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Ratings: Casemiro & Fernandes brilliant against Betis; Rashford, Antony, Fernandes & Weghorst with the goals

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Manchester United beat Real Betis 4-1 at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League. Marcus Rashford struck in the sixth minute of the match but Ayoze Perez found an equaliser in the 32nd minute. United found the lead again through Antony in the 52nd minute before Bruno Fernandes headed his effort in six minutes later. An emotional goal for Wout Weghorst in the 84th minute sealed the win. United take a three goal lead to Spain.

United started well against Betis. Wout Weghorst had the ball in the back of the net in the fifth minute after Fred played the ball into him. However, the flag was raised after the Brazilian midfielder was in an offside position when he received the ball. A minute later United took the lead. Marcus Rashford score his 26th goal of the season. Bruno Fernandes on the right crossed the ball into the box. A Betis defender got to it but Rashford then picked it up and buried his shot.

In the ninth minute, Casemiro played in inviting pass into the box with Weghorst waiting in the area. The Dutchman launched himself at the delivery trying to head the ball into the back of the net but Claudio Bravo held onto the ball to deny Weghorst from his second United goal this season. United were pressing on the right side, giving Betis some problems and it was getting tough for them to cope in the early stages of the first half. United were doing well.

In the 17th minute, Weghorst had another chance on goal after Rashford picked out the run off Luke Shaw with him delivering the ball into the near post. Weghorst then tried to side-foot the ball in-between Bravo and the post to get the second goal of the match but it flew wide of the target. A minute later, Bravo raced off his line to deny Rashford from scoring a second goal in the match. United were really trying to hit back from that devastating defeat to Liverpool.

United’s high energy was stopping Betis from getting any time on the ball so far. Weghorst had another shot on goal in the 27th minute after Antony whipped a dangerous ball into the box. The Dutchman sent his half-volley over the crossbar. Casemiro then missed the target after Raphael Varane headed the ball into his path. Betis were level in the 32nd minute as Ayoze Perez scored the equaliser with an assist from Juanmi. VAR looked for a handball but awarded the goal.

The tempo of the game started to slow after the equaliser with Betis now back in it and aiming to get something from United. In the 43rd minute, Antony had a shot on goal, which was a positive chance but Abner Vinicius made a vital intervention by sticking out his leg to block the shot from troubling Bravo. A minute was added at the end of the half but before the whistle, Vinicius had a shot on goal with Fred blocking it. It was 1-1 at the break with all to play for.

At the start of the second half Erik ten Hag made his first substitution with Aaron Wan-Bissaka replacing Diogo Dalot in the right-back position. In the 52nd minute, United restored their lead with Antony scoring his seventh goal of the season. Fernandes played the cross into the 23-year-old who then finished in the top far corner of the net to put United 2-1 up on the night. It was a brilliant finish from the Brazilian winger, who has been getting a lot of criticism on social media.

Weghorst was booked on the 56th minute after a foul, seemingly talking himself into a booking. A minute later, United were 3-1 up after a Luke Shaw corner found its way into Fernandes who was in the box waiting to receive the ball, heading it into the back of the net. United seemed unstoppable so far in this match. It was Fernandes’ eighth goal of the season and Shaw’s sixth assist of the season. Ten Hag will be much happier with what he has seen tonight.

On the hour, Betis made a double substitution with Sergio Canales and Aitor Ruibal replacing Joaquin and Luiz Henrique. Both Wan-Bissaka and Antony had chances on goal in the 60th minute, both being blocked. In the 63rd minute, Antony had a chance to get another goal, this time missing the target completely. Ten Hag then made a double change in the 66th minute with Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia replacing Rashford and Shaw. United adding to the pressure.

Betis also made a double change with Andrea Guardado and Borja Iglesias replacing Guido Rodriguez and Perez. Two minutes later, Betis had a problem with Bravo needing to rush towards the ball with Fernandes also running towards it. Bravo was left in a heap after a collision which resulted in Fernandes being booked for the challenge. Some say he was lucky not to get a red card. Casemiro and Antony both missed the target a few minutes after the card.

