Manchester United-Fulham Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
STATS Senior Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Manchester United will look to make quick work of Fulham for the second successive Saturday in this late Premier League kick-off at Craven Cottage.
The league leaders eliminated the Cottagers from the FA Cup last weekend 4-1 as Javier Hernandez scored twice and Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs added goals. Aaron Hughes' 76th-minute tally was a consolation for Fulham.
The match marked Dimitar Berbatov's first against Manchester United since leaving the club. Berbatov may not feature this weekend since he exited Wednesday's 3-1 victory over West Ham United with a hamstring problem.
"Dimitar had a problem with his hamstring and hopefully won't be out for long," boss Martin Jol told Fulham's official website. "It's not a tear, it's a minor injury. We'll have him scanned and see what happens but he might miss the Manchester United game."
United took a seven-point lead atop the table despite being outplayed for much of the second half of Wednesday's 2-1 home victory over Southampton. Rooney's first-half brace was the difference on a night manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his side were fortunate.
"My experience of this club, when you are going for championships, is that there are always games where you can say we were a bit lucky," Ferguson said. "That was one of those nights."
The conditions of the Old Trafford pitch also played a role as United were outshot 20-12.
"We can't use the pitch as an excuse, but it didn't help us," Ferguson said. "It's a worry."
Ferguson made four changes to the side he used in last week's Fulham match, inserting Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones.
Van Persie failed to record a personal best by scoring in a sixth straight Premier League match. He continues to lead the top flight with 18 goals, including one on his Old Trafford league debut for United in a 3-2 victory over Fulham on Aug. 25.
The Red Devils have won four straight in the league over the Cottagers, who are 2-1-1 in the last four league matchups at home.
"We have to now focus for the next game against Fulham," defender Nemanja Vidic told Manchester United's official website. "Away games are always hard so we need to think about that. It's a good position we're in."
Fulham are in 12th place on 28 points after Berbatov and Hugo Rodallega were on target in Wednesday's London derby.
Jol said that midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, on loan from Arsenal, could make his club debut this weekend.
Dutch international Urby Emanuelson has completed a loan deal to Fulham for the rest of the season from AC Milan. Jol previously managed Emanuelson at Ajax.
"He's a skillful player, he's very mobile, quick," Jol said. "He can (play) left midfield, wide or number 10. We need fresh legs and it will be until the end of the season. We want to strengthen the squad."
The manager said that defender Philippe Senderos, seen limping for the final 10 minutes of the West Ham match, is available.
Updated January 31, 2013