There are those of us old enough to remember the days when a trip to Fulham was a daunting affair. In fact, Fulham were considered to be something of a bogey team for United especially at Craven Cottage. However, that period has well and truly expired and been consigned to the dustbin of history as United have been imperious away from home this season, having beaten most of their top six rivals on their own grounds. There was also some very good news for United yesterday regarding an old boy.
Dimitar Berbatov is out of the game with a hamstring injury. That gives United a distinct advantage, as Fulham have not only built their team around the mercurial Bulgarian, but rely on his hold up play and goals more and more as the season progresses. Whilst it is dangerous to use previous games to proffer a prediction for a current match, there was enough evidence in United`s 4-1 trouncing of Fulham in the FA Cup recently to suggest that today`s game should be easier than most.
As if th underline the differences in the teams` fortunes of late, Fulham have Steve Sidwell, Mahamadou Diarra, Kerim Frei and Kieran Richardson all out injured. Those are the backbone of the side. Whilst United have Rio Ferdinand back in contention and Johnny Evans is now back in full training. Only Ashley Young is still out with a knee problem, so Sir Alex has players for every position with cover for any injuries or any other combinations he might want.
This match is a later kick off than the main programme and is being televised by ESPN at 17.30 GMT. With Wayne Rooney hitting the goal trail again, I expect that Sir Alex will train his strongest side on Fulham to ensure maximum points. My suggested line up is De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Cleverley, Carrick, Kagawa, Valencia, Rooney, Van Persie. The only possible change could be Welbeck for Valencia.
I am expecting a convincing win here today by at least 2 goals.