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Report and Ratings: Paul Pogba MOTM in Fulham victory; Anthony Martial scored and assisted; Phil Jones defended well…

Manchester United beat Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is now unbeaten in their last eleven matches, winning ten and drawing once. Next up is a UEFA Champions League clash with French champions, Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday evening. Champions League nights under the floodlights is what this team is all about.

Paul Pogba opened the scoring for United in the 14th minute of the match. His finish was superb, from a tough angle, poking the ball behind the goalkeeper and into the far side of the net. Anthony Martial got the assist for the opener. Fulham then started to get themselves in the game, as they did from the start which saw United playing sloppy football and making poor passes. Martial then doubled United’s lead in the 23rd minute of the match with a spectacular finish which saw Phil Jones grab the assist.

In the 65th minute of the game, Juan Mata was taken out in the box and referee, Paul Tierney awarded a penalty to United. Pogba took the penalty, shooting to the right and sneaking the ball past the diving Fulham goalkeeper to put United 3-0 up in the game and cruising to victory, which means that Fulham will remain in the bottom three of the Premier League, which could see them many points from safety before the weekend is over.

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Man of the Match: Paul Pogba

The Frenchman scored two goals, albeit one from the penalty spot, which saw United beat Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage. Pogba has grown in character since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came in at the helm, showing signs of the player that Pogba could become. Pogba has now had the best goalscoring season of his career, scoring 11 goals for United this season. His leadership has grown under Solskjaer and he really is emerging as a player that could captain this club next season and beyond.

Match Statistics:

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Had one tricky save to deal with against Fulham, who were not the best attacking outlet, although they did create many chances. Good to get hims tested ahead of PSG coming to town next week. Booked in the last minute of the game after some provocation by Mitrovic.

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Diogo Dalot

Started ahead of Ashley Young, who was rested ahead of the PSG game next week. The Portuguese fullback did well and got stuck into the game.

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Chris Smalling

Solid defending against Fulham, despite the fact they created some chances which were not good enough. Good to see him back, which adds depth to the defence with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having just three fit defenders recently.

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4 Phil Jones

His first game after signing his new long-term contract. He did well despite the level of confidence in the United supporters moaning about him. Under Solskjaer, he could become the player Sir Alex Ferguson thought he was going to be. Pretty solid in defence and got the assist for Martial's goal.

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23 Luke Shaw

Played well against Fulham. Got stuck in with his defensive responsibility and got forward on the attack. Had a shot on goal which was well over the crossbar. It was a team victory over Fulham - 11 matches unbeaten now for United.

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21 Ander Herrera

Commanding in midfield and ran around and cause the havoc only he could cause for his opposition. Had a shot on goal which was saved by the goalkeeper. Deserves a new contract at the club. Let's hope he gets one. Replaced by Eric Bailly in the 85th minute.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The Serbian was booked late in the first half of the game but played solidly throughout. It is good to see him, Herrera and Pogba control the midfield, each one doing their own bit in the team to ensure United win matches.

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6 Paul Pogba

The Frenchman scored twice in the victory over Fulham, a sublime finish to open the scoring and then United's third from the penalty spot.

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8 Juan Mata

Won the penalty for United, which put them 3-0 up in the game.

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Romelu Lukaku

Started ahead of Marcus Rashford, who suffered a dead leg against Leicester, giving him a rest for Tuesday, as he will probably start. Not impressed with the Belgian in all honesty. Slowed the attack down and made things difficult. Perhaps he needs to simplify things a little, finding that confidence to start scoring goals again.

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9 Anthony Martial

Scored a stunning goal to put United 2-0 up and assisted Paul Pogba's opener. It was a pretty good day for the Frenchman, who will be a surety to start against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday evening at Old Trafford. Alexis Sanchez replaced Martial in the 70th minute of the match.

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Substitutes

Alexis Sanchez

Replaced Martial 70'. Had a few opportunities to create after the change. Seemed interested to get on the ball and use his pace to break through the defence.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Pogba 74'. Played well in the midfield three with Matic and Herrera, at least until the Spanish midfielder was replaced by Bailly. Seemed confident.

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3 Eric Bailly

Replaced Herrera 85'. Came on with five minutes and added time. Did what he needed to do.

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Goals: Paul Pogba 14′, 65′ Anthony Martial 23′

Assists: Anthony Martial 14′, Phil Jones 23′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Jones, Shaw; Herrera (Bailly 85′), Matic, Pogba (McTominay 74′); Mata; Lukaku, Martial (Sanchez 70′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Young; Lingard; Rashford

Bookings: Joe Bryan 25′, Calum Chambers 38′, Aleksandar Mitrovic 90′; Nemanja Matic 43′, David De Gea 90′

Confirmed Starting XI: Lukaku and Martial strike partners against Fulham? Smalling and Jones in defence!

Manchester United will travel to London again this weekend to face Fulham at Craven Cottage in the Premier League. In the last meeting this season, United beat Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford, which was Jose Mourinho’s penultimate Premier League match in charge of United before he was sacked. United have a great record against Fulham, playing 73 times, winning 50, drawing 19 and losing just 14 times. The last defeat to Fulham was back in 2009, a year United lost twice at Craven Cottage (over two seasons).

