We look ahead to Saturday’s early kick-off at Craven Cottage as Erik ten Hag’s hopes to ease the mounting pressure. This is our data-powered Fulham vs Manchester United prediction and preview.
Fulham vs Manchester United: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer predicts that Man United (41.5%) are favourites to pick up an away victory at Fulham (29.4%).
- Man Utd are looking to win three consecutive Premier League away games for the first time since a run of 10 between June and December 2020. However, both of their away league defeats this season have been in London (0-2 v Tottenham, 1-3 v Arsenal).
- United have lost half of their games in the Premier League this season (five of 10), their most defeats from the opening 10 games of a league campaign since 1986-87 (six).
Manchester United take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday in desperate need of a positive result, with morale arguably at a season-low following resounding defeats in the past week.
United were humiliated by rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford last weekend as Erling Haaland scored twice before Phil Foden netted late on to condemn Erik ten Hag’s men to a comfortable 3-0 defeat, already their fifth loss of the league season.
The Manchester derby thumping reduced Man Utd’s goal difference to -5, their lowest at this point of a league campaign since 1972-73 (-5), while only once have they ever had a poorer goal difference at any stage of a Premier League season (-6 after three games in 2020-21).
Defeat to City was then followed by a similarly dismal 3-0 loss at home to Newcastle United in the EFL Cup on Wednesday. Although Ten Hag made several changes to his lineup, the performance was no better and they were dumped out of the competition they won last season. As Such, the pressure is mounting on Ten Hag.
It’s been dreadful start to the Dutchman’s second season in charge and it’s easy to see the upcoming trip to Fulham spelling more trouble, with United taking maximum points on just one of their last 11 Premier League visits to London, losing on their last three trips. Only between April 1973 and January 1974 (five) have they lost more consecutive games in the capital.
They will be taking on a Fulham side who’ve recorded three wins and as many draws from their first 10 games, while three of their four defeats have come against Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham. Marco Silva’s men have largely beaten the sides expected to finish below them in the league table, though they did suffer a chastening 3-0 home loss to local rivals Brentford on Matchday 2.
Fulham are tied for sixth for fewest shots faced in the Premier League this season (125), but sixth for most shots on target faced (56). Indeed, their record of 12.5 shots faced per game is their second lowest on record (since 2003-04) in a single Premier League campaign (11.3 in 2020-21), while their 5.6 shots on target faced per game is their fourth highest.
Only Burnley (112) have suffered more high turnovers against them than Fulham (111) in the Premier League this season, and Bournemouth (five) are the one team to have conceded more goals from such situations (Fulham – three). Meanwhile, Manchester United have made more high turnovers than any other side this term (112) but are yet to score from such a passage of play (18 shots). If they can figure out a way to take advantage of those situations, Saturday could prove to be a fruitful outing for the Red Devils.
To do that, though, they will need their attacking players to show up in a way that has not always been the case this season. United’s return of 11 Premier League goals this term is at least five fewer than every other side in the top half, while their forwards have contributed to just two of those, both from Marcus Rashford (one goal, one assist).
Midfielder Scott McTominay is United’s top scorer with three Premier League goals while Antony, who scored in each of his first Premier League appearances for United, has netted just once in his last 29 matches in the competition. Only Enzo Fernández (18) has had more shots without scoring this term than the Brazilian (16).
Hardly helping Ten Hag’s cause are the continued injury problems suffered by Casemiro, who was withdrawn at half-time on Wednesday and is expected to at least miss Saturday’s trip. United also remain without Lisandro Martínez, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia, while Jadon Sancho is still exiled after his public spat with the Man Utd manager. Aaron Wan-Bissaka did return against Newcastle, however.
Fulham had a much more enjoyable outing in the EFL Cup with their 3-1 win at Ipswich Town, a game that doesn’t appear to have led to any new major injury concerns ahead of this Premier League match. Silva could even be boosted by the returns of Kenny Tete and Adama Traoré to his lineup on Saturday, though the game will likely come too soon for Tosin Adarabioyo, and Issa Diop is expected to be unavailable until after the international break in late November with a foot injury.
João Palhinha will be key if Fulham are to succeed on Saturday – the Portuguese midfielder has made a league-high 45 tackles this season, while he’s also joint top goalscorer in the Premier League this season for the Cottagers alongside Bobby De Cordova-Reid with two goals. In fact, only six Fulham players have scored a league goal this season (also Willian, Tim Ream, Carlos Vinícius and Andreas Pereira), which highlights an issue scoring goals since Aleksandar Mitrović’s departure.
Fulham vs Manchester United Head-to-Head
Manchester United have won their last six Premier League away games against Fulham – only at West Brom (eight between 1984 and 2011) have they won more consecutively at an opponent in their league history.
In fact, the one-sided nature of this fixture runs even deeper. Since winning back-to-back Premier League games against Man Utd in March/December 2009, Fulham are now winless in 15 against them, drawing three and losing 12. They’ve also lost two FA Cup meetings with United during that time.
The last clash between the sides came on the final day of last season at Old Trafford, Ten Hag’s men ending the campaign with a 2-1 triumph thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes after Tete had put Fulham ahead and Aleksandar Mitrović, now plying his trade in Saudi Arabia, had missed a penalty to make it 2-0. The win sealed a third-place finish for United.
Fulham have alternated between defeat and victory in their four Premier League home games this season, beating Sheffield United 3-1 last time out. Indeed, both of their wins at Craven Cottage this term have been against promoted sides (also 1-0 vs Luton Town).
United are yet to draw a game this season in any competition, winning or losing all 15 of their matches. With nine points from a possible 18 at Old Trafford and six from 12 on the road in the Premier League, they’ve taken just half the points available both at home and away.
Rashford scored 30 times in all competitions last term but is yet to replicate that prolific form this season, netting just once. It’s not for the want of trying, with no United player having more shots than him (38) in all competitions, but the ball is just not finding the net with anything like the same regularity that proved so vital to United in Ten Hag’s first season.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Fulham vs Manchester United Prediction
The Opta supercomputer has Manchester United as favourites to come away from Craven Cottage with all three points on Saturday, victorious in 41.5% of the 10,000 match simulations ahead of this weekend.
Fulham are given a 29.4% chance of finally ending their winless run against United, while the teams share the spoils in 29.1% of simulations.
United’s shaky start means they are now given just a 2.21% chance of finishing in the top four, a huge drop from the 63.2% probability that Opta’s supercomputer gave them before the season. Their estimated finish is now eighth, four places below their pre-season prediction of fourth. Fulham, meanwhile, are expected to finish safely in mid-table, relegated in just 1.12% of simulations.