Fulham vs Manchester United
Oh yes, I truly believe it.
The midweek Premier League clash may feature sides in contrasting positions – Fulham are in 18th place and Manchester United are the leaders (although that could have changed by the time this kicks-off) – but they are two teams in form and that suggests this could be a really close and exciting contest.
And with both in desperate need of the points for very different reasons, I am expecting Premier League highlights down by the Thames.
Fulham have only lost one in their past nine; in that time taking points off Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Liverpool with their sole recent defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea, the latter in the West London derby last time out when they had to play for an hour with 10 men in a performance which filled boss Scott Parker with pride.
Indeed, the impressive young manager may be justified in thinking that his side would have got something out of that game had they kept 11 men on the pitch.
The red card shown to Antonee Robinson on Saturday means he will be suspended for this one as part of a three-match ban, with Joe Bryan set to deputise on the left.
Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic should be available again, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is back in contention after being forced to sit out against his parent club.
They may remain in the drop zone but newly-promoted Fulham have really improved of late and only City have scored more than one goal past Alphonse Areola in their last eight Premier League matches.
The change in form is reflected in the starting line-up. Harrison Reed was the only player in the starting XI against Chelsea who was on the pitch for the first whistle against Arsenal on the opening day.
The Cottagers can also point to the fact that Tosin Adarabioyo, Joachim Andersen, Ademola Lookman and Loftus-Cheek were unable to play a game until October.
While Fulham have only lost one of their past nine, United have not been beaten in the league since the start of November and have even emerged as outside title hopefuls – albeit the campaign is not quite at the halfway stage yet.
That scenario, which seemed highly unlikely just a short month ago, gathered momentum when they drew at reigning champions Liverpool on Sunday and Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Eric Bailly and Alex Telles will be among the visiting players pushing for a start after missing out on a starting berth at Anfield.
Captain Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and talisman Bruno Fernandes may be just one booking away from an automatic ban it will be a surprise if at least two of them don’t start.
Should they be cautioned at the Cottage, they’ll miss next Wednesday’s clash with Sheffield United at Old Trafford.
As a footnote, the one-match Premier League suspension threshold rises from five to 10 yellows after this game.
Bookings won’t be at the forefront of players’ minds in this one though; not with such important points at stake.
It was in 1905 that Fulham and Manchester United first met.
The FA Cup tie, at United’s then Bank Street, Clayton ground, ended 2-2, while the replay at Craven Cottage finished goalless.
Ultimately, a second replay, played at Villa Park, was won 1-0 by Fulham – all the ties were played within 10 days.
They never actually met in the league until 1922 when the sides shared a 1-1 draw in Division Two.
United, with 51 triumphs overall to Fulham’s 14 victories (and 19 draws), have very much had the edge in the Premier League era, including eight wins and one draw in their last nine clashes.
Fulham last beat United in December 2009. A 3-0 victory when the visitors were in the middle of a defensive injury crisis and Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff made the then champions pay.
That score was reversed in their last meeting 23 months ago when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the interim boss at United – Paul Pogba (two) and Anthony Martial the scorers.
|Fulham vs Manchester United||Over 2.75 @ 1.93|
|January 21, 04:15 (GMT+8)|
The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds fancy United 1X2 @ 1.53 and Fulham @ 6.00 with the draw at a very appealing @ 4.00.
With Asian Handicap odds, United can be backed -1.25 @ 2.20 and Fulham +0.75 @ 2.28.
A repeat of their last meeting two seasons ago – Correct Score 0-3 – is on offer @ 12.00.
I do think there will be goals in this one.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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