Manchester United will face Fulham in the final Premier League match of the season at Old Trafford and it will be the first match that the Theatre of Dreams has supporters in the stadium, which should be a good celebration following the coronavirus pandemic which has seen supporters away from stadiums for over a year, in most places at least. United’s form has changed recently with the defeats to Leicester City, who won the Emirates FA Cup at the weekend and Liverpool, who are now contesting for a UEFA Champions League place next season – which means both Chelsea and Leicester will be under pressure.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be boosted that there are just three matches remaining until the season ends with the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday 26 May 2021 as the pinnacle of the season and a chance for Solskjaer to win his first trophy as the manager of United, overcoming the clubs semi-final hoodoo under his management, which saw the club lose five semi-finals over the course of three different seasons. Fulham have already been relegated and are in poor form themselves, but they could shock United with a defeat as all six of United’s league defeats this season have been at the Theatre of Dreams. United won’t want that though.
How United have faired against Fulham in the Premier League.
United and Fulham have met 29 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 21 times and drawn five times with Fulham winning three times. United have scored a total of 67 goals with two penalties being awarded, scoring one of them. Fulham have scored 30 times against United with two penalties being awarded, scoring both of them. United have kept a total of 11 clean sheets with Fulham keeping just three of them. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 40 yellow cards and two red cards with Fulham players being shown 37 yellow cards and one red card.
Earlier this season, United beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage despite Ademola Lookman opening the scoring in the fifth minute of the match. Edinson Cavani struck in the 21st minute of the match and Paul Pogba scored the winner in the 61st minute of the match. This will be the first time Fulham have travelled to Old Trafford since the 2018/19 season where they lost 4-1 at the Theatre of Dreams. Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku put United 3-0 up with a 61st minute penalty scored by Aboubakar Kamara giving Fulham hope. But Marcus Rashford scored United’s fourth goal in the 82nd minute of the match with victory already assured.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Fulham in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Over the past week, it has been shown what United would be like without David De Gea and during the social media era, it will continue to breed negativity as there is a massive lack of patience out there. The majority of supporters on social media would write off a player permanently after a mistake and ensure that player was abused, belittled and never played for the club again. That is pathetic. Because Dean Henderson made some mistakes, these fans would rather he left the club and excelled elsewhere, which would give them more to moan about. Henderson is a talent but he needs to be eased in and De Gea still has a part to play at the club, if he wants it that is. Henderson could be so much better with another season alongside De Gea.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw
United conceded six goals at the Theatre of Dreams last week in the 2-1 defeat to Leicester City and the 4-2 defeat to Liverpool. This will be the final match of the season at Old Trafford and there will be around 10,000 supporters so the club should be seeking to end the season at home with a positive performance. With Harry Maguire still on the sidelines through injury, along with Phil Jones who has been there all season, it will leave Victor Lindelof as the most experienced defender, possible partnering Axel Tuanzebe, which would be good to see. In the fullback positions, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw would both be largely positive and help United on their way to get three points in the bag, which should confirm their second-placed finish.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba
United’s midfield has bene rather lacklustre during the latter stages of the season and there is a case for what United need in the summer transfer window – a defensive midfielder at the very least. United could play a 4-3-3 formation against Fulham but with Bruno Fernandes playing in the advanced position. That would leave Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba playing in the two-man part of the midfield with the former doing the defensive work and the latter linking the midfield up with the attack. If United had a defensive midfielder with legs, Pogba could play alongside them in a two-man midfield which would work a lot better than it does right now. Fred has been terrible over the past few weeks and no longer has a case to start regularly – unless he improves.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James
Bruno Fernandes, the clubs top scorer should play in the advanced position in the middle of the three behind the striker. After scoring 28 goals so far this season, add to 17 assists, he is the player that the majority of the goals scored this season have come from, when looking at individual stats. Mason Greenwood should be restored to the right-wing, as he is the most proficient in that position this season with Daniel James playing on the left, giving Marcus Rashford a period of rest ahead of the most important match of the season – the UEFA Europa League final next week. United may not need their big guns on the pitch against Fulham, seemingly having them on the bench in case they are required in the final home match of the season.
Forwards: Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial has not played for United since before the international break back in March/April, missing the last 11 matches for the club. Granted, the Frenchman was not in the best form before that. However, his season has not been the worst with seven goals and eight assists so far this season and there is a chance that he could break into double figures, which would end his season on a high – if indeed he is ready to start. Edinson Cavani is the player in form and to save him for the final against Villarreal in Gdansk, he could probably come off the bench with 30 minutes, or less remaining of the match which could see him increase his 15 goals and five assists so far this season.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani
United will have enough players on the bench to change the game, if that is needed against Fulham, which could be the case after the last two matches. Solskjaer will probably have Dean Henderson on the bench for this match and he will probably start against Wolverhampton Wanderers, keeping David De Gea fit for the Europa League final. In defence, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams will be on the bench. In midfield, Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek will all be available. Edinson Cavani will be the only attacking player on the bench, giving Marcus Rashford a chance to recover from injury, fatigue and poor form. United just need to get through these last two Premier League matches before the big one.
Written by John Walker