David Moyes is targeting more consistency from his Manchester United side as he seeks to close the gap to the top of the Premier League. After a difficult start to Moyes’s reign, United have now won three successive matches in all competitions. But United still lie in eighth place in the Premier League, eight points off the top, and Moyes is aware that the team needs to put in a run of results to get back in the frame to defend their title.
“It's a gap we have to try to work to get closer to," he said, according to the Daily Mirror. "We'll take one game at a time and try to start getting a bit closer to the top end. That's the plan but there's a long way to go.
“We've started to put together one or two half decent results and hopefully that starts to build a bit of momentum. We've been a little bit up and down at the start of the season, winning one, losing one, so we're hoping to get a bit more consistency and then our form follows with that."
Moyes will have a close to full-strength squad at his disposal for the trip to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. Danny Welbeck is still ruled out with a knee problem, but is nearing a return. Also on the comeback trail is Darren Fletcher. The midfielder has barely featured since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in December 2011, but started an Under-21 game earlier this week. Experienced center-back duo Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will be available at Craven Cottage after both made their return in Tuesday’s 4-0 Capital One Cup victory over Norwich.
While Moyes has faced some early criticism at Old Trafford, it is nothing compared to the pressure Martin Jol is currently under at Fulham. A poor performance in a 2-0 defeat to Southampton last week, followed by being dumped out of the League Cup at Championship side Leicester City has again led to talk that he could soon find himself out of a job. Jol, though, is confident that his team has the quality to move up the table from their current 14th position.
“We’ve got a few injuries but we’ve got a good enough team to come up with a result and at least stay in the league and get the results to get in a good position,” he said, according to Fulham’s website. “We are not bottom of the league -- I think one or two results again, like at Crystal Palace which was a great result, then we will be back in business.
“It’s the same all over in the Premier League; if you don’t get the results, people will be critical and my boys will know that we have to come up for the fans -- for them and for me as well -- so they will give 100 per cent.”
Jol will again be unable to call upon center-back Brede Hangeland on Saturday, while Hugo Rodallega will also be absent through injury.
Prediction: A much-changed side had a good win in midweek, but United’s victory over Stoke City last weekend was far from convincing. The team still lacks fluidity and is all too rigidly formulaic going forward, while the defense is far from secure. But, looking to build on the win, Moyes arguably couldn’t wish for better opponents. Fulham are a team with plenty of ability in the forward areas, but sorely lack any dynamism. United are unlikely to face undue pressure and should get the goals required to record a welcome comfortable win.
Fulham 0-2 Manchester United
Where to watch: The Premier League match will get underway at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.