Fulham are in Manchester for the second occasion in seven days and this time they meet Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the FA Cup fourth round. Last Saturday they were comfortably beaten 2-0 by City to continue their poor run of form. The Cottagers have picked up only one win in nine matches in all competitions and that streak includes four defeats.
Martin Jol’s side have won just twice away from home in the league all season and that includes a 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the campaign. That took United’s total to 18 goals in their past six matches with Fulham, while they have conceded almost two goals per game in their past six league games.
Add that to United’s six straight home league victories in which they have scored 15 times and you can see why Fulham fans will be fearing the worst ahead of their trip north.
Manchester United’s 2-1 win at Anfield earlier in the season was shrouded with controversy as a late Robin van Persie strike ensured the visitors left with all three points. The major point of discussion was a coming together between Jonjo Shelvey and Jonny Evans in which the Reds midfielder was dismissed.
Van Persie’s winner arrived from the penalty spot in the 81st minute to continue the trend of late goals in this fixture. Last season’s two league meetings between these rivals arrived in the 80th and 81st minute respectively. Even United’s FA Cup clashes with Liverpool have involved late strikes and Dirk Kuyt’s winner last year came in the 88th minute. The one exception in recent seasons was in the 2010/11 FA Cup when Ryan Giggs scored the only goal of the game in the 2nd minute.
The final match goal in Man United’s previous five league games with the Reds has arrived after the 80th minute and the average time currently stands at 83 minutes ahead of Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson was left bemoaning his side’s complacency in the second half of the 3-1 win against Sunderland that could have cost the league leaders dear. In the end it didn’t matter and Nemanja Vidic made a welcomed return to the pitch hoping to plug up some of the problems at the back. At least United have not conceded first in their past two league games and they head to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday lunch-time.
United’s past two opening strikes have arrived in the 16th minute for any spread punters looking at the time of the visitor’s first match goal. In contrast, the Swans have conceded first in their previous two outings and they did so in the 16th minute in their most recent home league game against Norwich.
Those looking at the time of Swansea’s first match goal might be interested to learn that they failed to find the back of the net in both league games against United last season. The average time of United’s first goal in both games arrived in the 20th minute.
Manchester United continue their European campaign by welcoming Portugal’s Sporting Braga to Old Trafford looking to maintain their 100% start to Group H. As it stands Sir Alex Ferguson’s side lead the way by three points and another maximum haul would leave them in an almost unassailable position to qualify.
If Braga were not already facing a tough enough situation, United have never lost in Manchester to a Portuguese opponent. United have faced Portuguese sides at home eleven times in their history and they have won on eight occasions, drawing the remaining three contests.
Braga fans might well argue that two of those stalemates came in last season’s competition as United failed to beat Benfica home and away. Results this season haven’t been the strongest for Braga, although they still find themselves in third place. They have played eleven matches across all competitions and have won just four of those to date.
With England safely through to the Euro 2012 finals, the Premier League is back on the agenda and this weekend’s action gets underway at Anfield. The league leaders visit their bitter rivals on Saturday lunchtime looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. However, it will not be easy against a Reds side that has won their past three games across all competitions.
The clubs won their respective home league games against one another last term and total goal buyers on Saturday will be hoping for more of the same. There were nine goals scored in the two league encounters during last campaign. Total goal buyers have done well from United v Liverpool games in recent outings and there have been at least three goals in six of the past seven league matches. The average number of goals per game during that period currently stands at 3.6.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side also lead the way in the scoring charts and have netted 24 times since August in the league.