In the 76th minute, Weghorst had a shot on goal blocked. He was having a good game getting chances but could not make any of them count at this stage. Antony had another great chance to get a goal, launching his shot on goal with Bravo putting out a hand with the ball going out for a corner in the 70th minute. There were more changes with Willian Jose replaced Juanmi in the 81st minute with Scott McTominay and Facundo Pellistri replacing Fred and Antony in the 82nd.

It was an instant attack for United with Pellistri working well in the width, sending the ball into the box with McTominay getting a shot, it coming back off Bravo and Weghorst there to send the ball into the back of the net, scoring a fourth for United. What a finish from the hardworking Dutchman. United would take a three goal lead to Spain next week to aim for a place in the quarter final draw in the UEFA Europa League this season. Southampton next in the Premier League.

Player Ratings

David De Gea: The Spanish goalkeeper made an improvement against Betis compared to his performance against Liverpool. He was not going to be at the top of his game though but it was a start on his journey to get back up there again. Betis were lively in the first half and hit the post when they could have scored. Conceded once with Ayoze Perez’s equaliser in the 32nd minute. He was not really troubled in the second half. ★★★★★

Diogo Dalot: I thought he played well in the first half but there were times that Aaron Wan-Bissaka could have a been a better option. He got forward at times and helped in both attack and defence. I feel he has regressed a little because of his injuries this season and Wan-Bissaka is just ahead of him. His night ended the end of the first half with Wan-Bissaka replacing him at the start of the second half – keeping hims rested for the weekend maybe? ★★★★★

Raphael Varane: He was the calmest of the two central defenders and did what he needed to do pretty silently as he always does. He played further up the pitch when United were under the cosh by Betis in the first half, before and after they scored the equaliser. His partnership with Lisandro Martinez this season had been largely positive and they will have more confidence as a duo after this result. They don’t call him Champions League Varane for nothing. ★★★★★★★

Lisandro Martinez: The Argentinian made a massive improvement from Sunday’s match and was more like the player that had been earning the plaudits earlier in the season. Jamie Carragher will probably disagree that he was a positive in this match because he needs to keep banging on the Sunday drum because that won’t happen again. Martinez is a great defender, who could have signed for Arsenal, back to his best once more. ★★★★★★★

Luke Shaw: He played a good game, tuning his back from Sunday’s result. He was helping on the left flank in attack for much of the game with United in command. Got his sixth assist of the season for Bruno Fernandes’ goal in the 58th minute of the match. Ten Hag will be pleased with his performance against Betis. His night was over soon after with him being replaced by Tyrell Malacia in the 66th minute of the match – rested for Sunday? ★★★★★★

Casemiro: The injury worries from Sunday seemed to disappear this week with him back in training days after the Anfield defeat. The Casemiro that had a pad performance on Sunday disappeared too. He was a player that would miss the second leg against Betis if he was booked this evening, but that did not happen. He opened up gaps in Betis’ defence with his passing and played a very good game from the start of the match. Cracking performance. ★★★★★★★

Fred: He redeemed himself a little after that poor performance against Liverpool. He was involved in the centre of the pitch and did not really put a foot wrong but would have been on the bench if United had the likes of Christian Eriksen and Marcel Sabitzer were available for this match. He does play better with Casemiro on the pitch though. That said, his evening came to an end in the 82nd minute with Scott McTominay brought on to add more energy. ★★★★★★

Antony: The Brazilian winger has been slated by those that know it all on social media – the prophets of excrement. They seem to know everything which is always based on one poor result. They need a scapegoat I guess. Antony did well against Betis and had plenty of shots on goal. He could have had a hat-trick but settled with one good finish which restored United’s lead. He was replaced by Facundo Pellistri in the 82nd minute of the match. ★★★★★★★

Wout Weghorst: The Dutchman worked hard against Betis and had many chances on goal again. Some say he’s a terrible footballer – Hairy Hands – but he can’t be that bad if he is getting on the end of chances on goal. It seemed like it was not going to be his night again but in the 84th minute, he got his Old Trafford goal – which was an emotional one for him. His work rate, discipline and the way he opens up spaces is great for United. ★★★★★★★

Bruno Fernandes: In the first half, he was largely ineffective. That is something that has happened at times this season. He was eager to get involved in things and will have been working hard to get into the game. In the second half, he came alive. Some will say he’s too cold and not enough hot but he’s a player. He got his eighth goal of the season and his tenth assist in this match, which was great to see. We just need this Bruno Fernandes a bit more this season. ★★★★★★★

