Saturday, August 25, 2012

Manchester United vs. Fulham preview

There is no team better at overcoming a defeat early in the season than Manchester United. The Red Devils under Sir Alex Ferguson have always bounced back after unconvincing displays early in the season, hence despite the opening game defeat at Goodison Park, the players and coaching staff are all calm. That being said, it was a pretty disappointing display by the midfield in particular.

Sir Alex hardly ever selects the same team in consecutive matches, and following a defeat there are always bound to be changes in the starting line-up. The Old Trafford faithful can expect to see Robin Van Persie getting his first Manchester United start at home. Danny Welbeck will have to be sacrificed, as Wayne Rooney and fellow new import Shinji Kagawa will play behind the Dutchman, providing him with chances and moving into goalscoring positions themselves at the right time.

Jonny Evans has not been declared fit in time for the match, so United fans will have to bear with Michael Carrick in defence again. The only consolation for Sir Alex is that Fulham don't have a Marouane Fellaini, who completely outplayed United's makeshift defence in the air. Ferguson might also make changes in midfield, with Ryan Giggs possibly come in place of Paul Scholes, and Ashley Young a contender to replace Nani.

Fulham had a remarkable 5-0 win at home against Norwich to open their campaign, a feat even more impressive in the backdrop of the Clint Dempsey saga. Mladen Petric had an amazing debut at Craven Cottage, and looks like a signing who will deliver goals and creativity for Fulham this season.

The standout star in midfield however was Moussa Dembele, the Belgian maestro controlling the game from midfield with his intelligent passing and clever stylings. Partnering him was the exciting Alexander Kacaniklic, who looks like he is going to be a key player for Fulham this year with his elegant passing and smart movement. Jol should go with the same team, although there is a case for Hugo Rodallega to start in stead of Bryan Ruiz, as the Colombian could succeed in bullying Carrick and Antonio Valencia in defence.

It is typically understood that the worst time to play Manchester United at Old Trafford is after they lose a game. United will be out to prove a point at the Theatre of Dreams, and Fulham are clear underdogs. That being said, there will be some adjustment needed with Van Persie in the team from the start, and against a midfield that's comfortable with the ball, this won't be the expected romp, but rather a close and well-fought victory.