up of their midfield, headed by the impressive Joao Palhinha. The Portuguese midfielder is in excellent form and scored in the 1-1 draw with Brighton last weekend. He will be tasked with keeping the opponents’ key creative spark, Bruno Fernandes, quiet throughout the ninety minutes.
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Assuming he is successful in keeping his countryman from dictating the game in the middle, Casemiro’s attacking threat from deep positions will be missed due to injury, as he is a key component of Ten Hag’s side opening up attacking avenues in games where the forwards are struggling. Scott McTominay has impressed in this role at times but he may have his hands full trying to stop the home side from dominating the ball alongside Sofyan Amrabat sitting in midfield.
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It is going to take an enormous level of work-rate to keep this Fulham side at bay, and this is not an attribute that is bestowed upon the majority in this group of Manchester United players. The manager will be hoping he can motivate his players to deliver a performance, as his job could well depend on it.
Fulham vs Manchester United Prediction
It is difficult to predict this one as there is little evidence to suggest that the Red Devils are anywhere close to turning a corner under Ten Hag. The problems seem to be mounting on and off the pitch and it is hard to see where a performance is going to come from with some of the starting players woefully out of form.
Fulham have been solid despite lacking a forward player to score goals since the departure of Aleksander Mitrovic. They progressed to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup in midweek and will be confident of picking up a result here.
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Manchester United have won the last six games at Craven Cottage but may have to settle for a draw here. Their confidence is on the floor at the moment so avoiding defeat will be the objective here.