Marcus Rashford: The England forward scored his 26th goal of the season, opening the scoring in the sixth minute of the match. It was a good finish for Rashford and he will be pleased to find the back of the net again. He seemed to fizzle off in the second half and was replaced by Jadon Sancho in the 66th minute, giving him a bit of a rest ahead of the clash to Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday. He will then be seeking to do it all again. ★★★★★★

Substitutes

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Replaced Dalot 46′. Played well with Antony on the right, starting up a bit of a partnership again with the Brazilian. His proactiveness helped United push further up the pitch. It was great to see him thrive. ★★★★★★★

Jadon Sancho: Replaced Rashford 66′. The English winger was lively on the ball. I would like to see him snap into place and start banging the goals and assists in for United, but that is down to him. Good signs though. ★★★★★★

Tyrell Malacia: Replaced Shaw 66′. Came on to give Shaw a rest. Dis well in the left-back position. Will want to get on the pitch more and more this season. He did what he needed to do. ★★★★★★

Scott McTominay: Replaced Fred 82′. Brought some more energy onto the pitch. Had a shot on goal, which was saved but Weghorst banged the rebound to make it 4-1 for United. A positive performance for the Academy graduate. ★★★★★★★

Facundo Pellistri: Replaced Antony 82′. He was shining as he entered the pitch and seconds later, was advancing with trickery and skill on the wing, held up the ball in the box and found McTominay before Weghorst made it 4-1. ★★★★★★★

Match Information

Goals: Marcus Rashford 6′, Antony 52′, Bruno Fernandes 58′, Wout Weghorst 82′; Ayoze Perez 32′

Assists: Bruno Fernandes 52′, Luke Shaw 58′; Juanmi 32′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot (Wan-Bissaka 46′), Varane, Martinez, Shaw (Malacia 66′); Casemiro, Fred (McTominay 82′); Antony (Pellistri 82′), Weghorst, Fernandes; Rashford (Sancho 66′)

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Butland; Lindelof, Maguire; Mainoo; Elanga, Garnacho

Bookings: Wout Weghorst 56′, Bruno Fernandes 68′

Written by John Walker

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Manchester United

Ratings: De Gea, Martinez & Sabitzer were great against Fulham; Fernandes’ brace was a positive too

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Manchester United beat Fulham 3-1 at Old Trafford in the Emirate FA Cup quarter final. It was Fulham who were the better team for large spells as Aleksandar Mitrović opening the scoring in the 50th minute of the match. A Willian handball gave a penalty for United which Bruno Fernandes scored – Willian, Mitrović and Marco Silva were sent off. Marcel Saboteur then scored his first goal for United before Fernandes scored a second.

Fulham started well at Old Trafford with Aleksandar Mitrović showing great strength down the right in the second minute, whipping in a good ball that Scott McTominay had to be alert to knock behind. Harry Maguire then headed clear the resulting set-piece. David De Gea made a save in the third minute as Issa Diop was found 15-yards out on an angle, looping a good header towards De Gea, who had the help the ball over the crossbar. Fulham were lively.

In the fourth minute of the match Mitrović had a penalty appeal waved away after he thought he was fouled by Luke Shaw in the box. United seemed to be sloppy from the start with Maguire adding to it with bad passing from the back. Andreas Pereira then drove forward in the eighth minute, found Mitrović who then set up Willian on the edge of the box, who should have found more but hit his effort far and wide of the target. United needed to be so much better.

In the tenth minute, Bruno Fernandes was down needing treatment after seemingly being elbowed just above his waist. He was fine to continue though. Marcus Rashford launched an attack in the 13th minute, finding Wout Weghorst on the edge of the box for the Dutchman’s finish was not good enough and was straight at Bernd Leno. Mitrović seemed to be lively in the early stages of the match, seeking a goal against United in the Emirates FA Cup.

Fulham had a good chance in the 14th minute with Harrison Reed nicking the ball off Lisandro Martinez then charging into the box. He had three in the box but his final ball was not good enough and the ball was cleared out for a corner. The corner found its way to Tim Ream on the left flank and he delivered a good ball across the face of the goal but there were no takers for Fulham. Andreas Pereira was booked in the 18th minute for a foul on Rashford.

