Sunday 10th February 2013 kick-off 16.00pm (GMT)
By Sean McGuire
Manchester United’s win against Fulham replicated one of those one nil-wins that Sir Alex Ferguson raves about so much. This should not be misconstrued as being his preferred score-line, because grinding out one-nil wins is not in the genetic make-up of Manchester United; and it is the anti-dote to the club’s philosophy.
However it is more the ‘type’ of one-nil score-lines that gives him the most satisfaction. The games where United win by the odd goal because they fail to convert their chances does not fall into this category, yet it is those games which are evenly balanced and need a touch of magic to win that separates champions from the also-rans.
During the course of every championship winning season, United tend to win five or six games where most teams would have lost; and there is always that benchmark one-nil game, which can only truly show its importance on reflection at the end of the season.
Who can forget the one-nil victory over Newcastle in March 1996 when Peter Schmeichel had the game of his life to thwart the rampant league leaders in a game that would have settled the championship for the Magpies. Just when things were looking grim for the Reds, Eric Cantona volleyed home a second half winner which not only beat the Geordies one-nil, but it also kick-started their capitulation in the league as their twelve point lead began to evaporate before their eyes.
In the treble season of 1999 United went to bottom club Charlton Athletic in January expecting a routine win. The game did not go according to plan as the Premier League strugglers fought for their lives and could have even nicked the game themselves. However, a Dwight Yorke header from a Paul Scholes cross in injury time saw United snatch a one-nil win when all hope seemed lost. This was remarkably the Reds first 1-0 score-line of the season, and on reflection made all the difference as they eventually won the league by one point.
We have seen John O’Shea plunder the ball into the net in front of the Kop at Anfield in March 2007. United, who were down to ten men, were holding on for a draw before a late Ronaldo free-kick broke lose to the Irishman who’s solitary goal won the game for United; and sparked celebrations which saw the United team throwing their shirts into the crowd.
Ryan Giggs produced a piece of magic to nick the game 1-0 against West Ham in 2009, which kept a nine-point advantage between United and Liverpool. In 2011 Dimitar Berbatov eked out a late one-nil win at Old Trafford when United were down to ten men against Bolton Wanderers during the title run-in.
You see these one-nil games are a few of many that United have mustered-up over the years. It is their plan B, their fail-safe, If they cannot win by playing exciting attacking football, then they just win, it is as simple as that; and on reflection Wayne Rooney’s winner against Fulham last week could prove to be one of those vital matches that help us win the title back from our noisy neighbours whilst claiming our 20th league title.
Manchester United have a clean bill of health after the midweek international fixtures however they are expected to make a few changes from their last match with three massive fixtures on the horizon in the next seven days.
David De Gea should start in goal and in front of him Johnny Evans is Likely to partner Nemanja Vidic. Evra and Rafael are set to play in the fullback positions; Smalling, Jones and Ferdinand are also available.
Michael Carrick is set to start in midfield with Anderson set to start alongside him with Cleverley likely to be rested after playing for England in midweek. Giggs and Scholes and Kagawa could also feature. Young may return to the left wing with Nani or Valencia on the right. Fletcher is out for the season.
Wayne Rooney and van Persie should get the nod upfront although Hernandez and Welbeck may get a start with the Real Madrid match in mind.
Manchester United have recovered more points from losing positions than any other team in the Premier League this season (27).
United have scored the most headed goals in the top flight this season (13) while Everton have conceded the most (12).
Everton have had 30% of their goals conceded in the opening 15 minutes.
Wayne Rooney has scored eight goals in his last seven Premier League appearances and has scored or assisted 17 goals in 17 Premier League games overall this season.
United have earned more points this season than they have ever done in Premier League history after 25 games (62).
The Reds have won 15 and lost none of the last 19 Premier League games against Everton at Old Trafford.
United have scored with 21% of their shots this season, the best conversion rate in the league.
Everton have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League games (W5 D7 L1), while United are on a run of 13 games unbeaten (W11 D2 L0).
Manchester United: (from) De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Evra, Jones, Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand Vidic, Buttner, Carrick, Cleverley, Scholes, Giggs, Anderson, Kagawa, Young, Nani, Valencia, Welbeck, Hernandez.
Everton: (from) Howard, Jagielka, Distin, Heitinga, Baines, Oviedo, Naismith, Hitzlsperger, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic, Mucha, Neville, Anichebe, Vellios, Gibson, Mirallas, Duffy.
Referee: Mark Halsey
Ground: Old Trafford
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