Premier League Preview: Fulham vs. Manchester United

Leave a comment
  • Fulham have only beaten United three times in 24 Premier League games
  • Manchester United have won the last five league games between the sides
  • The Red Devils are seeking consecutive wins for the first time this season

On Saturday at Craven Cottage Fulham host Manchester United (11am ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) as the West London club look to spring an upset over their illustrious opponents.

Martin Jol’s men were beaten by Southampton last weekend and put in a real lackluster display. If they’re going to get anything from Saturday’s encounter at the Cottage, they’ll need to be at their very best.

As for United, David Moyes’ men grabbed a late comeback win against Stoke City with Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez both heading home to save the Red Devils from dropping more points at Old Trafford.

Fulham boss Martin Jol must be feeling the heat after giving himself some breathing space with wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke. However a big loss to United and a poor display will only heap more pressure on the Dutchman, as new American owner Shadid Khan stays ominously quite in the background.

United will have one eye on their Champions League clash against Real Sociedad on Tuesday and may rest a few players, but make no mistake about it, this is a game Moyes can’t afford to lose as his side sit eight points behind Arsenal at the summit.

Injury wise, Fulham will be without striker Hugo Rodallega and captain Brede Hangeland, while United’s Danny Welbeck is still out.

What they’re saying

Martin Jol on United’s struggles: “I think David Moyes is a terrific manager. If you look at the players it’s the same players [as last season], plus Marouane Fellaini. They’ve got all the choices in the world on the flank, they’ve got Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney is back in business, so I think there is no problem over there. He [Moyes] needs probably a couple of weeks to get his own ideas across, like at Everton where he played his own style. It’s a bit different probably from Sir Alex Ferguson but I think there’s no problem there. The only thing is, you need the points, you need results, because I think they are title contenders so for them it’s probably a totally different perspective than for Fulham.”

David Moyes on his sides injury problems easing: “I think both (Vidic and Ferdinand) are very close to full fitness. They showed that in midweek when playing Premier League opposition. They both played for 90 minutes so I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be ready to be selected or involved. Van Persie has been fine. He’s trained well and worked quite well this week so hopefully he will be okay. Welbeck has had a bit of fluid on his knee. He’s trained for a few days this week so he’s certainly getting much closer to match fitness but won’t travel to Fulham this weekend.”

Prediction

I am going to shock a few people here and go for a draw. Okay, maybe that won’t surprise you this year with United’s struggles, but the Red Devils should sweep the Cottagers aside. Rooney and RVP are the difference makers, but if they’re having an off day Untied are struggling. Only five different players have scored in the league for United this year, 13 had done so at this point last year. If Fulham can stay solid, they can nick a goal from a set piece or a moment of brilliance from Dimitar Berbatov. This will be a dramatic one down by the River Thames.

Report: Arsenal interested in Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal is monitoring the progress of Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

The rumor does make sense. With Petr Cech at 34 years old and having a poor season in front of net and backup David Ospina failing to challenge him for the starting job, the Gunners are looking elsewhere to bring in a potential future starter.

Schmeichel has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the past two seasons. Last season he led the Foxes to the Premier League title, organizing a stunningly good defensive line of patchwork players. This season, the defense has largely regressed and let Schmeichel down, but he has still performed well and has the metrics to remain one of the league’s top shot-stoppers.

The Danish keeper is 30 years old himself, but that puts him in his prime for a goalkeeper. He has been with Leicester City since 2011, and he will tick 250 appearances for the club with his next match. Schmeichel was rumored to be a member of the secret player delegation that worked hard to see Claudio Ranieri pushed out of the club, a sentiment which he and the other players have strongly denied.

Still, with an improbable Premier League title in hand and an appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals now on the cards, there probably isn’t much else for him at Leicester City. It’s possible Schmeichel could look to bank on his past performances and secure a move to a bigger club this summer.