Maguire was booked three minutes later, which would be a suspension for the semi final of the competition, should United get there where the winner of this match will face Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley. United were close in the 24th minute as Rashford cut onto his right foot, curled the ball into where Weghorst and Marcel Sabitzer were but neither of them could reach it in the end. Fulham wanted another penalty in the 26th minute after Mitrović went down.

It was not given though as there was nothing in it – other than a dive for Mitrović. Fulham had a chance in the 31st minute but Mitrović was unable to find the back of the net. United had a chance at the other end a minute later with Rashford the source of imagination for United but on his final ball, Leno was able to get to block it which ricocheted of Rashford and out for a goal kick. United then started to find some flow but needed a lot more than they had brought to far.

Martinez defended well in the 40th minute as Mitrović was sent up the channel, having an eye for the box. He tried to beat the Argentinian defender with a change of pace but Martinez stayed strong and came away with the ball. Sabitzer had a chance on goal in the 41st minute, taking on a strike from 22-yards but Leno parried it away. Jadon Sancho started something a minute later, with Sabitzer also involved but Rashford did not get to it. It was 0-0 at half time.

There were no substitutions for either team during the break. Fulham started on top again in the second half with João Palhinha and Reed keeping the chance alive, Willian then back heeled the ball to Antonee Robinson who shot at goal but De Gea tipped it over the crossbar. De Gea made another save a minute later was Willian struck from the edge of the box. Fulham opened the scoring in the 50th minute through Mitrović, who buried the ball provided by Issa Diop.

In the 54th minute, United went direct to Weghorst who held it for Rashford, then finding Fernandes. The Portuguese midfielder took his strike from the edge of the box but it was wide of the target. Ten Hag made a substitution in the 59th minute with Antony replacing McTominay. Willian started rolling back the years in the 64th minute, showing his class and ability. He was unable to inspire Fulham to double their lead though. United still needed to get something back.

De Gea performed another great save in the 66th after Mitrović rose highest to head towards goal. Fernandes had some involvement in something in the 68th minute, sending it in to Sancho, who struck it and it deflected off Rashford. In the 70th minute, Willian seemed to handle the ball, being honest about it. VAR got involved and the referee looked at the screen. He sent Willian off and gave United a penalty – it was a harsh sending off for the Brazilian.

Mitrović got nasty, pushed the referee and pushed his face into his face and was sent off for that. Marco Silva was also sent off for his reaction from the double red card, which turned into a treble. Fernandes took the penalty, scoring his ninth goal of the season for United. Two minutes later, Sabitzer scored his first goal for United after Shaw played the ball into him as he was running in the box. VAR looked at the goal and awarded it. United were 1-0 down to 2-1 up.

That was a dramatic ten minutes. Willian was perhaps treated badly for that sending off but what Mitrović did was out of order and he deserves that. Silva also deserved to be sent off for his reaction to what happened. Some will say United got their way with the referees again but it was purely on Fulham what happened. United just gained from it. That is what happens in football. The Fernandes penalty followed by the Saboteur goal was brilliant for United.

United seemed to cool the game down after that, trying to keep possession – dominating the game, which was a first to be fair. It was a terrible game for United before the penalty. Antony came close in the 88th minute – it tested Leno and Diop but he was not able to score. Fred replaced Rashford in the 83rd minute of the match, giving United more in the midfield with them 2-1 up at this stage of the match. United just needed to keep the ball and keep Fulham a bay.

In the 89th minute, Luis Boa Norte – Fulham’s assistant manager, made a triple substitution with Cédric Spares, Manot Solomon and Daniel James replacing Kenny Tete, Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Harrison Reed. In the 90th minute, Tom Cairney replaced Andreas Pereira. Seven minutes were added at the end of the second half. United found a third goal, through Fernandes – his tenth of the season, assisted by Fred in the sixth minute of added time.

It was United that would face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Emirates FA Cup semi final at Wembley in April with Manchester City facing Sheffield United in the other semi final. United’s match will probably be on Sunday 23 April as they are playing in the UEFA Europa League the Thursday prior to the match. Ten Hag was happy, United were happy and the supporters were happy. Another trip to Wembley for United – another chance for another trophy this season.

