What: English Premier League
Who: Fulham vs Manchester United
When: Sunday 22nd August, 2010, at 16:00 UK Time
Where: Craven Cottage, Fulham, England

Finding Confidence Under Mark Hughes

With Roy Hodgson jumping ship to Anfield to take over from Rafael Benitez, Fulham have been left with the challenge of rediscovering their reputable steel under new manager Mark Hughes. Pre-season wasn’t particularly enjoyable for the Cottagers, who managed just two wins in six matches, making their unimpressive 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers in their opening match unsurprising. The departure of such an influential figure from the club has surely taken its toll on the players, which makes facing Premier League heavyweights Manchester United so early in the season that much more challenging.

With the Fulham side that made it to the Europa League final last season still largely intact, and with the Craven Cottage crowd behind them however, the Cottagers will still be fully capable of punishing the visitors should they make the mistake of turning up with less than 100% motivation.

Determined for Revenge

Manchester United’s defensive frailties were exposed in the same fixture last season, with the Red Devils completely embarrassed after a convincing 3-0 Fulham victory. The defeat proved to be a massive blow to United, who ended up losing out to Chelsea by just a single point in the title race, which consequently denied the club the chance of winning a record fourth consecutive Premier League title.

The memory of losing at Craven Cottage is certainly still fresh in the minds of the Man Utd players, ensuring Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will not be lacking in desire to set things straight on Sunday. With last season’s defensive injury crisis no longer a problem, aside from Rio Ferdinand’s ongoing struggle to return to fitness, the Red Devils are looking poised to continue their strong start to the 2010/11 season.


Recent form

Portsmouth 1-0 Fulham (31/07; Friendly)
Fulham 5-1 Werder Bremen (07/08; Friendly)
Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Fulham (14/08; Premier League)

Manchester United:
Guadalajara Chivas 3-2 Manchester United (31/07; Friendly)
Chelsea 1-3 Manchester United (08/08; Friendly)
Manchester United 3-0 Newcastle United (16/08; Premier League)

Key absences

Fulham: Paul Konchesky (doubt); Mark Schwarzer (doubt); Diomansy Kamara; Philippe Senderos; Andrew Johnson

Manchester United: Owen Hargreaves; Rio Ferdinand; Anderson; Patrice Evra (doubt)

Players to watch

Fulham – Bobby Zamora: Coming of a remarkable 2009/10 season, where he showed amazing ability in leading Fulham’s line, Bobby Zamora will likely be Fulham’s most dangerous threat to Manchester United. Extremely skilled in the air, and with a real ability to hold up play, the former West Ham United man will be key to the Cottagers’ chances.

Manchester United – Paul Scholes: The evergreen midfield maestro has proven age has not diminished his uncanny ability to spread the ball and pick out his team-mates from unimaginable distances and angles. Deservedly named Man of the Match in United’s last two games, expect Paul Scholes to be dictating play once again at Craven Cottage.

Match prediction

Being only the second round of fixtures in the Premier League, Fulham will have had little time to fully adapt to new manager Mark Hughes. And with Manchester United, complete with an almost full strength backline, looking more motivated than ever to claim the title, the Cottagers will find it difficult to repeat last season’s famous victory. The Red Devils will prove too much this time around, with a 2-0 triumph a likely result.