Saturday is 4th round FA Cup day at Old Trafford, and after dumping West Ham United out of the competition via a replay in the last round, United take on another Premiership side in Fulham in the tea time kick off.
It’s the first of two 5.30pm meetings in a week between the sides, and there’s likely to be a contrast in Sir Alex’s selection in both matches, despite his admission that he wants to bring the cup home this year.
United are going to be without Jonny Evans and Ashley Young on Saturday. Nemanja Vidic may be rested after a few games in the side following a long time out, so Chris Smalling and Phil Jones might start in the back four.
It could be a game where Paul Scholes makes a start in midfield, and the return to fitness of Nani and Anderson might see them get a game alongside him.
The visitors have Mahamadou Diarra and Kerim Frei missing, and former red Kieran Richardson doesn’t make the trip up north after suffering a calf injury against Manchester City last week.
One former red who’s likely to feature, and will be welcomed back by the Old Trafford faithful is Dimitar Berbatov. The striker left United for the Cottagers in the summer, and has impressed at the London club since his move.
- Fulham have won just once at the Theatre of Dreams in the last 50 years
- It’s nine years since United won the FA Cup
- Fulham have won 10 of their past 11 fourth-round FA Cup ties
Fancy a Flutter? Odds from Bet365.com
- United to win 3-2 – 20/1
- Berbatov to score first – 8/1
- Draw at HT, United to won – 11/4
- Javier Hernandez to score first in a 4-2 United win – 105/1
I spoke to match going Fulham supporter, and my brother, Tom Hutchinson about his thoughts on the game…
SC: It’s the first of two games in a week between our sides this weekend. Do you think you’ll put as much emphasis on winning the cup game as you will the league game at your place?
TH: Yes definitely. Whilst Martin Jol has already stated that Premiership survival is our priority, the chance to progress in the cup is an opportunity not to be missed. Fulham have never won the cup, and have only reached the final once, so the team and the manager owe it to the club and the fans to get as far in the competition as they can.
SC: You signed Berbatov from us in the summer. He was liked by United fans, and always handled himself well at Old Trafford. What’s your opinion on Berbatov at Craven Cottage?
TH: It was a complete shock to hear Berbatov was having a medical at Fulham on the last day of the transfer window. He has been a revelation for us- the only downside being that our midfield was totally decimated that day too. We lost Dembele and Dempsey- as well as Danny Murphy earlier- so Berbatov’s skill and killer instinct has been lacking as he’s not getting the support or the feed that a striker requires. In fact, he’s been playing different positions for the Whites at times instead of the traditional number 9 role- and his goal scoring has suffered for it. But when he’s on form and smiling he’s an absolute joy to watch. He’s also a great mentor to our younger players coming up through the ranks.
SC: Who do you think will be the danger men for Fulham that we’ll need to watch out for?
TH: Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz- when working well together are a formidable force- let’s hope they’re on top form on Saturday!
SC: Who in the united side will cause you problems?
TH: United have such a strong squad who won’t cause us problems? But the obvious danger man for us has to be the signing of the season – Robin Van Persie. He’s been incredible this for you, is in peak condition and top form. Hangeland will need to be on his back all the time if we’re to have any chance of keeping him quiet..
SC: Any score predictions?
TH: OK…I’m going out on a limb – but lets make it 3 meetings in about 3 weeks and have a replay at the Cottage. A 1-1 draw.
Another big tie, and one that will hopefully be a marked improvement on the two showings against West Ham United in round three. If you’re going to the game, read the Reclaim United website for details about the FA Cup day, a great initiative to bring a bit of traditional United FA Cup atmosphere to Old Trafford on Saturday.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.
and Reclaim United: @ReclaimUnited