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Ranieri baffled by Fulham start at Man Utd: “The wolves ate the lambs”

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Claudio Ranieri is wondering what it’s going to take to come out of the gates strong after his Fulham side was humbled by Manchester United on Saturday.

Reading his words after the 4-1 loss, it seems he’s wondering how a team can’t answer the bell, at Old Trafford, with relegation becoming an increasing threat to the London-based club.

[ MORE: Match recap | Mourinho, Mata react ]

The almost always quotable Fulham manager entertained a bit more than his did in attempting to explain the loss. From the BBC:

“In the first half we were shy, we were waiting. Why? Why were we waiting? Go, play football. Then, if they score, it is normal. I want my team to play and fight for every single ball. In the second half, we did. Why we didn’t in the first half, I need to speak with my players.”

“In the first half it was 11 lambs against 11 wolves. The wolves ate the lambs.”

Fulham remain 20th in the table, with a league-worst goal differential of minus-26. The Cottagers host West Ham before heading away to Newcastle in two matches in which they’ll be hoping to collect points.

Manchester United breaks out versus Fulham

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  • Young scores beauty [ VIDEO ]
  • Mata, Lukaku make it 3-0 at half
  • Pogba an unused sub
  • United moves sixth

Manchester United, and Old Trafford specifically, needed this.

Four different Red Devils hit the score sheet as Manchester United beat Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku, and Ashley Young all scored for United, who moves sixth with 26 points.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa was sent off for Fulham, while Aboubakar Kamara won and scored a penalty for the Cottagers.

Fulham remains 20th with nine points and now has a league-worst minus-24 goal differential.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

The goal scoring started with a beauty, as left back Ashley Young nutmegged a defender and cut into the 18 to belt a shot into the far post (See top of post for video).

It was 2-0 through Mata, the Spaniard running to the top of the 18 to meet a Marcus Rashford cutback before Lukaku got into the act off a Mata assist. 3-0 at the break.

Fulham got on the board in the second half, when Ander Herrera fouled Aboubakar Kamara in the box.

Kamara converted his chance to make it 3-1, but Anguissa saw red within minutes to dent any new hopes for the Cottagers.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Watch Live: Man United, Arsenal in action; five 10am ET games

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Five Premier League games take place at 10 a.m ET on Saturday, with the reigning champions Manchester City in action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Man United host Fulham, Huddersfield head to Arsenal, Crystal Palace travel to West Ham, Burnley host Brighton and Southampton go to Cardiff City.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for all five games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Manchester United v. Fulham – NBCSN [STREAM
10 a.m. ET: Arsenal v. Huddersfield Town – CNBC [STREAM
10 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM
10 a.m. ET: Cardiff City v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham v. Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

PL Preview: Manchester United vs Fulham

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  • Man United has won 21 of 23 home matches against Fulham
  • Fulham has won just once at Old Trafford in any competition
  • Fulham has lost six straight PL road games

Manchester United returns home a wounded animal as the Red Devils host Fulham on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Red Devils have not won in Premier League play in over a month, without victory since a visit to Bournemouth in early November. They are set to take on an opponent they have had much success against in the past, having lost just once at home against Fulham in 23 matches.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

With pressure heaped on Jose Mourinho – needing a vote of confidence via the boss’s own agent to quiet the noise – Fulham could do significant damage to the Portuguese manager should they achieve a rare result at Old Trafford. It would also be a significant boost to the Whites’ relegation battle, currently sitting bottom of the table with nine points, below Southampton and Burnley on goal differential.

Claudio Ranieri has come on board in place of the departed Slavisa Jokanovic and done well to steady the ship, earning four points in his first three matches in charge, instilling a greater defensive discipline within the squad. Still, the Whites have the league’s worst defensive record by a considerable margin, and could be just what the doctor ordered for a Manchester United team that has scored five goals over the four-match winless run.