Fulham currently sits 19th in the Premier League table, amassing just 17 points in 25 matches, which is poor and could only mean one thing, a likely relegation back to the Championship if they do not start playing a good brand of football which sees them winning matches. United rose to fifth in the league after their 1-0 victory over Leicester City last weekend and providing they beat Fulham in the first Premier League match this weekend, they will topple Chelsea to reach fourth.

However, Chelsea faces Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, so if they beat the Premier League leaders, they would force United back into fifth place. City will need to keep the pressure on Liverpool this weekend, which is Bournemouth beat Liverpool, or make them drop points, could see City put some daylight between them and Liverpool, meaning that goal difference is not the only factor splitting them, if they beat Chelsea, of course.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Dalot, Smalling, Jones, Shaw;

Herrera, Matic, Pogba;

Mata;

Lukaku, Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Bailly, Young; Lingard, McTominay; Sanchez, Rashford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcus Rashford have been named the manager and player of the month for January 2019 by the Premier League. It was the first time a United manager had won the award for over six years and eight years since a United manager and a player won the awards in the same month. Imagine having the likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho in the management role and not winning an award such as this, which Solskjaer has won not even two months into his career.

The confidence has risen massively since Mourinho was sacked and that is mostly to do with Solskjaer and the fact that he and coaches, Mike Phelan, Michael Carrick, and Kieran McKenna have started to rebrand United back into the attacking football team we all knew was still in there, somewhere. After ten matches, Solskjaer has won nine and drawn just once, which shows how good this team of players is. However, this month, they will be tested to see just how far they can go.

The next few weeks are going to be difficult for Solskjaer and his United team, facing Fulham away from home on Saturday, of which they have won their last four visits, the hosting Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening (12/2), then visiting Stamford Bridge for the second time this season to fight for a place in the sixth round of the Emirates FA Cup with Chelsea (18/2), before a home Premier League clash with the bitter ones, Liverpool (24/2). It won’t be easy.

Starting XI Prediction: Rashford and Martial to shine against Fulham; Pogba to keep pulling the attacking strings?

Manchester United travel to London to face Fulham at Craven Cottage in the Premier League in the first match to be played on Saturday. United find themselves just two points away from Chelsea, who currently occupy fourth place in the league. Should United beat Fulham, they will put the pressure on Chelsea, who travel to the Etihad to face Manchester City on Sunday. City will need the victory to keep the pressure on Liverpool at the top of the league, especially if they beat Bournemouth at Anfield.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues his great start to live as United’s caretaker manager by beating Leicester City 1-0 at the King Power Stadium last weekend, pushing Arsenal from fifth, putting them in their favourite place in the league – sixth. Solskjaer won the Premier League Manager of the Month for January 2019, the first manager of the club to do so since Sir Alex Ferguson more than six years ago. Marcus Rashford also won the Player of the Month award, meaning player and manager win the award – first time in eight years.

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Many players have signed new contracts recently but David De Gea seems to be the one who may be getting away. If I was a director at the club, De Gea would be the first player to get a new contract. He is the most important player in the team right now and he will be costly to replace. Liverpool and Chelsea have spent £66 million and £71 million to get a new goalkeeper and if United want a good one, keeping De Gea is the best option. Get his contract signed now, Ed Woodward!

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Defence: Ashley Young, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw

Fresh after Phil Jones signed a new long-term contract and with rumours suggesting that United are seeking a new defender this summer, which I will believe when I see, this is an important position in the team to get right. United have not kept many clean sheets this season and currently have three in six matches. Victor Lindelof does not seem to have travelled this weekend, leaving Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling to partner in the centre with Ashley Young and Luke Shaw in the fullback roles.

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Midfield: Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic

No matter what some may think, both Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera are the two players that do the work in midfield so Paul Pogba can play further forward. Andreas Pereira has been given a chance recently but he does not seem to be doing himself any favours to become the player many supporters seem to think he will become. Given that, both Herrera and Matic will probably get the nod again, although Scott McTominay seems to have travelled with the squad, so perhaps he will get the chance?

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Attacking Midfield: Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial

This is the most important area on the pitch at this moment in time, now that United are playing the attacking football we have craved for six years or more. Having Jesse Lingard in the team is a no-brainer based on what he offers his teammates, especially going forward. Even off the ball, he is a threat. Paul Pogba is the player that gets everything ticking in the team. His pass to Marcus Rashford against Leicester won the game. Anthony Martial may need to test himself with Alexis Sanchez fit and awaiting another chance to shine.

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Striker: Marcus Rashford

The most in-form striker at the club at this stage of the season. Marcus Rashford has gone from strength to strength in his time playing for United this season. This month will mark three years since he emerged in the first team after Anthony Martial sustained an injury in the UEFA Europa League clash against FC Midtjylland back in 2016. He has achieved a lot in such a short time. Rashford bleeds United and United need him to form a decent attacking lineup against Fulham.

Preview: Manchester United to put pressure on Chelsea by beating Fulham and moving into the top four?

