Can Erik ten Hag’s men maintain their push for UEFA Champions League football? We look ahead to Saturday’s game at Old Trafford with our Manchester United vs Fulham prediction and preview.

Manchester United vs Fulham Stats: The Quick Hits

  • The Opta supercomputer predicts a fifth straight Premier League win for Man Utd, who beat Fulham in 50.9% of pre-match simulations conducted ahead of Saturday’s game.
  • After only winning two of their eight league games in December and January (two draws, four losses), Man Utd have won all four of their matches so far in February.
  • Rasmus Højlund has scored in each of his last six Premier League games – the only Man Utd player to score in more consecutive matches in the competition is Ruud van Nistelrooy (10 in 2003 and eight in 2001-2002).

Match Preview

Erik ten Hag’s second season at Old Trafford has been anything but a smooth ride, yet there could still be a happy ending in store for Manchester United. Sitting five points off the UEFA Champions League spots and buoyed by Jim Ratcliffe’s minority takeover receiving approval this week, the Red Devils are gaining momentum ahead of Saturday’s clash with Fulham.

Things looked bleak for Ten Hag when United won just two of their eight Premier League games throughout December and January, drawing two and losing four, but they have responded with a run of four straight victories in February. The last time that they played at least five league games in a single month and won all of them came back in January 2009 under Alex Ferguson (5/5).

They were tested by Luton Town at Kenilworth Road last time out, though. Rasmus Højlund’s quickfire double had United on course for a comfortable victory, but they came under severe pressure after Carlton Morris halved the arrears for the Hatters.

Højlund’s form has been instrumental in Man United’s turnaround, with the Dane scoring in each of his last six Premier League games (seven goals in total) after failing to net in his first 14. The only United player to net in more successive matches in the competition is their former Dutch goalscorer Ruud van Nistelrooy, who had a 10-game run in 2003 and an eight-match streak in 2001-02.

Rasmus Højlund Scoring Run

Elsewhere, United will look to captain Bruno Fernandes to produce the goods once again versus one of his favourite opponents. He has scored the winning goal in United’s last two Premier League games against Fulham, including a stoppage-time strike in the reverse fixture in November. In all competitions, he has four goals in his last three meetings with Saturday’s opponents.

Since making his Premier League debut in February 2020, meanwhile, Fernandes has created more chances than any other player in the competition (405), while he also leads all players in the division for chances created this season, with 72.

Ten Hag does have a few selection issues to deal with here, with Luke Shaw set to be out for a few months with a leg injury after being forced off at Kenilworth Road, while Lisandro Martínez, Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Mason Mount and long-term absentee Tyrell Malacia are also ruled out. The United boss also has decisions to make over Harry Maguire and Casemiro, both of whom were withdrawn last Sunday after being fortunate to avoid two first-half bookings.

Casemiro has been upstaged in recent weeks by teenage sensation Kobbie Mainoo, who must surely be an England candidate after producing a series of composed midfield performances.

In all competitions, United have won 61.5% of their games when Mainoo has started this term, compared to 45.5% when he hasn’t. Since Mainoo made his full Premier League debut last November, Fernandes (27) and Diogo Dalot (25) are the only United players to be involved in more open-play sequences ending in a shot (excluding taking the shot or creating the chance) than his 23.

Marcus Rashford will be hoping to improve on a recent poor run of form in front of goal at Old Trafford. He’s scored just one goal in his last 13 Premier League games there, having managed 10 goals in his previous 13 home appearances before this run.

One teammate who has enjoyed playing at the Theatre of Dreams lately is forward Alejandro Garnacho, who has scored four goals in his last three Premier League games there (braces vs Aston Villa & West Ham), having scored just once in his first 20 home appearances.

Unlike United, Fulham have endured a frustrating start to 2024, only winning one of their five Premier League games (two draws, two defeats) since beating Arsenal on New Year’s Eve.

Marco Silva’s men were beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa last time out, failing to build on Rodrigo Muniz’s second-half strike as Ollie Watkins’ brace proved decisive. That was just Fulham’s second loss in their last eight Premier League home games (five wins, one draw), but they have struggled on the road.

