Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Tuesday December 20 2011
Our second home game in less than a week will see us welcome the reigning champions Manchester United.
United arriving at Craven Cottage is always an eagerly anticipated fixture, there`s just something magical about it.
Having beaten Bolton on Saturday, Martin Jol will be keen to keep the momentum going but the camp will be well aware that United are a completely different proposition to a struggling Bolton side.
Can we win? Just wait and see!
As mentioned later in this preview, Bryan Ruiz is starting to make an impact and ahead of the game against United, Martin Jol has compared him to a certain Spaniard plying his trade just down the road and how they make all the difference remarking,
"It`s about players who can make a difference and you saw against Everton, Arsenal and Bolton that he can make a difference."
"His best position is probably infield in a 4-3-3 - like Mata."
"We didn`t pay as much as people think for him, but it was probably three times that for an average player. If you want to have him, you have to pay a lot."
Martin Jol takes his squad into this match without the injured Mark Schwarzer, David Stockdale will deputise. Also missing will be long term injury victim Zdenek Grygera whilst the midfield duo of Simon Davies and Steve Sidwell are also likely to miss out.
But, there should be a welcome return for Bobby Zamora after the striker missed our last two Premier League games for varying reasons.
His brilliant goal last time out has whetted the appetite. Has the Costa Rican finally adapted to life in the Premier League? A fixture against Manchester united is the stage to confirm our suspicions!
Sir Alex Ferguson has been suffering from something that is the bane of a manager`s life - injuries. The reigning champions have a plethora of stars out injured with Darren Fletcher, with his debilitating illness the latest to join a long list that currently includes, Michael Owen, Anderson, Nemanja Vidic, Tom Cleverley and Rafael da Silva
Last time out, against Queens Park Rangers, Javier Hernandez returned form injury, will he start? We suspect not as we reckon Danny Welbeck will hang onto his first team spot.
Don`t you just wish this lad was in our team? That sort of says it all does it not!
After being something of a safe haven for Manchester united, Craven Cottage has turned into something of a bogey ground in recent years.
United have gone from being undefeated in the first seven Premier League visits to Craven Cottage to not winning in the last three, in fact the stats show they`ve only won two of their last five against us in the Premier League - something that might surprise the neutrals amongst us.
Overall though, we`re struggling with Manchester United having won 43 of the 76 meetings between the two clubs!
The neutrals will have this down as a definite away win, but the stats from the last three seasons show we`re no pushovers. I`m of the belief that we can get something from this game. United are not the force they were, they`re a side in a mini-transition period and if we get amongst them we can get at least a draw, but a win, I`m not so sure.
Our next fixture has us resuming life on the road with a trip to some place called Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day!
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Date:Tuesday December 20 2011
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