Fulham -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Craven Cottage, London

Saturday 9 February 2019; KO 12:30 GMT

Referee: Paul Tierney

Manchester United will travel to London again this weekend to face Fulham at Craven Cottage in the Premier League. In the last meeting this season, United beat Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford, which was Jose Mourinho’s penultimate Premier League match in charge of United before he was sacked. United have a great record against Fulham, playing 73 times, winning 50, drawing 19 and losing just 14 times. The last defeat to Fulham was back in 2009, a year United lost twice at Craven Cottage (over two seasons).

Fulham currently sits 19th in the Premier League table, amassing just 17 points in 25 matches, which is poor and could only mean one thing, a likely relegation back to the Championship if they do not start playing a good brand of football which sees them winning matches. United rose to fifth in the league after their 1-0 victory over Leicester City last weekend and providing they beat Fulham in the first Premier League match this weekend, they will topple Chelsea to reach fourth.

However, Chelsea faces Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, so if they beat the Premier League leaders, they would force United back into fifth place. City will need to keep the pressure on Liverpool this weekend, which is Bournemouth beat Liverpool, or make them drop points, could see City put some daylight between them and Liverpool, meaning that goal difference is not the only factor splitting them, if they beat Chelsea, of course.

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Pre-Match Opinion: Confidence still on a high after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcus Rashford win Premier League awards for January

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcus Rashford have been named the manager and player of the month for January 2019 by the Premier League. It was the first time a United manager had won the award for over six years and eight years since a United manager and a player won the awards in the same month. Imagine having the likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho in the management role and not winning an award such as this, which Solskjaer has won not even two months into his career.

The confidence has risen massively since Mourinho was sacked and that is mostly to do with Solskjaer and the fact that he and coaches, Mike Phelan, Michael Carrick, and Kieran McKenna have started to rebrand United back into the attacking football team we all knew was still in there, somewhere. After ten matches, Solskjaer has won nine and drawn just once, which shows how good this team of players is. However, this month, they will be tested to see just how far they can go.

The next few weeks are going to be difficult for Solskjaer and his United team, facing Fulham away from home on Saturday, of which they have won their last four visits, the hosting Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening (12/2), then visiting Stamford Bridge for the second time this season to fight for a place in the sixth round of the Emirates FA Cup with Chelsea (18/2), before a home Premier League clash with the bitter ones, Liverpool (24/2). It won’t be easy.

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Form: United are the team that, based on form, will be the major winners heading into this game at Craven Cottage

Manchester United: WDWWWW

Leicester City 1-0 W, Burnley 2-2 D, Arsenal 3-1 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 W, Reading 2-0 W

Solskjaer has done well at United during his two months at the club this season. Ten games, nine wins and one draw. United have gone from 11 points outside the top four under Mourinho to just two points behind Chelsea in fourth place in the Premier League, which could see United rise again this weekend. United and undefeated under Solskjaer and have one draw in the last six matches, the rest are victories. It is going to be a tough month though.

Fulham: LWLLLL

Crystal Palace 2-0 L, Brighton and Hove Albion 4-2 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 L, Burnley 2-1 L, Oldham Athletic 2-1 L, Arsenal 4-1 L

It looks like Fulham are to be on their way out of the Premier League once again this season. 17 points in 25 games, which is poor. It leaves the club seven points from safety and that is just to the 17th position in the league. Losing against United with be another big blow to their season, one which even Claudio Ranieri will not be able to save. Their promotion from the Championship saw them come up with class, something which seems to have been lost along the way. One win in the last six matches. Poor.

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Team News: Victor Lindelof rested against of Fulham clash? Marcos Rojo nearing return; Antonio Valencia suffers a setback

Solskjaer has confirmed that Marcos Rojo has been training all week but according to the media, he has not travelled to London on Friday afternoon. Victor Lindelof seems to have been rested for this game with the Swedish international not seen by the media either. Antonio Valencia will also miss this game due to a setback, although it seems that he may not be in the plans of Solskjaer at this stage of the season with Ashley Young and Diogo Dalot preferred ahead of the veteran. Speaking about this, Solskjaer said:

“Rojo has been training for a few days, so he’s back in training. But we’ve lost Antonio and Matteo through niggles for a couple of weeks. We’re still not bad. We’ve got 20-21 players training every day, so that’s good.

“Antonio has been training hard, really hard, and then he got a setback. So, hopefully, in a couple of weeks, he’ll be back with us. He’s been a fantastic servant at the club, he’s captain for a reason and, hopefully, we can get him back on the pitch. It was hard when he broke down because he would have travelled this weekend.”

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri will have both Cyrus Christie and Andre Schurrle available for the clash with United this weekend. On-loan United player, Tim Fosu-Mensah will not be able to play against his parent club, not that he has featured much under Ranieri this season anyway. Also, Marcus Bettinelli and Alfie Mawson are both long-term absentees. January signings Lazar Markovic and Havard Nordtveit are both nor fit enough to face United, but who knows whether this is a game by the manager?

