Manchester United play host to Fulham on Saturday as the pressure on Jose Mourinho mounts over the club’s poor Premier League position.
Indeed, they actually find themselves closer to their weekend guests, who prop up the standings, than leaders Manchester City in terms of points.
Anything short of a win against the side who are rock bottom would, therefore, be a catastrophe for the hosts.
|Game||Manchester United vs Fulham|
|Date||Saturday, December 8|
|Time||3pm GMT/10am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched on NBCSN or streamed through NBCSports.com.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast live as it is played during the blackout period.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Manchester United squad|
|Goalkeepers||De Gea, Grant, Romero|
|Defenders||Rojo, Smalling, Lindelof, Jones, Bailly, Young, Dalot, Shaw, Valencia, Darmian|
|Midfielders||Pogba, Mata, Matic, McTominay, Herrera, Lingard, Pereira, Fred, Fellaini, Gomes, Hamilton|
|Forwards||Sanchez, Lukaku, Rashford, Martial, Chong, Bohui|
Romelu Lukaku has been restored to the starting XI to face Fulham, although Paul Pogba has to settle for a place on the bench.
Right-back Diogo Dalot keeps his place, while there's returns for both Phil Jones and Ashley Young, and Juan Mata is also handed a start.
Andreas Pereira, meanwhile, has replaced Luke Shaw on the subs bench, with the England international having picked up an injury in the warm-up.
Man Utd starting XI: De Gea; Dalot, Jones, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Lingard, Rashford; Lukaku.
Subs: Romero, Rojo, A.Pereira, Fellaini, Fred, McTominay, Pogba.
|Goalkeepers||Bettinelli, Rico, Fabri|
|Defenders||Odoi, Chambers, Ream, Le Marchand, Fosu-Mensah, Christie, Bryan, Mawson|
|Midfielders||Sessegnon, McDonald, Kebano, Johansen, Cairney, Seri, Anguissa, Cisse|
|Forwards||Mitrovic, Ayite, Schurrle, Vietto, Kamara|
Fulham have made a number of changes to their starting from the 1-1 draw with Leicester City, with the likes of Tim Ream, Tom Cairney and Andre Schurrle all recalled to the starting XI.
Calum Chambers misses out, while Denis Odoi replaces Cyrus Christie at right-back. Aleksandar Mitrovic, the club's top scorer, starts up front on his own.
Fulham starting XI: Rico; Odoi, Mawson, Ream, Bryan; Seri, Cairney; Schurrle, Anguissa, Sessegnon; Mitrovic.
Subs: Bettinelli, Kebano, Johansen, Vietto, Christie, Cisse, Kamara.
Betting & Match Odds
Manchester United are priced as strong 1/3 favourites to get back on track with bet365. Fulham are 9/1 outsiders while a draw can be backed at 19/4.
For a club of the size of United's, not being able to contemplate a challenge for the title is demoralising at any point in the season, but the Red Devils have long been resigned to pushing simply for the Champions League places this season.
These is already a mammoth 18-point gap between themselves and leaders Manchester City, who won the title by 19 points over United last term. That gulf, however, has demonstrably grown over the past six months.
United boss Jose Mourinho might have escaped the worst of the criticism following Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, earned when Jesse Lingard struck moments after Alexandre Lacazette seemed to have won the match for the Gunners, but there are signs that he is starting to settle for second best.
“In the last four matches, we didn't lose,” he told the BBC. “Bad results? Yes - but four matches we didn't lose. Before we lost against Manchester City, and everybody loses against them.”
He is clearly exasperated with the situation, having taken to dropping World Cup winner Paul Pogba for the last two games, questioning the commitment of certain members of his squad, and complaining to BT Sport: "There are things that I cannot get from them and I cannot say much more than this."
Regardless of the spin he puts on the weekend’s fixture, it is one that United are obliged to win.
Fulham are in a wretched position at the foot of the table, boasting just nine points, two victories and a goal difference of -21.
Having spent around £100 million ($127m) in players this summer, they might have expected a better return.
Four points in their last three games suggests that there are shards of hope for the Craven Cottage side, who drew 1-1 with Leicester in midweek.
However, with only one point from seven away trips so far this season, it is expecting a lot for them to continue with that form at Old Trafford, even taking into account their hosts’ apparently weakened state.