Saturday, 9 April 2011
Calling the odds - Man Utd v Fulham
Which begs the question - who will play? Probably Kuszczak in goal, with a back line of Fabio, Smalling Vidic and Evra. Fortunately for United, Evans is suspended as Zamora has made mincemeat of him before. Depending on their fitness, O'Shea and/or Brown may get a run out in the full back position.
Midfield is a tricky kettle of fish. I think Nani and Obertan will start on the wings, with Scholes and Anderson/Gibson, depending on the Brazillian's fitness. Berbatov and Hernandez are likely to be upfront with Rooney suspended, although I wouldn't be surprised to see Owen promoted to the starting 11 to give the Mexican a rest.
The only question Fulham has is who will play instead of Duff? Under Hodgson it would have been Gera, but Hughes doesn't seem to fancy the Hungarian, so it will possibly be Davies which might see Dempsey shifting to the right wing. However another option would be moving Dembele out to the right and playing Johnson up front with Zamora.
So what does this mean? Well even with a shaken up lineup such as this, Man United should be too strong for Fulham, who haven't scored a goal at Old Trafford for five years. The three away matches I have seen Fulham play this season - Arsenal, Spurs, Everton - they have been very ordinary and such a different side to the one that plays at Craven Cottage. United are building up a head of steam and should find today fairly comfortable, as long as they are not too distracted by the upcoming match on Tuesday.
Correct Score: A tense 1-0 is widely available at 6/1. Fulham have only been beaten by more than one goal away from home once all season (yet twice at home), so they are not a team to roll over. However some places are offering 10/1 for a 3-0 victory which has some value.
First goalscorer: If Nani is playing on his favoured right wing, he will be in direct opposition to Salcido who's defending is not his strong point. If Dempsey is playing left wing then he will leave his full back exposed and Nani will have a field day. If, as I expect, Davies is played left wing then at least he will provide some protection for his full back, but I'm not sure it will still be enough. Nani is 6/1 at Bet365 and generally 5/1 elsewhere. If Valencia starts on the right wing, then he is available at 8/1 and has been playing exceptionally well since returning from injury. An outside shot would be Paul Scholes at 14/1 with Paddy Power as he has opened the scoring against Fulham a couple of times and did so in the return fixture at Craven Cottage at the start of the season.
As for Fulham, Man United have been having issues defending set pieces so Brede Hangeland (50/1 on Betfair) or more likely Clint Dempsey (35/2 Betfair again) are the likely scorers should Fulham take the lead.
Grand National: I might have a dabble on Oscar Time, but just find somewhere offering the first five places rather than the standard four and then even the long shots become viable money spinners.