Predicted Starting XI: Rashford must start against Fulham, despite the fact he will likely play against PSG, Chelsea, and Liverpool too

Marcus Rashford is the best option to face Fulham as the starting striker this weekend. Romelu Lukaku just does not seem to be anywhere near reaching form at this stage of the season, which is worrying. Rashford will relish playing for United, no matter who the opposition is. Lukaku will need to find his form, which has been lacking for nearly the entire season, despite him scoring goals and creating assists here and there.

Match Prediction: Manchester United to put pressure on Chelsea, moving into fourth this weekend

I can see United winning this match. If they won the reverse fixture 4-1 under Mourinho, with the attacking football being a better brand under Solskjaer, this United side should humiliate the strugglers. However, any team is capable of getting a shock result on the day. United was not at their best against Leicester City but scored the only goal of the game to take all three points. That will need to be much different against this Fulham side, who need points to avoid the inevitable, relegation.

Fulham 0-3 Manchester United

Ratings: Rashford great, Mata, Young and Dalot also contenders for MOTM in Fulham victory

Manchester United beat Fulham 4-1 in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku were all on the scoresheet with Marcus Rashford assisting the first two goals and Mata assisting the third. Fulham won a penalty in the 66th minute with Aboubakar Kamara scoring from the spot. United restored their three-goal lead with Rashford scoring in the 82nd minute.

A win is a win for United. This was a much better performance from the Red Devils. Fulham were destroyed from the start of the game. This is how United should have played against Southampton last week. Three points in that game would have been fitting. Ashley Young showed his class and his attacking flair by starting United off in the scoring. Marcus Rashford, assisting twice to put United 2-0 up with Juan Mata scoring that second goal. Going 3-0 up with Romelu Lukaku scoring was great just before half-time.

United started where they left off in the second half, just not getting through to score. Ander Herrera gave a penalty away, somewhat unluckily, giving Fulham a path back into the game. However, they were a long way off the pace at the time. The sending off could have seen United thump a few more goals in but only one more goal came, a well-deserved Marcus Rashford goal, just before he was substituted. United have reacted well, starting on that long road back into the top six, then the top four.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Not a lot for the Spanish number one to get involved in against Fulham. Beaten from the spot, conceding the only goal of the game. Unlucky penalty to give away for Herrera. A win is a win though.

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Diogo Dalot

A contender for MOTM. Edges by Rashford though. His crosses were immense. Needs to start regularly. Right-back for a decade now. His confidence is growing greatly. Should play against Valencia and Liverpool now. Retaining this place thereafter.

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Chris Smalling

Had little to do during the game. Fulham rarely got the better of United to launch an attack. Came off before the hour with an injury. United still in an injury crisis with their defence.

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4 Phil Jones

Same as Smalling. Rarely needed to do anything above and beyond what he was doing. Fulham were dire going forward.

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18 Ashley Young

Opened the scoring for United playing with attacking flair. Looked dangerous going forward. Might keep his place after Luke Shaw limped out of a warmup session ahead of the match.

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21 Ander Herrera

Gave away a penalty and missed a sitter in the final stages of the game. Had some involvement in the game but may not be worthy of a start after this performance. Consistency is key.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Solid in midfield. Mourinho trusts him and he does what he needs to do in the team. Seemed tired in the weeks before this but now he seems to be plodding on and doing what he is asked and expected.

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8 Juan Mata

A goal and an assist for the Spanish midfielder. Had great involvement in this team. Really turned back the years. 50 Premier League goals for him now.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Had good movement although he was a lot quieter than Rashford in this team. Needed to keep his place after his performance against Arsenal.

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10 Marcus Rashford

MOTM for me. Did so much in this game and deserves to keep his place in the team. One goal and two assists. Starting to find his feet this season, which is great.

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Romelu Lukaku

Scored his first Old Trafford goal for a while. The rumours in the media this morning may have worked. A confidence booster for the Belgian. He needs to do a lot more in this team though. Hopefully he starts to find the form he had shown last season, with a better first touch though.

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Substitutes

16 Marcos Rojo

Replaced Smalling 58'. Solid when he came on. Carried on impressing after starting against Arsenal. Good to have him back in the team.

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17 Fred

Replaced Lingard 73'. Needs a run of games to find the confidence to succeed. He was wasteful in possession when he came on. Good signing but needs to find his feet.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Rashford 84'. Should have scored United's fifth with his first touch of the ball, which would have been great it being his birthday and all.

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Goals: Ashley Young 13′, Juan Mata 28′, Romelu Lukaku 42′, Marcus Rashford 82′; Aboubakar Kamara 67′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 13′, 28′, Juan Mata 42′, Ashley Young 82′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Smalling (Rojo 58′), Jones, Young; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Lingard (Fred 73′), Rashford (McTominay 84′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Shaw; Pogba, Fellaini

Bookings: Diogo Dalot 45+1′; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa 31′ sent off 68′, Jean-Michael Seri 72′

Report: Four goals against Fulham was just a confidence booster as Manchester United were back to winning ways

Manchester United beat Fulham 4-1 in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku were all on the scoresheet with Marcus Rashford assisting the first two goals and Mata assisting the third. Fulham won a penalty in the 66th minute with Aboubakar Kamara scoring from the spot. United restored their three-goal lead with Rashford scoring in the 82nd minute.

