Manchester United vs Fulham – Predicted starting XI

by Tom Newbold

After four days break in Qatar, Manchester United will now look to gather themselves for an assault on all three competitions they are left in. As they look to build momentum, Sir Alex Ferguson faces a selection headache for the FA Cup fixture against Fulham with virtually his whole squad fit.

Team

Anders Lindegaard – Lindegaard has been restricted to just one appearance in the FA Cup recently and this fourth round tie may be another chance for the Dane to show his worth in goal.

Phil Jones – The in-form Jones is a likely choice for right-back with the option to save Rafael for the upcoming run of fixtures.

Chris Smalling – With most of United’s defenders fully fit, this tie may be an opportunity for Smalling to play against his former club.

Nemanja Vidic – Ferguson may choose to mix and match youth with experience whilst also allowing for the steady return of Jonny Evans from injury, who was confirmed as not yet 100% on Friday. This hints at Vidic starting against Fulham with Ferguson saving Rio Ferdinand for a reunion with Evans in the next fixture.

Alexander Büttner – The ever-learning Dutchman has been given plenty of opportunities outside of Premier League fixtures this season. Büttner will probably start against Fulham with Patrice Evra being saved, like Rafael, for the upcoming heavy fixture-load.

Nani – The enigmatic Portuguese star could be given the chance to continue his quest for match fitness with another cup game.

Anderson – The Brazilian could play a vital part in United’s coming games. When fit and at his best, Anderson offers something different to any other United player. It is essential he gets games to reach his top form, meaning he may get to feature in this tie.

Tom Cleverley A clear first-team player now, Cleverley’s youth and energy has proved useful in cup games this season. Cleverley also has a history of a good partnership with Anderson as shown in the Premier League tie with Fulham earlier this season.

Ryan Giggs – With Ashley Young not quite reaching full fitness yet, Ryan Giggs could get a game out wide after not playing for ten days.

Wayne Rooney – It is now wide knowledge that Rooney in particular needs successive games to reach his top form, so it would be a huge surprise if England’s main man was not included for this match.

Javier Hernandez – The Mexican has been in impressive form this season, and is therefore likely to get another opportunity to play after no game-time for a week and a half.

Fulham FA CupFormation

A narrow diamond formation appears a possibility given United’s current wealth of central options, and the tendency of Ferguson to use it in cup games. On the other hand, the opportunity to give Nani in particular game time may be the factor that leads Ferguson to select a more orthodox 4-4-2. Anderson and Cleverley match each other well in a 4-4-2 as well with their complimentary passing styles.

This potential set-up will give the chance for some players to continue in their return from injury, namely Rooney, Nani and Anderson. Meanwhile, there will be further opportunities for youngsters like Jones and Smalling to prove their worth whilst more experienced players such as van Persie, Evra, Carrick, and Ferdinand are saved for future games.

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