Player Ratings

David De Gea: Made some great saves to deny Fulham – one of which kept them in the game. Conceded to Mitrović but later in the second half, that threat was gone. It was a comfortable match for De Gea. ★★★★★★★★

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Did not seem to be at his best until Antony was on the pitch. His final third play before that was dire. Their ability with each other is good to see. One of the better aspects of his game. ★★★★★★

Harry Maguire: Not the best performances – one of the worst. Hauled down Mitrović and was booked for it – therefore misses the semi final. Kept his place as Raphael Varane was ill and regressed massively. ★★★★★

Lisandro Martinez: The Argentinian really imposed himself against Fulham, although Harrison Reed did cause him to misjudge him. That said, he was great at the back for United and health with Aleksandar Mitrović well. ★★★★★★★★

Luke Shaw: Did not really get going to help United on the attack much. Did get his seventh assist of the season though playing the ball into Marcel Sabitzer for him to score his first United goal, overlapping Jadon Sancho. ★★★★★★★

Scott McTominay: He was disciplined positionally when he did not have the ball – not that he was bad with it. He got a chance on goal just before the break. Replaced by Antony in the 58th minute of the match – before the madness. ★★★★★

Marcel Sabitzer: Scored his first goal for United. Took time to adjust with Scott McTominay. Had a good shot in the first half and played in a cross. His goal was a brilliant finish – first Austrian to score for United. ★★★★★★★★

Jadon Sancho: Seemed off the pace in the first half. Seemed slow on and off the ball at times. Did not get much dynamism in the match but did win the penalty for United with the ball touching Willian’s hand. ★★★★★★

Bruno Fernandes: Careless with the ball at times. He changed his performance when United won the penalty levelling from the spot. He got his second of the game in added time, giving him ten goals and 10 assists this season. ★★★★★★★

Marcus Rashford: He was the one player that created something in the first half. He was quiet in the second half and did not get many chances. He was replaced by Fred in the 83rd minute with United 2-1 up. ★★★★★★

Wout Weghorst: It was not a great day for the Dutchman against Fulham. He was unable to get many chances towards goal, with his first shot not actually a shot, more of a back pass. He was put in the number ten role. ★★★★★

Substitutes

Antony: Replaced McTominay 58′. He helped United on the attack with led to the penalty. He was lively since his introduction. It was good that he recovered from illness ahead of this match. Superb player on his day. ★★★★★★★

Fred: Replaced Rashford 83′. Came on giving more energy with United in the lead. He got his fourth assist of the season for Fernandes’ second goal of the match. He was an important substitute for United. ★★★★★★

Match Information

Goals: Bruno Fernandes 75′ penalty’, 90+6′, Marcel Sabitzer 77′; Aleksandar Mitrović 50′

Assists: Luke Shaw 77′, Fred 90+6′; Issa Diop 50′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw; McTominay (Antony 58′), Sabitzer; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford (Fred 83′); Weghorst

Substitutes Not Used: Butland; Lindelof, Malacia, Dalot; Mainoo; Pellistri, Elanga

Bookings: Harry Maguire 21′; Andreas Pereira 18′, Willian s/o 72′, Aleksandar Mitrović 72′

Written by John Walker

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Manchester United

Confirmed XI: Maguire & Martinez in defence; Sabitzer, Sancho, Fernandes & Rashford supporting Weghorst in attack against Fulham

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Manchester United face Fulham in the Emirates FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford this afternoon. Erik ten Hag’s side will play their second quarter final of the season days after reaching their third quarter final in the UEFA Europa League, where they will face Sevilla over two legs next month. This match against Fulham is the final match for United prior to the international break, then the season will continue with United playing nine matches in April – another busy month.

Should United beat Fulham and earn a semi final place in the FA Cup this season, the match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League would be postponed as that is the weekend the semi finals will be played at Wembley, so United would need to find the time to reschedule that match, plus the one against Brighton and Hove Albion that should have been played this weekend. Should United go all the way in both competitions, they will have a busy period ahead.

United and Fulham have already met at Craven Cottage in the Premier League this season, just prior to the FIFA World Cup where United won 2-1 with Alejandro Garnacho scoring the winner in in the last minute of added time. United will face Fulham again at Old Trafford on the final day of the Premier League season. The draw for the semi final of the FA Cup should be done prior to this match commencing, providing extra time is not needed between Brighton and Grimsby Town.