It was a good start to the game for both United and Fulham. Marcus Rashford came alive in the sixth minute, twisting and turning in the Fulham box. However, the visitors managed to avert the danger. Ashley Young had the ball played back to him but his cross was headed into the air before Sergio Rico gathered the ball. United were peppering crosses into the box, which takes me back to the last meeting between the two sides about four years ago.

United took the lead in the game in the 13th minute of the match with the captain, Ashley Young scoring from a stunning strike. The ball was played forward with Young on the left. He then looked to play his cross but took Denis Odoi on, nutmegging the Belgian before firing his effort into the top corner from a narrow angle. United had scored the opening goal in the game and looked very lively. Another assist for Rashford. A good day for Jose Mourinho?

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Fulham had so far conceded 37 goals this season and this was their 16th game. United had started to get plenty of joy on either side of the pitch. Nemanja Matic played a good ball over to Young, who was urged by the Old Trafford crowd to shoot but the captain crossed the ball and won a corner for United. Moments later, Diogo Dalot played in a cross which found Chris Smalling but his header deflected wide of the target with United winning another corner.

United nearly made it 2-0 after the ball fell for Dalot 25-yards out but his volley was not on target. Fulham had a chance in the 21st minute of the match after Tom Cairney played the ball to Aleksander Mitrovic, who nutmegged Jesse Lingard on the 18-yard line, opened up some space to shoot but the shot was too tame with David De Gea making a simple stop. United then had a shot blocked in the 22nd minute with Romelu Lukaku setting up Young, whose flick was blocked at the back post.

United doubled their lead in the 28th minute through Juan Mata, his 50th Premier League goal, once again assisted by Rashford. Lukaku played the ball to Rashford down the left, his cross found Mata whose first-time effort nestled into the bottom corner with Rico beyond reach to avert the goal. United seemed to be full of confidence in this game and there was no Paul Pogba on the pitch. Can’t help but wonder if he was one of the problems with this team seeming so lacklustre this season?

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Mourinho seemed happy on the sidelines, clearly being shown by his squad that they did have the desire and hunger he spoke about ahead of this game. United keep pummelling this Fulham side, seemingly seeking more goals. United had another big chance with Rashford showing his confidence, talent and his attacking mentality. It was a big save for Fulham though. United had a third in the net just before half-time.

Lukaku was the scorer, scoring his first Old Trafford goal for some time. Young played the corner short to Mata, who then rolled the ball to Lingard. Lingard then found Mata, who was just onside running into the box, rolls the ball to the Belgian, who buried his effort. United were 3-0 up and cruising in this match. It will put them into a positive goal difference and see them rise in the table, at last. Three minutes were played at the end of the half.

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Aboubakar Kamara and Luciano Vietto replacing Cairney and Mitrovic. It did not do much as United were still seeking to open up the game with more goals. Rashford had a good chance to create something from a shot and a parried effort from Rico saw Lukaku receive the ball but his effort was wide of the target. United were continuing to attack, which was a good sign.

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Dalot put in a great cross in the 50th minute. His terrific low ball curled perfectly but Rico denied United from capitalising by putting Lukaku off just inside the six-yard box. A few minutes later, the pace in the game slowed and Mourinho may need to make changes in order to keep his side on top. Just before the hour, Smalling seemed to be carrying a knock but he still did enough to deny Ryan Sessegnon from creating something with Andre Schurrle on the edge of the area with the ball, curling his effort over the crossbar.

Smalling was replaced by Marcos Rojo. Ander Herrera had a good chance on the hour but needed to do much better. Lukaku picked out the Spanish midfielder but he only dragged his effort wide of the far post but it seemed the chance was an easy one for Herrera. Two minutes later, Schurrle flashed his shot wide of the target but the ball did not go out of play with Fulham ending it by winning a corner, but they failed to do anything with the set-piece.

Fulham won a penalty in the 66th minute with Herrera seemingly downing Kamara. Looking at the replay, Herrera won the ball with his challenge but it also came off Kamara’s shin. It was Kamara who took the penalty and sent De Gea the wrong way. Fulham had a goal back in the game but they were still a long way out of it. 3-1. Fulham had a player sent off in the 68th minute. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, already on a yellow, saw a second followed by the red for a challenge on Rashford.

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Jean-Michael Seri was booked in the 72nd minute for pulling back Lukaku. Mourinho made his first substitution with Fred coming on for Lingard in the 73rd minute. Fulham made their third substitution with Ibrahima Cisse replacing Schurrle. Dalot got the better of Bryan on the right but Rico got a palm onto his cross just before Lukaku could get something on it. United were playing a great team game against Fulham, one we have waited a long time to see. They need to play the same way against Valencia and Liverpool.

In the 81st minute, Fulham made a save to deny Rashford, who has to assist to his name already this afternoon. The 20-year-old skipped past two Fulham defenders and their sliding tackles before striking the ball low but Rico was too close to it, denying the forward from a goal. A minute later, Rashford got his goal. He had the ball in the corner of the area and caught Rico out with a fierce effort which snuck in at the near post. A goal and two assists.

Mourinho then made a third substitution with Scott McTominay, on his birthday, replacing Rashford, who was given a standing ovation by the Old Trafford faithful. United had another opportunity in the 85th minute after a great Dalot cross and McTominay met it but his header was straight at Rico. It was his first touch of the game. Three minutes were added at the end of the half. Fred had a late chance but was crowded out in the box. United have restored their path to winning ways. Valencia up next.

Goals: Ashley Young 13′, Juan Mata 28′, Romelu Lukaku 42′, Marcus Rashford 82′; Aboubakar Kamara 67′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 13′, 28′, Juan Mata 42′, Ashley Young 82′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Smalling (Rojo 58′), Jones, Young; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Lingard (Fred 73′), Rashford (McTominay 84′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Shaw; Pogba, Fellaini

Bookings: Diogo Dalot 45+1′; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa 31′ sent off 68′, Jean-Michael Seri 72′

Confirmed Starting XI: Lukaku leads the line; Smalling, Jones, Young & Mata back in the XI; Pogba benched

Manchester United welcome Fulham to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League. On Wednesday evening, United drew 2-2 with Arsenal, coming back twice to level the points. It was a much better match than had been seen at various points this season as United attacked from the start and only looked poor again after three substitutions were made, which included Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, who had both been dropped from the starting XI.

United’s defence was boosted with the return of both Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo, along with Chris Smalling returning from injury, which kept him out of the draw with Southampton four days previously. The performance against Arsenal may not have changed much, other than show that some of United’s players are prepared to fight, but United manager Jose Mourinho will need to find ways to get United firing once again, starting this weekend.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Dalot, Smalling, Jones, Young;

Herrera, Matic;

Mata, Lingard, Rashford;

Lukaku

Substitutes:

Romero; Rojo, Shaw; Pogba, Fred, Fellaini, McTominay

Paul Pogba has been criticised by supporters, pundits, managers, journalists and writers alike since he made his £89 million return to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016. Graeme Souness had shown an unhealthy obsession with the French international but recently, most of what has been said about the player has been correct. Pogba himself once said that he did not give his all on the pitch, which is poor for a professional player.

Against Southampton last weekend, the Frenchman gave the ball away 25 times and just did not seem to want to be on the pitch. Some would say he does not want to be at the club. There are factions of supporters who seem to worship particular players, somewhat intolerant of anything negative being said about the player(s) they follow, despite the majority being factual. These same supporters seem to harbour anything negative about other players, even the manager, who is apparently ruining the club.

I was once excited to see Pogba back in a United shirt but recently, it is something I abhor. Unless a player is willing and able, to fight for the badge on the front of the shirt he is wearing, they are an unnecessary aspect of the football club they apparently represent. Pogba seems to play for the name on the back of his shirt, not that he is doing that much good by not performing. His hairstyles, clothes and his religion seem so much more important than anything else he stands for. Time for departure number two?

Starting XI Prediction: Martial and Rashford lead the line, Lingard in a supporting role against Fulham?

Manchester United entertain Fulham at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. The London club sits bottom in the league table, earning just nine points in 15 matches this season. That should suggest United would be able to beat this team but when you look at Southampton, who are 18th in the league, with the same number of points, knowing that they were 2-0 up against United in twenty minutes last weekend, you will see that Fulham, despite being poor this season, will probably be a match for United.

Supporters have been criticising Jose Mourinho for suggesting that Fulham could be a team seeking to better their position, as that is exactly what they are. Gone are the days that a team can be written off because of the size of the club or the position they are currently in. The Premier League is a competitive league and United are a team that is getting worse as each and every day passes. Nothing United do now seem to make them better. The club is rotten from the very top to the bottom.

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish number one is starting to find his feet again after a turbulent start to the new season. Many goals have been conceded in all competitions, not that it is all his fault, but the morons who like to moan will start to point blame in his direction like some opposition supporters have been doing. He is one of the most talented goalkeepers in world football and does not get the recognition that he deserves. The first name on the teamsheet for me and likely for Jose Mourinho too.

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Defence: Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw

The defence has been problematic throughout the season and only 21 matches in all competitions have been played. Diogo Dalot has a long way to go but he has been doing well. He could well be replaced by Ashley Young in this game, but I would like to see him keep his place. Eric Bailly is a doubt but I expect him to be fit. He needs to find a way out of the injury-plagued situation he has been in for some time. Marcos Rojo should keep his place in the team and hopefully Luke Shaw will be fit to start.

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Midfield: Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

United’s midfield has been problematic. Nemanja Matic has seemed tired recently but against Arsenal, he was one of the standout performers. BT Sport gave hims the MOTM award for the game. Mourinho has given reasons why Fred is not playing as much football as some think he should, which would suggest he’s not going to start against Fulham, or is he? Ander Herrera and Matic should keep their places. Paul Pogba could be back in the starting XI, although I am not sure he deserves that. He lacks so much effort.

