Date: 24th August 2012 at 3:37pm
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van Persie heavily tipped to make his full debut

The game at Everton had many United fans frothing at the mouth. “Fergie needs to sign a ball winner!”, “the season is over already!”, “Fergie out!” and whilst this reporter can’t pretend that he’s happy with the loss, he certainly can’t pretend he’s overly worried. This was, let’s not forget, a United team fielding Valencia at right back and Carrick in the middle. This coupled with Vidic’s first Premier League fixture in a long time also threatened to be a tough fixture. Finally, a first eleven away at Everton would have struggled here and many will. Clint Dempsey-less Fulham at Old Trafford is a perfect opportunity for United to get back on track and remind everyone of the threat they pose this year.

Much talk, again, will be of the defenders unavailable to Ferguson. Ferdinand, Jones, Evans and Smalling all appear unfit and unable to pair up with Vidic at the heart of the defence. Ferguson has a decision to make as to whether he begins with Carrick or Evra in the middle. If it were a clash against a title contender I’d expect to see Evra fill in next to Vidic. However, with the odds stacked in United’s favour, we should fully expect to see Carrick playing there again, leaving Evra out left (new signing Buttner likely to be on the bench). Who plays right back could be interesting too. I, for one, sincerely hope that Rafael plays at right back and not Valencia. Many United fans enjoy seeing Valencia at right back but I hope that an out and out right back, Rafael, is given the opportunity to cement the place as his own – beginning at Fulham. Valencia, is too decent an attacking threat to be held back in the number two position. In goal de Gea is expected to continue to wear the gloves with the aplomb he did at Goodison.

In midfield there may be some changes with Anderson, unbelievably, pushing Scholes for a place as one of the two central players. Cleverley was one of a few players to come out of the Goodison shambles with his head held high so should hold his place. In front of the midfield two, whoever they may be, is Ferguson’s biggest selection headache. On paper Rooney and Nani have to start with Kagawa and Van Persie. On form though, Rooney and Nani should be on the bench. Will Ferguson pick on form? This game offers Rooney, at least, a chance of redemption. I’m expecting Rooney, Kagawa and Young to start behind Van Persie. Nani not being afforded the ‘untouchability’ that Ferguson seemingly allows Rooney. Rooney, however, must not let his manager down if selected.

Match Facts

  • Fulham have lost their last eight Premier League trips to Old Trafford and failed to score in the last five in a row.
  • Manchester United have scored at least two goals in 11 of their last 12 home matches in the Premier League.
  • Fulham fired in more shots on target than any other team on the opening weekend of the season (9).
  • United have kept seven clean sheets in their last nine Premier League games at Old Trafford.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored four goals in his last three Premier League games against Fulham.
  • Fulham have lost their last eight Premier League trips to Old Trafford and failed to score in the last five in a row.
  • Man Utd have won the PL title in two of the three previous seasons where they’ve lost their opening game (1992-93 & 1995-96).

Match Odds

Van Persie first to score (7/2)

Kagawa to score at anytime (2/1)

United win (2/7)

Fulham win (9/1)

Draw (9/2)


United (from): De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Cleverley, Kagawa, Powell, Giggs, Young, Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov, Macheda, Buttner.

Fulham (from): Schwarzer, Stockdale, Somogyi, Etheridge, Kelly, Riise, Hangeland, Baird, Briggs, Grygera, Hughes, Riether, Halliche, Sidwell, Kasami, Duff, Diarra, Kacanicklic, Petric, Ruiz, Rodallega, Trotta.


Even with odds and history in our favour I fully expect this to be a relatively tough home fixture. Hopefully the home crowd’s excitement at seeing Kagawa and Van Persie in United shirts at Old Trafford for the first time and a Rooney desperate to hit form again will carry them over the line. My prediction? 3-1 United with RvP and Kagawa to get on the scoresheet.


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