After playing three games in just five days, Manchester United are back in action on Tuesday, where they host Scott Parker‘s already-relegated Fulham in their attempt to solidify second place in the Premier League and gain momentum ahead of their Europa League final at the end of the month.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s side come into this match after two losses on the bounce for the first time since the beginning of November. However, three points is all they need in order to acquire a second place finish this season.Embed from Getty Images
A return to winning ways will be vital for the Reds, who have not lost three league games in a row since December 2015, but it will also be vital for the 10,000 fans who are welcomed back into Old Trafford for the first time since the 8th of March 2020.
The match will be shown live on Sky Sports, with coverage beginning from 17:30 BST. Lee Mason takes charge of the affair with Simon Hooper operating VAR at Stockley Park.
While United have lost their last two games, they would’ve felt hard done by after the harsh rescheduling of their encounter with Liverpool. They lost out to Liverpool and Leicester City, however, Solskjær fielded a second string team against the FA Cup champions.
Before these two matches, the Reds had last lost in the league in January and had progressed to the final of the Europa League, beating AS Roma over two legs in the semi-final.Embed from Getty Images
They need to return to winning ways in order to build some momentum for their cup final in Poland, while Fulham have nothing to play for but their pride after they were relegated following their 2-0 defeat to Burnley last week.
The boss has confirmed that Harry Maguire remains unfit after he hobbled off during the 3-1 win against Aston Villa last week. Solskjær is hopeful that he will be back for the final in Poland. Phil Jones is also unavailable for this fixture.
Anthony Martial has returned to first-team training, but it is unlikely that he will be fit enough to return to action in this matchup.
For the visitors, Tom Cairney is yet to return from a knee injury he sustained in December and Alfie Mawson and Terence Kongolo are still recovering from long-term injuries. Kevin McDonald will also miss out on the visit to Old Trafford.
Ones to watch
After a difficult beginning to the season, Mason Greenwood has come into his own in recent months. The teenager has scored six in his last seven league matches and will be looking to extend his impressive goalscoring record of late in this game.Embed from Getty Images
He started as a substitute in the 4-2 loss against Liverpool, so it is likely that the 19-year-old starts in this encounter at Old Trafford.
While it is possible that the likes of Paul Pogba or Edinson Cavani have a part to play in the match, there is also a chance that Solskjær uses different members of his squad in order to keep everyone fresh following a hectic season.
The likes of Amad could be gifted with more minutes, after he impressed in his full Premier League debut, assisting Greenwood’s goal against the Foxes.
For the visitors, Ademola Lookman has been a standout player on the left-flank this season. He has four goals and four assists in the league this season – he could cause a problem for the Reds.
Securing a steady improvement
A win in this match does not only mean a second-place finish for Solskjaer’s Reds, it also shows a steady improvement for Manchester United.
Old Trafford had not seen Champions League football for two seasons in a row since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, and that has already been secured under Solskjaer this season. With a third place last season though, finishing second will show a steady improvement from last campaign.Embed from Getty Images
Of course, with teams like Chelsea and Liverpool likely to improve next season, there is no time to sit and admire the improvements made under the Norwegian, but a win at Old Trafford against Fulham will at least show that steady improvement that we’ve lacked under previous managers.