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Attacking Midfield: Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard played well against Arsenal on Wednesday. Scoring United’s second equaliser seconds after Arsenal led for the second time in the game. The player scored twice for England in the last international break and clearly cares about achieving things with this club. It is never going to be easy for United, as supporters have demands on what they want the team to win, but to demand something only means that you will not get it. Patience is needed. Lingard is a class player and one that understands the club.

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Striker: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial

Goals are what is needed to win matches. Having Romelu Lukaku in the side right now is not going to achieve that. Playing two strikers means that there is less reliance on a particular player, therefore making it easier to find the back of the net. In the last two matches, United have scored twice in each game, showing that goals are something the club can achieve with two forwards up top. If fit, Anthony Martial should be paired with Marcus Rashford again. It is a no brainer for me.

Preview: Beating Fulham should be simple for Manchester United but it will be laboured once again, if it happens…

Manchester United -v- Fulham

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 8 December 2018; KO 15:00 GMT

Referee: Lee Probert

Manchester United welcome Fulham to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League. On Wednesday evening, United drew 2-2 with Arsenal, coming back twice to level the points. It was a much better match than had been seen at various points this season as United attacked from the start and only looked poor again after three substitutions were made, which included Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, who had both been dropped from the starting XI.

United’s defence was boosted with the return of both Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo, along with Chris Smalling returning from injury, which kept him out of the draw with Southampton four days previously. The performance against Arsenal may not have changed much, other than show that some of United’s players are prepared to fight, but United manager Jose Mourinho will need to find ways to get United firing once again, starting this weekend.

Mourinho has been under fire for summer signing Fred not playing as much football as would be expected. The Portuguese manager told journalists and writers at his press conference on Friday why the Brazilian has not featured as much for his team, saying:

“Step by step. You also have other players at other clubs that needed their time and you have some of them that play even less than what Fred is playing. I think Fred [will play more], when the team is defensively stronger and doesn’t need in midfield people that are more worried about giving some balance to the team than being involved in creation and attacking dynamics. The day we are stronger defensively, I think the horizons for Fred change completely.”

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Pre-Match Thoughts: Paul Pogba is not the cause of all Manchester United’s problems but he is a contributing factor for many

Paul Pogba has been criticised by supporters, pundits, managers, journalists and writers alike since he made his £89 million return to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016. Graeme Souness had shown an unhealthy obsession with the French international but recently, most of what has been said about the player has been correct. Pogba himself once said that he did not give his all on the pitch, which is poor for a professional player.

Against Southampton last weekend, the Frenchman gave the ball away 25 times and just did not seem to want to be on the pitch. Some would say he does not want to be at the club. There are factions of supporters who seem to worship particular players, somewhat intolerant of anything negative being said about the player(s) they follow, despite the majority being factual. These same supporters seem to harbour anything negative about other players, even the manager, who is apparently ruining the club.

I was once excited to see Pogba back in a United shirt but recently, it is something I abhor. Unless a player is willing and able, to fight for the badge on the front of the shirt he is wearing, they are an unnecessary aspect of the football club they apparently represent. Pogba seems to play for the name on the back of his shirt, not that he is doing that much good by not performing. His hairstyles, clothes and his religion seem so much more important than anything else he stands for. Time for departure number two?

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Team News: Lindelof and Sanchez still out for United; players coming back from injury to field an able side

Mourinho has confirmed that there are still some doubts ahead of Saturday’s visit of Fulham to the Theatre of Dreams. Against Arsenal, Anthony Martial limped off and Chris Smalling, although he made himself available for the match, was not fully fit. Phil Jones missed the match through injury. Eric Bailly, although he came back into the fold, seemed to be not fully fit at the end of the match, seemingly a doubt ahead of this match. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Mourinho said:

“[We are] still waiting for conclusions, still waiting for people like Martial, Smalling, Jones – people with these kind of doubts. But there is a good spirit and people are putting themselves on the line like Chris did in the last match and Jones did against Southampton. That’s important when we have so many matches and problems with some players.”

United will still be without both Victor Lindelof and Alexis Sanchez. Ashley Young is back from a one-match suspension after earning five yellow cards so far this season. Luke Shaw could be back in contention. Fulham Claudio Ranieri will have some absences for this match. Tim Fosu-Mensah is ineligible to play against his parent club whilst on loan this season. Both Floyd Ayite and Kevin McDonald could miss this match through injury.

Predicted Starting XI: World class players do not make a team. A team can be made with individuals who want to fight and win…

Manchester United have many willing and able players to field a team. The defence is the main area that needs attention right now. United still rely on Smalling and Jones as the most-experienced defenders at the club but both are largely poor in their roles, which is where the consistency has been during their long careers at the club. Lindelof’s injury came at a bad time for United but with Bailly and Rojo making a return, it could keep Smalling and Jones out of the team.

Pogba needs to knuckle down and work hard for his place in the team. He is a talented player but one cannot be faulted for looking at the problems he causes in the team. He might think he’s the best player in the world but he’s a long way off achieving that. What team would want to spend a massive fee on Pogba right now. He’s more interested in fashion, dancing, or getting his hair cut, which are the things he has done consistently in his time at the club.