Indeed, Fulham have won just 24% of their Premier League points in away games this season (7/29), the worst ratio in the division, failing to win in 11 road trips since beating Everton on Matchday 1 (four draws, seven defeats).

There was plenty of concern at Craven Cottage when Raúl Jiménez suffered a thigh injury last month, but Muniz’s form has been a bright spot in the Mexican’s absence. He has scored in Fulham’s last three league games, netting four of his team’s six goals in that run, having previously gone 23 league matches without a goal for both Fulham and Middlesbrough.

He could face competition on Saturday, with the latest team news suggesting that Armando Broja will be available after missing out with illness last week, but Fulham will be without arguably their most important player after João Palhinha received his 10th yellow card of the season to land a two-match ban.

Last campaign, Fulham lost all three of their Premier League games in which he didn’t appear, while their average goals conceded per game went up from 1.2 with Palhinha to 3.3 without him. In 2023-24, they have won two of three matches without the Portuguese, though their average goals conceded per game rises from 1.5 to 2.3 when he is absent.

Manchester United vs Fulham Head-to-Head

Fulham supporters don’t have many fond memories of facing Manchester United. The Red Devils are unbeaten in the teams’ last 16 league meetings, winning 13 and drawing three since a 3-0 loss at Craven Cottage in December 2009.

Indeed, the Cottagers have lost 13 of their 16 previous Premier League games at Old Trafford, with their only away win over United in the competition coming under Chris Coleman in October 2003 (two draws).

Fernandes scored the only goal of the return fixture in November, beating Bernd Leno one minute into stoppage time following a poor clearance from Palhinha.

Fulham 1-0 Manchester United

Fulham did upset Arsenal at Craven Cottage on New Year’s Eve, but only once have they won consecutive Premier League games against teams that finished the previous season inside the top four.

That pair of victories came back in 2009, when Roy Hodgson oversaw wins over Liverpool and United.

Recent Form

Manchester United have won six of their seven games across all competitions in 2024, with the exception being a 2-2 Premier League draw with Tottenham in mid-January. The first two of those wins did come in cup competitions against lower league opposition (Wigan and Newport County), but they have since enjoyed victories over Wolves, West Ham, Aston Villa and Luton in the Premier League.

They have shown considerable improvement in attack lately, scoring 17 goals across their last seven league matches at a rate of 2.4 per game. They averaged just one goal per game in their first 18 league matches of 2023-24, netting 18 times.

Since beating Arsenal 2-1 at Craven Cottage on 31 December, Fulham have won just once in five Premier League games. A defeat to Chelsea in their opening league game of 2024 was followed by successive draws versus Everton and Burnley before they defeated Bournemouth 3-1 at home. Last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa at Craven Cottage meant that they have kept a clean sheet in just one of their last nine Premier League encounters.

They did end a run of five straight away defeats in the Premier League on their last road trip, though that was still a disappointment as they squandered two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Burnley.

With five points from 12 away trips, bottom club Sheffield United are the only team with a worse away record in the Premier League than Fulham (seven points) this term.

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 this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Manchester United vs Fulham Prediction

Manchester United vs Fulham Prediction

With Tottenham not in action this weekend due to Chelsea’s involvement in the EFL Cup final, Manchester United have a chance to land another blow in the battle for a top-four finish.

They are expected to do exactly that, winning 50.9% of the 10,000 pre-match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer. Fulham are given a 21.7% chance of victory, with the likelihood of a draw rated at 27.4%.

Before last Sunday’s win at Luton, the Opta supercomputer projections gave United a 6.5% chance of gate-crashing the top four. Their hopes are now up to 11.1%, which is below the Aston Villa (53.1%) and Spurs (34.2%) but now well ahead of Newcastle (1.0%) and Brighton (0.9%).

Fulham, meanwhile, make the top half in just 4.4% of season simulations and are only relegated in 0.7%. Thirteenth (23.7%) is deemed their most likely final position.

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