Manchester United and Fulham lock horns at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon in the ultimate round of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
Erik ten Hag became only the fifth Man Utd manager to lead the team to a top-four finish in his first season in charge, as the Red Devils picked apart Chelsea in a thumping 4-1 home victory on Thursday.
After scoring a winner in last weekend’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth, Casemiro opened the scoring only six minutes into the game before Anthony Martial propelled United to a comfortable 2-0 cushion at the break.
Bruno Fernandes made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute from the spot before Marcus Rashford quadrupled the home team’s lead five minutes later, with Joao Felix scoring a consolation injury-time goal for Chelsea.
Three league victories in a row following back-to-back defeats have catapulted Man United to third in the table heading into the final day of the season, two points above fourth-placed Newcastle United.
Ten Hag’s men will hope to finish a decent domestic campaign on a high on Sunday against 10th-placed Fulham, who will secure their first top-half finish in the Premier League since 2011/12, irrespective of Sunday’s result.
Following a dismal run of three consecutive league defeats, Marco Silva’s men have gone unbeaten in their last three matches (W2, D1), most recently drawing 2-2 against Crystal Palace at home.
With the Cottagers flying high again, the Red Devils shouldn’t take this encounter lightly, even though it has all the makings of a ‘dead rubber.’
Sunday could be a potential landmark day for Man United as they aim to win all six meetings with promoted clubs in a single Premier League season for the first time since 2011/12.
Considering the Red Devils have only lost their final Premier League outing in one of their nine campaigns in which they’ve contested the FA Cup final that season (W6, D2), optimism shouldn’t be in short supply.
And with Ten Hag’s side going unbeaten in all 17 home league games (W14, D3) since a 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion on the opening weekend, the Old Trafford fanbase has every reason to look forward to Fulham’s visit.
It seems all pieces have fallen into place to accommodate a perfect ending to a good-looking season as Man United are also undefeated in their last 14 clashes against the Cottagers in the Premier League (W11, D3).
Fulham’s dreadful record of one win and 18 defeats on their 21 league visits to the Theatre of Dreams (D2) will unlikely inspire much confidence in the travelling camp, although Aleksandar Mitrovic’s return from suspension might.
In just two games since coming back from an eight-match ban, the Cottagers talisman has netted three times, including a point-worthy brace against Palace last time out.
Mitrovic was also on the scoresheet in a 2-0 win at Southampton on the visitors’ last Premier League travel, helping Silva’s side end a two-game losing streak on the road, during which they failed to find the net.
It’s been ‘all or nothing’ for Fulham outside Craven Cottage lately. None of their last seven away league games have ended as a draw (W3, L4), with four seeing the winner on the day keep a clean sheet.
Long-term absentee Donny van de Beek has recently got some high-profile company in the treatment room after Antony, Marcel Sabitzer and Luke Shaw joined him and Lisandro Martinez on the sidelines.
However, Ten Hag can call upon the remainder of the squad that humbled Chelsea on Thursday.
Fulham’s Andreas Pereira, Tim Ream and Layvin Kurzawa cannot take this trip with the rest of the group due to injuries.
Manchester United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia; Casemiro, Scott McTominay; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Anthony Martial.
Fulham potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Bernd Leno; Kenny Tete, Tosin Adarabioyo, Issa Diop, Antonee Robinson; Harrison Reed, Joaoo Palhinha; Harry Wilson, Tom Cairney, Willian; Aleksandar Mitrovic.
We Say: Manchester United 3-1 Fulham
What better way to prepare for the upcoming FA Cup final against Manchester City than winning the last warm-up fixture?
Man Utd have gone from strength to strength at Old Trafford this season, and we expect them to cap a marvellous home campaign off in style.