Romelu Lukaku needs to sort himself out too. Overweight, lacking ability to play with the ball and losing the aspects of his game which gave him the option of moving to United 18 months ago. Nothing seems to be going right for United. Players need to stand up but also the manager, the executive vice-chairman, the owners and the board need to look at the problems they have all caused themselves. I don’t believe there is one person at fault for everything. Working together to solve the problems is much better then them persisting.

Match Prediction: United should be beating Fulham easily but in practice, it will be another tough match as more of United’s identity drifts away

Nothing seems to be easy for United right now. There are problems in almost every area of the club. It makes you wonder what the hell is going on at the club. The owners seem to care more about what they can take out of the club. Ed Woodward seems to be happy bringing on sponsorship deals and pretending he has footballing knowledge which has seen him suggest United’s defence is better than it could have been with investment. Mourinho has his faults and his stubbornness could become costly.

A defensive approach in every game sees United as the underdog. Defence wins titles but United are a long way off the fight to win one, as they have been for five years now. There is no point in defending when you have achieved nothing in attack. Score goals, then defend. Surely that is the best way to be. There are so many problems and seemingly no solutions for any one of them. Something will need to give soon though. The media are getting ready for another managerial sacking at United. They rule the roost, they think!

Manchester United 2-1 Fulham

Jose Mourinho: We played well, we tried to win

Manchester United beat reigning Premier League champions Leicester City 3-0 at the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening, their third victory over the club this season, completing the double in the league. Leicester have been defeated too many times to still class themselves as the champions, but until another team has won the title, they are still the champions and that must be embarrassing for them. Last season, Leicester took advantage of so many of the top clubs not doing enough, and that was enough for them to have a fairytale ending to the season, and play in the UEFA Champions League this season, which saw them reaching the knockout stages, which may see them head further into the competition. As for the league, though, that is over and relegation could yet call for the, with safety a way off at this moment in time. United needed to take advantage of their rivals Arsenal and Liverpool who were both defeated by Chelsea and Hull City respectively. United did what was needed.

Juan Mata on the performance against Leicester City in which Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored before the break and the Spaniard added the third in the second half:

“I think the performance was quite good. Even before scoring the first goal, we were trying to control the game through passes and trying to have the ball. Micki scored an incredible goal and, after that, we played really good and scored twice more, so we are really happy today because we took our chances.”

United manager Jose Mourinho was happy with the victory, which saw United playing well and doing what they needed to do in order to get the points needed:

“I think we played like we normally play. We played well, we tried to win. Obviously the opponent is difficult but that’s something we are used to. We didn’t have the best start – in the first 15 or 20 minutes. But then we started to have control, we moved the ball around, we created chances, we scored goals. That’s the only difference – that we arrived at half-time with a 2-0 result. Then we controlled the game and it was quite easy.”

Mourinho on the formation change from 4-4-2, which seemed to change the game for United:

“We went to a 4-4-2, the same system as they play. We tried not to give [Leicester’s centre-backs] Morgan and Huth a two-against-one fight and target with Zlatan. We tried to give more freedom to Zlatan by playing with Marcus there. We were fine, we were quite stable in the game but without the quality of the possession we normally have and the control of the game. Then we changed and we started finding more spaces, then the first goal came and everything became easy for us.”

Mourinho on Manchester United taking their chances:

“We missed the first big chance, for Rashford, after some amazing football. If he hits the shot well, it’s an amazing goal. But then the second chance, third chance, fourth chance – goals. And then the game is in our hands. We are very good by keeping the ball, controlling the game and killing the opponent’s emotion, but we need to score goals and we did that.”

The Portuguese manager also spoke about Manchester United’s global performance:

“There were many good performances. The global performance was very good and there were many good individual performances; obviously Micki with the goal and assist and some amazing actions come into the eye, but I could name many players with very good individual performances.”

Mourinho on Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring his 20th goal this season; his 15th in the Premier League:

“Normally when strikers score goals we say ’22 goals – 14 goals and eight penalties’, or ’21 goals – 14 goals and seven penalties’. With Zlatan we need to remind ourselves it’s 20 goals – 19 and one penalty.”

Mourinho on Manchester United putting pressure on their rivals at this stage of the season:

“I don’t know if we put pressure on. I know that we are there. We are going to have a much more difficult season than them and we are in a difficult situation but we are there. The team plays well; the team has given us a reason to trust them until the end.”

Henrikh Mkhitaryan on Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring his twentieth goal this season against Leicester City:

“I think no-one is surprised because this is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. You have to expect this kind of performance. I’m sure that he’s going to score more than 20; he can maybe score 30 to 35 goals this season, if not more, because everyone knows that he’s a big, big star. I’m just excited and glad that he keeps scoring a lot of goals.”

Juan Mata, who scored United’s third goal this afternoon, spoke about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s performance this season:

“He still has a lot of games to go until the end of the season and I’m sure he will score a lot more. But obviously it’s his first year in England, his first time at Manchester United and in the Premier League and he is in February with 20 goals. It’s a great record but I’m sure he’ll want more.”

copyright: JW