Manchester United - Fulham Preview: Van Persie looks to make first start for hosts against in-form Londoners
The former Arsenal captain came off the bench in the defeat at Everton, but he will be eyeing a starting role as Sir Alex Ferguson's men play their first home game of the season
By James Burford
Valencia, Carrick, Vidic, Evra
Nani, Cleverley, Kagawa, Young
Van Persie, Rooney
Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise
Ruiz, Diarra, Dembele, Duff
Manchester United's defensive woes are set to continue with Rio Ferdinand (groin), Jonny Evans (ankle), Phil Jones (back) and Chris Smalling (toe) all unavailable, meaning Michael Carrick will likely continue in central defence alongside Nemanja Vidic.
Darren Fletcher has returned to training, and featured in United's pre-season friendly at Aberdeen, but a Premier League return is still thought to be a while off for the Scot.
Robin van Persie may jump from the substitutes bench into the first team. The Dutchman came on against Everton to make his debut for the club but could be handed a first start at home to the Cottagers.
Martin Jol's main issue continues to be the enforced absence of Clint Dempsey. The American did not feature in Fulham's opening day mauling of Norwich City, and is not expected to play at Old Trafford as he seeks a move away from the club.
The Dutch manager's only injury worries are Kerim Frei (pelvis) and Phillippe Senderos (foot), but he is unlikely to change the side, after their opening-day 5-0 win over the Canaries.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- On two of the three occasions that Manchester United have lost on the opening day, they have gone on to win the title.
- Manchester United's last home game was a 2-0 victory over Swansea City, where Ashley Young and Paul Scholes (right) got the goals.
- Ryan Giggs is now entering his 22nd season with Manchester United.
- Fulham's last victory over Manchester United came in 2009 at Craven Cottage where Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff made it 3-0.
- The Londoners haven't been on the winning side at Old Trafford for nine years, since 2003.
- In 2012, John Arne Riise has assisted more Premier League goals than any other left-back.
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Top 3 Predictions
Manchester United 3-0 Fulham
- 20.25 %
Manchester United 2-0 Fulham
- 13.06 %
Manchester United 3-1 Fulham
- 10.74 %
|Premier League (EPL)||2 Nov 2013||Fulham 1 - Manchester United 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||2 Feb 2013||Fulham 0 - Manchester United 1|
|FA Cup (FA)||26 Jan 2013||Manchester United 4 - Fulham 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||25 Aug 2012||Manchester United 3 - Fulham 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||26 Mar 2012||Manchester United 1 - Fulham 0|
|10 Dec 2013||Manchester United 1 - Shakhtar Donetsk 0||UCL|
|7 Dec 2013||Manchester United 0 - Newcastle United 1||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||Manchester United 0 - Everton 1||EPL|
|1 Dec 2013||Tottenham 2 - Manchester United 2||EPL|
|27 Nov 2013||Bayer Leverkusen 0 - Manchester United 5||UCL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|Robin van Persie|
The Red Devils' newest striker will be looking to make his mark in a United shirt, with the opportunity of a first start against Fulham. The Dutchman scored 37 goals in all competitions last season and many of them in big games. The 29-year-old may not be the youngest anymore, but his reading of the game is unrivalled.
The Croatian striker had a dream debut in the Premier League, scoring two and assisting one in the 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City. Martin Jol brought the striker in from Hamburg, having previously worked with him there. Old Trafford will be a completely different arena altogether, but the Croat has a knack for goals that translates anywhere.
Martin Jol will have been very pleased with his side's destruction of Norwich City last weekend and will be hoping to gather momentumn from that game as they visit Old Trafford. Fulham may not be expected to win, which could make them a dangerous opponent, particularly after United's surprising opening day defeat to Everton. Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping his Rooney-Van Persie partnership can begin to flourish and if they can click early on, the goalscoring potential is likely to be too much for the Cottagers to handle.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed