And so the second fixture of the season is upon us. Having lost the first over at Goodison Park by the narrowest of margins, Sir Alex Ferguson will be keen to brush aside Fulham to get those first, and vital, three points on the board. But Fulham will be no pushover having shown they can put on a performance having won their first game of the new campaign emphatically beating Norwich City 5-0. It promises to be an enthralling encounter.
Ryan Giggs, who has yet to really feature this season, although we`re only one game in to it to be fair, has spoken about the acquisition of the one player many United supporters feel could be the one to wrestle that Premier League title back from Manchester City – Robin Van Persie, commenting about the Dutch striker,
“It sends out a big message.”
“I`m biased but players should want to come to United because you`re always guaranteed to be up there challenging for trophies, there`s a great team spirit, top facilities and you get to play for a great manager.”
Will Van Persie get a start against Fulham? Will he get that vital first United goal? I guess all will become clear this Saturday afternoon.
United Team News:
Having lost that first game of the season, albeit with a patched up back-four, matters won`t have improved by the time Fulham arrive. Sir Alex Ferguson has already stated that the injured central defensive trio of Ferdinand, Jones, and Smalling will not have recovered from injury in time, but the latest news suggests that having trained all week, Jonny Evans will be able to return to partner Vidic at centre back.
However, we do expect changes to be made. Van Persie only appeared as a substitute on Monday evening and we expect him to start on Saturday, although who will make way remains a subject of discussion. The tabloid press is also stating that they expect Yong to come in for the disappointing Nani.
Whether our most recent acquisition, Alex Buttner, will get a start remains to be seen, we suspect it could be a few weeks before we see him feature as he gets accustomed to the way of life at Old Trafford.
Player to watch: Robin Van Persie
Should he have started at Goodison Park on Monday evening? Will he start on Saturday? I hope so because we need his goals and he needs the confidence a good start will generate.
Fulham Team News:
Martin Jol has been active in the transfer market this summer, although there seem to have been more departures than arrivals. Gone form the familiar Fulham of old are Booby Zamora, Andrew Johnson, Dickson Etuhu and Danny Murphy whilst the future of Clint Dempsey is also up in the air. However, Jol has acquired Mladen Petric up front (replacing Pavel Pogrebnyak who joined Reading once his loan deal expired). Also amongst the Fulham ranks will be the impressive Moussa Dembele, a player United, reputedly, showed interest in this summer and Bryan Ruiz who gave a decent display in the 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City.
Player to watch: Mladen Petric
Signed on a free transfer, the Croatian got off to a splendid start in his first Premier League game, bagging a brace. Our somewhat ramshackle defence will need to keep him shackled otherwise we could live to regret it.
Match Facts & Stats
Fulham are one of those teams that have the evil eye over us on their own patch but a side that, invariably, do poorly at Old Trafford. Here`s raising a glass or two to that continuing this weekend.
The officials in charge are:-
Referee – K. Friend
Assistants – M. Mullarky, J. Flynn
Fourth Official – P.Gibbs
United need to win this fixture, United need to ensure that those who have made a good start are not allowed to open up a gap. Fulham will be tough opposition; Martin Jol will have been pleased how they started the season and will be looking to keep the momentum going. But I`m taking United to prevail and I reckon, come Saturday evening, we`ll be talking about a victory by a margin of two goals. As for the scorers, I`ll go for Rooney and a first United goal for Van Persie.
Our third fixture of the season has us meeting newly promoted Southampton at St Mary`s next weekend.