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Preview: United need a win against Fulham to take the pressure off them and let Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool fight it out

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Manchester United -v- Fulham

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 18 May 2021, KO 18:00 BST

Referee: Lee Mason Assistants: Simon Bennett, Adrian Holmes

Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor

VAR: Simon Hooper Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes

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.

Manchester United: LLWLWD

Liverpool 4-2 L, Leicester City 2-1 L, Aston Villa 3-1 W, AS Roma 3-2 L, AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D

Fulham: LLLDLL

Southampton 3-1 L, Burnley 2-0 L, Chelsea 2-0 L, Arsenal 1-1 D, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 L, Aston Villa 3-1 L

Top Scorers: Manchester United have scored nearly four times the goals the Fulham have scored this season with United scoring 117 and Fulham scoring just 32!

Manchester United Goals: 28 – Bruno Fernandes, 21 – Marcus Rashford, 15 – Edinson Cavani, 12 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

Manchester United have scored a total of 117 goals so far in all competitions this season and still have three matches left before the season is over. Bruno Fernandes is United’s top scorer with 28 goals, which is some achievement as he has beaten Frank Lampard’s best season. In United’s last six matches, their form has gone Pete Tong. Solskjaer’s side have won twice, drawn once and lost three times – the last two defeats were in a row at the Theatre of Dreams, so ending the season on a high, in front of some supporters will be key. United have scored 14 goals, conceded 12 and kept one clean sheet.

Fulham Goals: 7 – Bobby De Cordova-Reid, 4 – Ademola Lookman, Aleksandar Mitrovic, 3 – Ivan Cavaleiro, Josh Maja, 2 – Ola Aina, 1 – Joachim Andersen, Tom Cairney, Fabio Carvalho, Own Goal, Aboubakar Kamara, Neeskens Kebano, Mario Lemina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Fulham have scored just 31 goals inn all competitions this season, which is poor to say the least. Their form has been dismal all season and rightfully so they were recently relegated. In their last six matches, Scott Parker’s side have drawn once and lost five times. United’s six defeats in the Premier League this season have all come at the Theatre of Dreams so Fulham will be boosted by this but that said, United should be seeking to end the season at home on a high. Fulham have scored three goals, conceded 12 and kept no clean sheets in these matches. At times it makes me wonder why teams like Fulham try to reach the Premier League.

Team News: Anthony Martial and Daniel James back into contention for United, easing the strain on the attacking players ahead of the UEFA Europa League final.

Phil Jones (knee) and Harry Maguire (ankle) are the only two players to be ruled out of the home clash with Fulham in the Premier League on Tuesday evening. Both Anthony Martial and Daniel James will be back into contention for a place in the squad to face the already relegated London side. It will give Solskjaer other options for the remainder of the season and allow the likes of Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood to be rested significantly ahead of the UEFA Europa League final against Villarreal a week on Wednesday. United should have enough strength to win this match.

Terence Kongolo (knee) is the only player to be ruled out of the clash with United at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening. However, Tom Cairney (knee) and Antonee Robinson (ankle/foot) remain doubts with both having a 25% chance of being fit for this clash with their likely returns on the final day of the season with Fulham at home to Newcastle United. Fulham will be confident after United’s last two defeats, which were at Old Trafford last week, adding up to six defeats at home this season, the club has not lost on the road in the league. Their fate is already sealed and they will be playing in the Championship once again next season.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Martial and Daniel James to start against Fulham?

Solskjaer will need to keep his mind on the UEFA Europa League final in Gdansk, keeping the players that will start in that match both fit and free of injury over the next two Premier League matches. It was announced that both Anthony Martial and Daniel James were back in contention to face Fulham and I think both could start which will allow both Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani to be rested, albeit on the bench – should they be required. I’d like to see Axel Tuanzebe given more first team action too as Eric Bailly did not have a good game against Liverpool on Thursday evening. United should beat Fulham though, not making it too difficult.

Match Prediction: United have beaten Fulham 21 times, drawing five times and losing just three times. Time for United to stand up and secure second place 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.

Manchester United 3-1 Fulham

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW

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