Fulham 3-0 Manchester United

December 20, 2009

In March of this year, Fulham put in an excellent display against a 10-man Utd to earn a hard-fought victory that helped propel us into 7th in the league. Who would have thought a famous victory could be replicated a mere 9 months later? Before the match pundits were predicting a Man Utd win or at the most a draw, usually backing up their comments with lazy nods towards the results of previous seasons. For me, United were in line for a beating like this. How they escaped with a win against Wolfsburg astounded me but they have been fairly average this season and with the injury list at such a length things were going to get worse before they started to get better.

However, Fulham played out of their skins and completely dominated Utd all over the pitch. Even with their defensive frailties, Utd still had a very potent attack but this was neutralised by an excellent Baird and the usual suspects in the back 5.  Utd were limited to speculative long-range efforts, embarrassing considering the riches they have going forward.  Fulham were unstoppable going forward with Zoltan Gera playing ‘in the hole’ behind the rejuvenated Bobby Zamora, and Duff and Dempsey making dangerous runs forward.

The first goal came just after Kuszczak pulled off an outstanding save to deny Gera after Zamora nonchalantly chested the ball to Gera who looked to apply the finish with an accurate side foot. I have to admit, with Kuszczak apparently on form I was fearing another Vito Mannone performance against us. Luckily this wasn’t to be. Murphy robbed a poor Paul Scholes in midfield, took a few strides, set himself and then blasted home from 2o yards out. As Rich over at CCN has pointed out, this was due to a clever piece of deception by Murphy. This sent Fulham fans into a state o Euphoria and the match ebbed and flowed until half time with Fulham very much in the ascendency.

As the second half kicked off I was wondering whether our lack of ruthlessness in not putting away Utd in the first half would come back bite us a la Burnley.  My fears were allayed as duff swung an excellent right footed (!!) cross deep for Dempsey to head back across goal and Zamora to apply the finish. Utd were left in shambles and the win was sealed. Alex Ferguson changed things around, bringing on Wellbeck and Berbatov. This made for a brief Utd resurgence before Damien Duff killed the match. A free kick from the half way line was swung into the box, Zamora again chested it down expertly for Duff to power home on the volley.  Three quality goals to top off an excellent performance.

Overall an excellent team performance. Stand-out players were Zamora (again), Duff, Dempsey (who defended as well as he attacked), Murphy and Gera. I think we have finally found the position Gera revels in and I whilst I do not believe he should oust a fit Andy Johnson from the team, I think we may have found a new formation to make us more potent on the road. What really stands out for me from this game is that Utd did not score. I thought that Owen was awful and should not be going to South Africa and Rooney cut a frustrated figure, running all over the pitch and collecting the ball from left back and central defence. Credit to Hodgson’s defensive solidity that was derided by some as too negative for much of last year.

Fulham now go into next weeks clash full of confidence and with a full week of rest and uninterrupted training behind them. Tottenham did not play particularly well against Blackburn this weekend so Fulham should be confident of getting a result. The match will be tough but Fulham are at home and players are returning from injury, so there is every reason to be optimistic.

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