Fulham and Manchester United cap their pre-World Cup campaigns with an encounter at Craven Cottage today where a victory for the hosts would push them to within a point of the Red Devils ahead of the break. But can the Cottagers take a big scalp without the services of injured star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic?
You can find our stats pack for this afternoon’s contest below, which is packed to bursting with info on shots, shots on target, xG, cards, corners and more from the sides’ Premier League seasons so far. Take what you need from our research and my Stats Pack Guide to construct smarter bet builders for the game.
Fulham will be without injured pair Neeskens Kebano and Manor Solomon this afternoon, though the absence of Aleksandar Mitrovic feels more significant. Carlos Vinicius could lead the line for the Cottagers instead of Mitrovic today.
Elsewhere, Kenny Tete and Harrison Reed are both suspended, though Bobby De Cordova-Reid is available again having served a ban.
Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe are still sidelined with injuries while Diogo Dalot is suspended following an accumulation of bookings. Bruno Fernandes is available to feature again following a one-game ban.
Tyrell Malacia could slot in at right back, though mystery still surrounds the availability of wingers Jadon Sancho and Antony. Erik ten Hag must choose between Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Martial for the central striker role.
Fulham’s five-match unbeaten run was halted deep into injury time at ten-man Manchester City last weekend, though the Cottagers held onto their top half position despite their defeat and their underlying stats for the campaign make for promising reading.
Tipped as relegation certainties by many, Fulham have held their own in the top tier so far where they rank 10th for shots (13.00) and joint-10th for shots on target for per 90. The Cottagers have collected a joint-league-high 36 cards however – the same number as today’s opponents, Manchester United.
With three clean sheets in their last five league assignments and the fourth-best xG against figures in the division (1.57 p/90), Man Utd have been making strides defensively, though they have still looked well below par further up the pitch.
11 clubs have trumped United for shots per 90 (14.69) this term, while the Red Devils are also way down in 11th position for xG (1.71 p/90). As we touched on above, United have also been picking up plenty of cards and 21 of the 36 yellows they’ve collected were amassed on the road.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Aleksandar Mitrovic is a talismanic figure for Fulham and the Serbian international has dominated both the shots (4.60) and shots on target (1.50) per 90 metrics for the Cottagers this term.
In Mitrovic’s absence, Willian (1.90 shots per 90) and former Red Devil Andreas Pereira (1.41) will hope to pick up the mantle. Willian had four attempts in Fulham’s last home fixture against Everton.
United have missed the penetration offered by Antony (3.67 shots p/90) from the right flank in recent weeks, though Marcus Rashford (2.61) is enjoying a resurgence and the 25-year-old clocked a combined 14 shots in his last five league appearances.
Bruno Fernandes (2.00 p/90) has mustered at least one attempt in six of his last seven league runouts, while youngster Alejandro Garnacho could be worth watching if he sees minutes.
Player Goals and Assists
With nine-goal Aleksandar Mitrovic in the stands, Fulham’s next-highest scorer in the league is fullback Bobby De Cordova-Reid with three. Andreas Pereira (four assists) has been a key creative force and he’ll be on spot-kick duty today if Fulham win one.
Four of Fulham’s last eight goals at Craven Cottage have been either penalties or own goals. Kenny Tete and Neeskens Kebano have three assists each this term, though both are absent today. Brazilian frontman Carlos Vinícius has yet to break his duck for Fulham.
United have scored one or fewer goals in four of their last six Premier League matches and their consolation effort at Aston Villa last weekend came via an own goal from Jacob Ramsey.
Five different players provided United’s last five league goals, though Marcus Rashford has scored three times in his last five appearances in all competitions. Fit-again Anthony Martial has a goal contribution every 32.25 in the league this season and the Frenchman scored against Villa in the Carabao Cup on Thursday.
Several of Fulham’s most-prolific card merchants are missing today, though the Cottagers aren’t short of decent caution candidates elsewhere, particularly in midfield where Joao Palhinha and Andreas Pereira are lurking.
Holding midfielder Palhinha has been booked five times already this term, while Andreas Pereira has collected three yellows. At right-back Bobby de Cordova-Reid (1.44 fouls p/90) is worth keeping an eye on. The 29-year-old was been hitting attackers hard this term and he has been cautioned a notable five times for his indiscretions.
The routinely nibbled Bruno Fernandes (fouled 1.58 times p/90) usually spends a good chunk of games clutching his ankles on the ground and his compatriot Palhinha won’t go easy on his international teammate today, even with the World Cup on the horizon.
Keen to impress against his old club, Andreas Pereira could leave his mark on a few opponents, including fellow Brazilian Casemiro (fouled 1.10 times p/90), while Marcus Rashford is playing with enough confidence to draw mistimed tackles from De Cordova-Reid.
Match-Ups to watch
Joao Palhinha vs Bruno Fernandes
Andreas Pereira vs Casemiro
Bobby de Cordova-Reid vs Marcus Rashford
Man United Cards
The juiciest pickings in the card market for United today are all found in Erik ten Hag’s defensive line where a trio of tough tacklers all look capable of irking referee Paul Tierney.
Luke Shaw (1.69 fouls p/90) has been booked three times in nine league appearances this term and the 27-year-old can be cynical when tested. On the opposite side, Tyrell Malacia (two yellows) is very one footed (left) and he could have an awkward afternoon at right back.
Lisandro Martinez (three cards) has already earned the nickname “The Butcher” in England since his summer switch from Ajax and he could live up to his moniker again today.
Carlos Vinicius could get another chance to shine today and while the Brazilian has struggled for game time, he has been fouled 1.54 times per 90 minutes and Argentinean tough nut Lisandro Martinez will enjoy pressurising him today.
On the flanks, experienced campaigner Willian (fouled 1.0 times per 90) has the nous to trouble Malacia, who could be in an unfamiliar position at Craven Cottage. On the opposite side, Harry Wilson could be knocked about by a more physically imposing Luke Shaw.
Match-Ups to watch
Luke Shaw vs Harry Wilson
Tyrell Malacia vs Willian
Lisandro Martinez vs Carlos Vinicius