Should Arsene Wenger stay with Arsenal past this season, a possibility that looks more and more likely, he could look to move on from Cech despite signing the former Chelsea goalkeeper just two summers ago.

Diego Costa injured, but will stay with Spain squad for friendly

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea striker Diego Costa pulled up in Spain training on Sunday, and with the Blues in first in the Premier League and Costa in great form, there were obvious concerns.

With Costa struggling with leg and ankle injuries, the RFEF informed Chelsea that there was an issue, and Costa was pulled from training and sent for tests. X-Rays at the local hospital in Madrid were negative, and he’s rejoined the squad.

According to the RFEF, doctors will continue to monitor the 28-year-old and he will continue with the national team for the rest of the international break. With a World Cup qualification win over Israel already in the books and just a friendly against France to go on Tuesday, it’s odd that Spain would risk Costa moving forward, but they will continue to keep him around.

Costa has scored 18 goals this season to lead the Blues, and he scored in the win over Israel. Spain takes on France in Saint-Denis on Tuesday, with both teams leading their World Cup qualification groups. Spain has a goal-differential lead on Italy with both teams miles above the rest of the Group G, and France is ahead of Sweden by three points in Group A, with the Netherlands back in fourth.

Foul or flop? Player “headbutts” referee, is sent off

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Well, there must be something in the water down in Brasilia, because things got a little weird this evening.

Flamengo drew with Vasco da Gama 2-2, but that was just the start.

In the 54th minute, with Vasco da Gama leading 1-0 at Estadio Nacional Mané Garrincha, 36-year-old Luis Fabiano was sent off for “headbutting” the referee. Headbutting is in quotes because looking at the video, it certainly appears there was little to no contact, and the referee flops.

Yes, the referee flopped. Take a look:

To be fair, Fabiano was already on a yellow, so getting in the referee’s face even without the headbutt/pelvic thrust would likely still have seen him sent to an early shower.

So the former Porto and Sevilla man was sent off, and Vasco da Gama was down to 10 men. Immediately after the red card, Flamengo took advantage, powering in a pair of goals via Willian Arao and Orlando Berrio to take the lead 2-1. But Vasco wouldn’t quit, and they earned a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, which Nene buried for the 2-2 draw.

To top things off, a player named Yago Pikachu scored the opener for Vasco da Gama, which was followed by a delay in the game seven minutes later after a power surge in the stadium. Go figure.

Lletget diagnosed with foot sprain, escaping further damage

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Word has arrived from the LA Galaxy camp that will see USMNT fans feel relieved as Sebastian Lletget has escaped the news many feared.

The young attacker was impressive in the first 18 minutes of the United States’ 6-0 win over Honduras, but was injured minutes after scoring the opening goal and could not continue. Replays showed that Lletget got his foot caught underneath a defender in the process of a hard challenge on the right wing.

There was concern that Lletget would be out for a significant amount of time, but the Galaxy announced that after testing over the weekend, Lletget did not suffer any structural damage and was diagnosed with a left foot sprain.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Paul Arreola to roster, drops Lletget, Brooks, Morris ]

Lletget will visit a specialist on Monday to determine a plan for recovery, and it’s possible that he will still have to miss some time in the near future. The Galaxy visit Vancouver on Saturday, and his status for that match has to be considered up in the air. They then host Montreal on April 7.

While Lletget obviously misses out on the next USMNT game at Panama on Tuesday having already been dumped from the roster, he will most definitely be available for the June games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and will likely be an option for Bruce Arena given the manager’s history with Lletget at Los Angeles.

The United States have been struck with a collection of injuries that all occurred just before the international break, hampering the squad significantly. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Fabian Johnson all went down in the days before reporting for international duty, and the team lost Lletget and John Brooks in the Honduras win. Lletget’s departure could see Alejandro Bedoya into the starting lineup on Tuesday, with the Union midfielder having replaced Lletget in the Honduras match. Also in contention is Jermaine Jones, who could come in after his suspension and push Darlington Nagbe onto the wing.