United can roll over Fulham
Ian Ogg previews the two Barclays Premier League fixtures on Super Sunday and expects some respite for David Moyes.
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Spurs take on Everton in the lunchtime kick-off in what promises to be an enthralling, not to mention, crucial encounter in the battle for fourth place while Fulham face a daunting bid to Manchester United as they look to attempt to arrest their slide and climb out of the relegation places.
Tottenham v Everton (1330)
This could be a real gem of a game with both sides playing attractive football but it's a big match for both teams and there's always a chance that nerves could get in the way. Just one point separates these two teams who are just behind Liverpool in the race for fourth and neither will want to lose any ground on one of their principal rivals. Spurs have taken just one point from six and it will be a blow to the credibility of their new coaching team if that becomes one from nine and nought from six at home. Everton recovered from their hammering in the Merseyside derby to take three points from Aston Villa but top-scorer Lukaku will be a big miss for them in this fixture and it remains to be seen how their makeshift strike force copes in his absence. Full back Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas are the joint-second top scorers with five and much has been made of Everton's attacking full-backs this season which makes it something of a surprise, not to say mildly amusing, that Leighton Baines (0) has fewer Premier League assists than team-mate Tim Howard (1) this season (Opta stat). Whether we can profit from that is debatable but his team's record on the road has been solid (4-6-2) whereas Spurs have been less effective at the Lane (5-3-4) than they would have hoped. In light of that - not to mention Everton's good record against Spurs - I'm struggling to get excited about the odds against on the home win although both the draw and Everton, draw no bet do make some appeal. They drew 0-0 at Goodison Park earlier in the campaign and last season's game in London finished two apiece while the league table also suggests that these are two closely matched sides but I'm just not convinced there's sufficient juice in the prices to get involved. Coleman is still available at fancy prices in the first goalscorer markets and there could be worse plays if you fancy shouting 'shoot' at the TV over the Sunday roast every time he ventures into the Spurs half. Ross Barkley is another player worthy of consideration in that market but it's not a game that I have a strong opinion about and it's not a game where any of the prices appear to be out of line to my eye and, as such, this could be one to sit back and enjoy before getting stuck into the second game on Super Sunday.
Verdict: Tottenham 1 Everton 1 (IO)
Everton have lost only two of their last 13 Barclays Premier League encounters with Tottenham.
The Toffees have conceded the most penalties in the Premier League this season (6).
Tottenham have won four penalties this season in the Premier League, only Liverpool (5) have been awarded more.
Manchester United v Fulham (1600)
It's difficult to imagine any scenario in which Rene Meulensteen and Ray Wilkins will enjoy a happy return to their old stamping ground. United's season may not be progressing as their fans or David Moyes would have wanted but at least they're not in Fulham's shoes. Rooted to the bottom of the table and knocked out of the FA Cup following an abject display in the week; it's a fair bet that Hugo Rodallega was not the only person with his head in his hands at Craven Cottage this week and the mood is unlikely to improve this weekend. Fulham have an abysmal record at Old Trafford as the Opta stats below demonstrate and there's been nothing in their recent performances to suggest that they can turn it around. One stat that didn't make the cut is that Fulham have scored seven goals from corners this season (only Man City have scored more) and United's defence is suspect enough to give them hope of finding the net from a set-piece but the hosts should have far too much firepower. Clean sheets have been something of a rarity for United this season with just seven in the Premier League but two of those have come in their last two home fixtures against Swansea and Cardiff, with both games finishing 2-0, and that's sufficiently tempting to take the 10/11 about a United win to nil with Fulham having failed to find the net in eight of their 12 road games. United haven't blown anyone away in the League this season but with Robin van Persie (six goals and two assists in his last seven league appearances) back in the side and Juan Mata bedding in there's a chance that they could do so against a Fulham side that shipped six at Hull, four against Leicester, Liverpool and Everton as well as three against West Ham. The correct score markets are, therefore, of interest with 4-0 (10/1) and 5-0 (20/1) but a small interest on a Wayne Rooney hat-trick is preferred. He has a terrific record against Sunday's visitors and lies fifth in the list of Premier League hat-trick scorers with six, one more than strike partner Van Persie. He can be expected to play further forward now that Mata is in the side and the bookmakers don't appear to have taken that into account with Rooney a top price 18/1 while Van Persie is as short as 9/2. Take a chance on the England hit-man striking form with a vengeance.
Verdict: Manchester United 5 Fulham 0 (IO)
Manchester United have won each of their last nine Barclays Premier League home games against Fulham and 11 of 12 since the Whites reached the division in 2001.
United have kept five clean sheets in their last six home league games against Fulham.
Wayne Rooney has scored in five of Man Utd's last six games against Fulham (all comps).