Manchester United’s pursuit of a 20th Premier League title has started badly, but a home fixture with Fulham should be a starting point for their season to begin. Fulham will not be taken lightly after a 5-0 opening day victory over Norwich, but have suffered with off-field problems this week.
Clint Dempsey has been trying to force a move to Liverpool and Fulham have allegedly sent a complaint to the Premier League over the situation. The American will not feature at Old Trafford, but Martin Jol has plenty of attacking options to worry United’s defence. Mladen Petric, the summer signing from Hamburg, scored twice on the opening day and will be supported by young attacker Alex Kacaniklic and Costa Rican winger Bryan Ruiz.
Jol’s only worries are Kerim Frei’s pelvis problem and Phillippe Senderos suffering with a foot injury, but the Dutchman is not expected to change his side. Fulham have not won at Old Trafford since 2003, but their best chance may come this season, especially since United have injury worries.
The United backline has been severely depleted with four first-team defenders struck down by problems. Rio Ferdinand’s groin problem, Jonny Evans’ ankle worry, Phil Jones’ back spasms and a toe injury to Chris Smalling have deemed them all unavailable for at least the first month. Michael Carrick is expected to deputise once again at centre-half alongside Nemanja Vidic, a combination that did not work against Everton on Monday night as they lost 1-0 at Goodison Park.
New summer signing Robin van Persie may start alongside Wayne Rooney up front for his first start since his £24m move from Arsenal. Sir Alex Ferguson will take heart from the fact that on two of the three occasions United have lost on the opening day, they have gone on to win the title. His strike combination, which scored 57 goals last season, should get into gear at Fulham’s expense on Saturday.