Manchester United

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw;

McTominay, Sabitzer;

Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;

Weghorst

Substitutes

Butland; Lindelof, Malacia, Dalot; Fred, Mainoo; Antony, Pellistri, Elanga

Fulham

Leno;

Tete, Diop, Ream, Robinson;

Reed, Palhinha;

De Cordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian;

Mitrovic

Substitutes

Rodak; Adarabioyo, Soares; Cairney, James, Lukic; Wilson, Solomon, Vinicius

United and Fulham have met 87 times in all competitions in the history of both clubs. United have won 53 times, drawn 20 times and lost 14 times. Earlier this season United beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage, just prior to the FIFA World Cup with Christian Eriksen and Alejandro Garnacho scoring either side of Dan James’ equaliser. This will be the second meeting of the two teams this season – United face Fulham at Old Trafford in the final Premier League match this season.

United and Fulham have met 14 times in the FA Cup – United have won eight times, drawn four times and lost twice. The last defeat to Fulham in the FA Cup came back in 1908. United have scored 27 goals, conceded 15 and kept four clean sheets. The last time the two teams met in the FA Cup was back in 2013 – a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford with Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and a brave from Javier Hernandez before Aaron Hughes scored a late consolation goal.

Andreas Pereira, Dimitar Berbatov, Andy Cole, Louis Saha, Edwin van de Sar, Paul Parker, Kieran Richardson, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Chris Smalling, Tim Fosu-Mensah, George Best and Charlie Mitten have all played for both Manchester United and Fulham. Best is probably the most well-known along with van de Sar, Parker, Cole, Berbatov, Mitten Saha and Smalling. Pereira is doing well at Fulham after being sold by United. He has three goals and six assists in 31 appearances so far.

Written by John Walker

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Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Pellistri, Weghorst & Rashford lead attack? Fernandes, McTominay & Sabitzer secure midfield? Varane & Martinez in defence?

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Manchester United face Fulham in the Emirates FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Erik ten Hag’s side will play their second quarter final of the season days after reaching their third quarter final in the UEFA Europa League, where they will face Sevilla over two legs next month. This match against Fulham is the final match for United prior to the international break, then the season will continue with United playing nine matches in April – another busy month.

Should United beat Fulham and earn a semi final place in the FA Cup this season, the match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League would be postponed as that is the weekend the semi finals will be played at Wembley, so United would need to find the time to reschedule that match, plus the one against Brighton and Hove Albion that should have been played this weekend. Should United go all the way in both competitions, they will have a busy period ahead.

United and Fulham have already met at Craven Cottage in the Premier League this season, just prior to the FIFA World Cup where United won 2-1 with Alejandro Garnacho scoring the winner in in the last minute of added time. United will face Fulham again at Old Trafford on the final day of the Premier League season. The draw for the semi final of the FA Cup should be done prior to this match commencing, providing extra time is not needed between Brighton and Grimsby Town.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-3-3

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;

Fernandes, McTominay, Sabitzer;

Pellistri, Weghorst, Rashford

Goalkeeper: De Gea

David De Gea has been a positive for United for the majority of the season. He will want to help guide United to more trophies this season after already helping the club lift the Carabao Cup this season. United have earned a UEFA Europa League quarter final next month and will be seeking to reach the semi final of the Emirates FA Cup by beating Fulham. I cannot see Jack Butland or Tom Heaton playing in goal this weekend if De Gea is fit to do so.

Granted, De Gea will need to keep fresh but having not been selected to represent Spain during the international break, he will get a fortnight off to rest and recover ahead of the next busy period for United which will see them play nine matches in April and beating Fulham will postpone another Premier League match which will need to be placed into the calendar just like the clash with Brighton and Hove Albion that should have been played this weekend.

United will probably need to rotate in the coming month or so but not now. Solidifying their place in the Premier League will need to be done as a minimum this season with the priority being to lift the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, seeking a cup treble in Erik ten Hag’s first season, which would really upset the ABUs. However, lifting either of them would be a positive alongside the Carabao Cup and show that United are on their way to coming back.

Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw

United’s defence has done well this season but there is a bigger test ahead of them which will result in the likes of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire getting more minutes during the remainder of the season. That said, it is Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez who are the preferred central defensive partnership at United this season with the Frenchman and the Argentinian complimenting themselves. Another strong purchase in the summer could solve the defence.

I think Varane, who was rested for the Real Betis victory will start against Fulham with Martinez parenting him once again. The Argentinian came off in the last 15 minutes on Thursday, giving him a bit more time to recover for Sunday’s match. He will be happy with the number of fixtures he has been playing this season though, as will Varane. They hold the keys for United getting into the semi finals of the Emirates FA Cup this season and I think United will do that.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka should start as the right-back against Fulham as for much of the season he has been a positive impact. That said, against Betis, he was not his usual self, which could have been caused by fatigue. Diogo Dalot is a positive player but since his latest return from injury, he’s not been the same player. Luke Shaw, who was rested against Betis to start against Fulham. He has had a great season and will be seeking to make it even better. This defence is United’s best.

Midfield: Fernandes, McTominay, Sabitzer

United’s midfield will face a blow for the next four domestic fixtures with Casemiro suspended after his red card against Southampton last weekend. It will be something that United will have to deal with though. Against Fulham, United could revert to a midfield three in a 4-3-3 formation as Bruno Fernandes has been playing as a central midfielder more recently which could be to counteract the absence of Casemiro. United still have a few options so it is up to Ten Hag.

Fernandes should keep his place as he’s not going to get much rest having been selected for Portugal during the international break with compatriot Diogo Dalot. Fernandes has been off the boil in the last few matches, which could be down to United’s busy fixture schedule and the fact he’s played in all but two matches thus far. Scott McTominay could also start, playing as the defensive minded midfielder – a role in which he has played many times before.

Marcel Sabitzer made his return after missing two matches due to a knock against Real Betis on Thursday evening, coming off the bench. He could start in this match to aid Fernandes in the attacking midfield role as he has an eye for a goal and enjoys playing further forward. United could change their formation at times during the match too. Fred is also an option but he’s largely been an impact substitute this season and could prove something extra against Fulham.

Forwards: Pellistri, Weghorst, Rashford

Facundo Pellistri should start for United against Fulham after playing well against Real Betis. Antony is likely to miss out this match and with Jadon Sancho in poor form, playing the young Uruguayan would be a much better option as he has done well when called upon this season. He made his first start for the club on Thursday evening and seemed to be lively on the attack, doing well on the right flank. United could rotate him for the remainder of the season, which would work.

Wout Weghorst will continue to play as the striker in this team whilst Anthony Martial is still recovering from his current injury before the next one comes. Despite the criticism and the lack of goals scored, he has been a largely positive player for United since making his loan move from Fulham, well Besiktas where he had been loaned to last summer. He has two goals to his name so far and three assists, so is on the right track – he will be seeking to score again though.

Marcus Rashford is the player to beat this season after he scored his 27th goal of the season on Thursday evening. Granted, he was off the pace for much of the match but in the 55th minute, se stepped up and scored a brilliant goal for United to settle the tie giving United a four-goal cushion in their eventual 5-1 aggregate victory. Rashford will be tired but also determined to succeed for United this season in what has been his best season yet for the Old Trafford club.

Substitutes: Heaton; Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia, Dalot; Fred, Mainoo; Sancho, Elanga

Ten Hag will be able to name nine players on the bench against Fulham, three short of what he could have named in the UEFA Europa League – although he only had ten players on the bench because of illness and injury. I would expect Tom Heaton to remain on the bench as the reserve goalkeeper against Fulham with De Gea expected to start once again for United. I cannot see another goalkeeper coming in at this stage of the season, unless there is an injury.

In the defence, United have the best depth going into this match. Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia and Diogo Dalot should all be available for United. The defence is not the worst that it has been for United post-Sir Alex Ferguson but there is room for improvement. In the midfield, Fred and Kobbie Mainoo could be called on to make an impact if needed which would be good for the pair of them if it happens. United are literally at bare bones in this area now.

In the attack, United could have just Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga on the bench with the likelihood that Antony and Anthony Martial both miss this match, which really cuts down the attacking options for Ten Hag. That said, the players that start the match should be good enough to find the victory for United and Sancho could get a chance to show his ability once again and Elanga could finally start to show some promise, which would be good to see.

Written by John Walker

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