Manchester United restored a bit of pride in their game after holding Arsenal to a draw at Old Trafford during the midweek Premier League matches.
Although the Red Devils have not lost to the Gunners at home in the league since 2006, they were on the ropes at times throughout the 90 minutes. José Mourinho’s team finally showed their backbone by replying twice from behind to salvage a point.
Fulham, similarly, are underperforming drastically. After spending £100 million on players last summer ready for life in England’s top flight, the Cottagers are sitting rock bottom of the league with their form deteriorating with every passing game.
Claudio Ranieri has just been appointed to replace the sacked Slaviša Jokanović and will be attempting to pile more pressure on Mourinho’s shoulders. There has been animosity between these two managers for years, which should make for a tasty fixture for football betting fans.
These two sides possess some of the most disorganised defences in European football.
Manchester United, after 15 games, have recorded a negative goal difference of -1, while Fulham have leaked 36 goals in the same timeframe - a quite shocking amount given the players brought in to Craven Cottage.
Ranieri has been tasked with the problem of stopping the leaky holes in Fulham’s defence, but in his opening three matches, he has seen five goals sail into the back of his team’s net.
Fulham have a prolific centre forward in Aleksandar Mitrovic, who Ranieri claimed was one of the best finishers in Europe, and will test United’s immensely frantic defence with his runs in behind and physical approach that allows him to command the six-yard box.
Mourinho reverted to a three-back defence against Arsenal and might well stick with it against Fulham. With three central defenders, it should provide more security to David de Gea’s goal, but that was not the case against the Gunners, who carved their way through United at times and fed off the mistakes of Marcos Rojo.
Fulham have conceded at least two goals in seven of their last eight away matches domestically, suggesting the root of the problem for the Cottagers. Man United have also seen over 2.5 goals in their last three home matches against Fulham.
Both forward lines are going to cause trouble for each other’s defences, which should make this game entertaining at the very least.
BetVictor have both teams to score at an enticing 31/40, while Coral have odds of 4/7 for over 2.5 goals in this fixture.
With fans now claiming Manchester United should be renamed ‘Martial FC’, it’s not hard to understand why given his goalscoring prowess this season and lack of leaders in this United team.
While Romelu Lukaku has struggled in front of goal, Anthony Martial hasn’t. The Frenchman has eight goals this season in all competitions and is scoring at a rate of 112 minutes per-goal - one of the best returns in the league.
There has been a considerable lack of excitement around Manchester United this season, but Martial has separated himself from the rest of his teammates with his mazy runs and crucial finishes that has helped the Red Devils record results in which they, quite possibly, haven’t deserved.
Martial has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism over the past two years, but he has begun to take responsibility for his performances once again and control games for United - just as he did when first coming in under Louis van Gaal.
This Premier League campaign has been nothing short of shambolic from Mourinho’s men, but Martial has provided some sort of escapism from the other players constantly dragging their feet and underperforming.
Martial might not have ever faced Fulham before, but with such a weak defence to target, there will be no doubt about it that the Frenchman will have opportunities to waltz his way past the defenders and strike for goal.
The former Golden Boy is 6/5 to score at anytime throughout the match with BetVictor, while William Hill price him at 4/1 to break the deadlock.
Old Trafford has been a barren stadium for excitement this season, but the energy levels were at least increased in their latest bout with Arsenal.
Manchester United’s players need to take that type of commitment into this match against Fulham. The Red Devils are, after all, undefeated in 35 of their last 38 home Premier League matches.
What should also be comforting for United fans is that in their last 12 matches at Old Trafford against Fulham, they have not lost one. To make matters worse for Ranieri, the Cottagers have lost their last six away matches in the Premier League.
The Red Devils’ fans aren’t expecting perfection, but if they can’t even put Fulham to the sword and claim the three points against the lowest-ranked team in the division, they are in a worse situation than initially thought.
United’s performance against the Gunners should at least give the players some confidence heading into this match, as well as Martial’s form to find the back of the net.
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