After our glorious victory over in Basel, a victory that ensured qualification for the knockout stages of the Europa League, it`s back to Premier League action this weekend with a 15:00 kick off, this Saturday, against the reigning Premier League Champions, Manchester United, in the first of three fixtures that sees us take on those riding high in the Premier League table.
Following on from United`s last opposition bottling it and fielding a reserve side, Roy Hodgson has commented on how he perceives things, remarking,
‘I’ll be putting the team out that I think is the strongest and the best team.’
‘Of course I can understand his decision. He has obviously prioritised one game over another game.”
‘Every manager has the right to do what he thinks is right for his team. I know Mick’s major concern, like that of ourselves, is ‘can I survive in this league?'”
‘He made a decision, he’s stuck by it, and I believe they played okay up there.
He might gain from it in the longer run, just as we have. Playing in the Europa League competition, we’ve used five or six players who’ve not played regularly in the League. But they’ve shown they’re good enough and, as a result, we’ve gained in strength.’
Here at Vital Fulham though we feel it was still morally wrong!
Fulham Team News:
Roy Hodgson rested many of our regular starters in Basel and still got the result he wanted. Here at Vital Fulham we expect the likes of Brede Hangeland, Clint Dempsey, Paul Konchesky and Damien Duff to start. Although any possibility of Andrew Johnson returning has been ruled out.
Plucking eleven names out of the air with our usual precision, we expect the starting eleven to look something like this:-
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey, Zamora, Nevland
Player to watch: Danny Murphy
Our club captain used to love playing against Manchester United when he was at Liverpool scoring winning goals with regularity. Here`s hoping that Danny can still be a thorn in the side of Manchester United but this time wearing the familiar white of Fulham Football Club.
Manchester United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson brings his squad to Craven Cottage without the injured Brown, Macheda, Evans, Ferdinand, Hargreaves, Rafael, Nani, Neville, O`Shea and Van der Sar. Also rated doubtful are Giggs and Vidic.
Has there ever been a better time to turn them over?
Player to watch: Ryan Giggs
Giggs is the current PFA Player of the Year and the recently crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year, if he plays see if you can see what all the fuss is about. Personally, I think those two aforementioned awards relate to his longevity in a United shirt and not his recent form over the last twelve months. (Now watch him prove me wrong!)
Match Facts & Stats
Last March, the 2-0 victory over Manchester was our first victory over them for forty-five years. Fulham are also on a four game unbeaten run, not that statistics mean anything once that first whistle blows.
Howard Webb will be the man in charge.
Confidence, after that victory on Wednesday evening, is high in the Fulham camp. Playing against Manchester United is something most professionals dream of, a point that Mick McCarthy should perhaps take not of. It`s also a fact that most professionals when faced with playing Manchester United up their game just that little bit extra. I`m confident about tomorrow, United are not the familiar fearsome machine they were since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlo Tevez and they can be beaten.
Earlier this season Burnley showed the way and the astute Roy Hodgson will have noted what was needed to rattle them, therefore expect a performance from Fulham that could produce a result we`ll remember for a few years to come, can we send Manchester United back north with the same result we inflicted on Liverpool? Maybe not but we could possibly squeeze a 2-1 win out of this one!
The festive action kicks into life with a home fixture, on Boxing Day, against high-flying Tottenham Hotspur followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge, two days later to face near-neighbours Chelsea.