We need to attack - Game preview - Man Utd (a)

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Nani of Manchester United is challenged by Mousa Dembele of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage on December 21, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

If form is anything to go by, Manchester United don't stand a chance of beating Fulham on Saturday afternoon. We're second in the table, unbeaten, with a plus five goal difference while lowly United sit in 16th, without a single point separating them from the likes of Wigan Athletic, Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers.

Form is, of course, nothing to go by at such a preliminary stage in the season but why shouldn't we enjoy it while it lasts, because the masses would have you believe it won't last particularly long at all?

They're probably right but there is a distinct buzz to Fulham under Martin Jol - one that seems to have overlooked the lack of transfer activity around Motspur Park and one that has ignored the disheartening saga that surrounds Clint Dempsey. That took another turn on Thursday with an official complaint towards Brendan Rodgers.

It's a buzz that relates almost directly to the positive brand of football which Jol is so keen to encourage and, if any evidence is required, was on show against Norwich as we cruised to a 5-0 victory last weekend. It was, by all accounts, not the most uphill of struggles but Mladen Petric shone, Alex Kacaniklic glowed and, perhaps this has gone without notice, Mahamadou Diarra looked firmly back to his very best.

Why does this matter, this style of play that is apparently so pleasing? Well, Jol believes it can be United's undoing. They're lacking a centre half while Antonio Valencia is filling in at right back and Fulham fans, of all people, know exactly what is possible when Sir Alex Ferguson finds himself short on defensive numbers.

"Hopefully we can play our own game," said Jol, keen on pressing United's weakened back line.

"We have to try and play our football and create chances and if you score one or two goals then you're always in with a chance of a result."

The last bit may well be quite the non-statement but at least he has shown ambition. We haven't taken three points from Old Trafford since 2003 and the only way we will change that is to push the home side and show what we can do.

Man Utd come into this game with a disappointing start to the season. They were defeated by a Marouane Fellaini-inspired Everton and, if they fail to beat us, could be in line for their worst start to a season since 2007. United's pre-season wasn't much better, being held to draws by Valerenga and Ajax Cape Town.

In contrast, Fulham's opener was emphatic while their pre-season was overly successful. The Whites, in that sense, hold the upper hand with impetus.

In the corresponding fixture last season, controversy reigned supreme as Danny Murphy was denied a penalty in the dying minutes of a 1-0 Fulham defeat. Jol's side played well, with style and pressed United up the pitch. It was a staunch improvement on the 5-0 defeat we suffered at home.

Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are all still out but Jonny Evans may be in contention to partner Nemanja Vidic at centre back.

Kerim Frei remains injured and Clint Dempsey will not be included for Fulham as his transfer story continues to unfurl. Phillippe Senderos is also out.

Potential line-up:

football formations

Score prediction: Man Utd 2 - 1 Fulham

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