Manchester United comes into the match with significant questions on the injury front, with Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones all facing an uphill battle to prove fit. Alexis Sanchez and Victor Lindelof have both already been ruled out with longer term problems. Fulham, meanwhile, looks likely to have both Kevin McDonald and Floyd Ayite back fit, although Timothy Fosu-Mensah is not eligible to face his parent club.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Fulham: “The game is not eleven versus zero, it’s going to be eleven versus eleven, with good players on the other side, the position and points [total] don’t say much about [the] potential of the team. They have one of the two most important managers in Premier League history, they have the potential to come here and give us a difficult match.”

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri on Jose Mourinho: “He was the first who sent me a message to say welcome back. He is a very friendly friend. I know him for a long time, when he came to Chelsea and in Italy, and he was very polite with me. He’s a great man, coach, manager.”

Prediction

This is a tough one to predict, as many possibilities are in play. Manchester United could succumb to its most embarrassing defeat of the season if Ranieri can devise a plan to take advantage of a wounded squad, or the talent of the Red Devils could prove too much for a Fulham side that is only recently beginning to build confidence. The latter is more likely, and the young internationals at the head of the United attack will hold serve at home for a 2-1 victory and leave Fulham still with more work to do in the relegation battle.

Matchweek 16 Premier League odds: Man City favored at Chelsea

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The form points to Manchester City in a matchup against a rival it has shut out thrice in succession.

Manchester City is the -105 away favorite on this week’s Premier League odds with Chelsea coming back at +300, while the draw is +270 on the three-way moneyline and there is a 3.0-goals total for Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Something will have to give; Chelsea is undefeated in its last 11 home matches in the league, but Manchester City has won 11 of its last 13 away matches and has kept a clean sheet against Chelsea in their last three matchups in all competitions.

The hectic pre-Christmas schedule will make for some heavily rotated starting elevens, with Chelsea not expected to have Ross Barkley (ankle) while Manchester City could be minus stalwarts Kevin De Bruyne (knee) and Vincent Kompany (fatigue). That could lead to an even contest with offense at each end, and Man City win/yes (+200) offers good value in the both-teams-to-score props.

Gabriel Jesus (+400 first scorer, +125 anytime) might feature at forward for Manchester City.

Elsewhere, Bournemouth (+450) has defeated Liverpool (-165, draw +355) only once in 13 tries and while there is a 3.0-goals total, the host Cherries have had their last six matches go OVER 2.5 goals. Liverpool should be on the attack as it strives to stay in contact with first-place Manchester City, and this could be an excellent chance to take Mo Salah (+350 first scorer, -110 anytime), although Roberto Firmino (+550, +170) offers a better payout and has a stronger recent history against Bournemouth.

Manchester United (-280) has not lost at home against Fulham (+850, draw +425) since 2003, but anything seems possible for the Jose Mourinho-led Reds. Eight of Manchester United’s last nine league games have been OVER 2.5 goals and Fulham has lost its last six away games, so there is betting value in a straight both-teams-to-score prop (-125) and Manchester United Win/Yes (+175).

Leicester City (+290) and Tottenham Hotspur (even, draw +255) have gone OVER 2.5 goals in their last three matchups (all competitions), and the visiting Spurs with James Maddison (+800 first scorer, +250 anytime) emerging as a complement to Harry Kane (+280, -120 respectively) are one of the most potent offensive teams in the league. Both-teams-to-score bettors should give some thought to “yes” options that are tied to a Spurs win.

Newcastle (+195) hosts Wolverhampton (+165, draw +210) in a Sunday matchup, with the Wolves having had an eight-day break to prepare. Newcastle has lost six of its home games in the league and Wolverhampton has scored in five of seven away games. The Yes/Over 2.5 (+175) prop might be the best percentage play in a match between inconsistent sides.

And Everton (-130) takes on Watford (+400, draw +285) in a Monday matchup, with Everton manager Marco Silva game-planning for a team that he helmed not so long ago. The Toffees have gone UNDER 2.5 goals in their last four matchups, but an extra prep day might lead to slightly more offensive fireworks.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.