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Nic Ladds 13th Mar 2010 - 17:47

Hodge your bets

One defeat in their last eleven matches in all competitions has put Manchester United well on course for a historic treble. Roy Hodgson has clearly transformed Fulham in to a club to be reckoned with and the days of relegation scraps seem a distant memory.

It is hard to seriously talk about anything other than a home win here though; the stats are really stacked against the Cottagers. United have lost just one home league match all season and Fulham have just one away victory.

Man Utd are historically strong at home to Fulham, winning each of the last five times they have met with Fulham winning just once in the last 47 attempts in Manchester.

The Red Devils have turned Old Trafford in to a fortress in the league recently, they have conceded just one goal in their last nine matches and have gone over ten hours of football without leaking a goal.

Manchester United (2/9) are obviously clear favourites here, and they have to win to move back to the top of the table after Chelsea picked up three points on Saturday. After already winning the League Cup and trouncing AC Milan in the Champions League, this could really be a successful season for Sir Alex's men.

Fulham (14/1) are undoubtedly a lot better team than they were but Roy Hodgson will need a lot of investment if he is to progress the club to the next level. Fulham sit tenth in the table and look set to drop out of Europe. With teams such as Everton, Birmingham and Aston Villa battling them for a top half finish, it is hard to see them stepping up any time soon.

Lest we forget, should Fulham achieve the seemingly impossible and win at Old Trafford, they will complete their first ever league double over United following their remarkable 3-0 home win over them in December.

Forget that though, this match is in Manchester at a ground where the home side have smashed in 23 goals in their last six home matches - red hot striker Wayne Rooney notching ten of those on his own.

So United have no troubles at either end, scoring plenty and conceding few - as much as I'd love to write about an upset - I really can't see one here. To get a bit better value on United, I will be betting on the handicap markets; you can get 13/20 on them -1 or 9/5 on them -2 goals.

When these two play, there are usually goals too with 57 in the last 17 meetings involving them both, that's an average of over 3 goals a game. Over three goals in this match is 8/5 or if you want to play it a bit safer you can get 6/10 on over two goals.

Michael Carrick is a welcome return for Sir Alex and should step in for the beleaguered Paul Scholes who has played twice in five days.  Definitely missing out are Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Wes Brown, Ryan Giggs, John O'Shea as well as Michael Owen who is out for the season.

Fulham don't have too many problems with injuries, only midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi is doubtful with Andy Johnson and John Pantsil both long term absentees.

Always tricky talking about United without talking about Wayne Rooney to score first, everyone seems to have used all the superlatives I can think of already so let's just say he's the best striker in the world at the moment and is 11/4 to score first or 7/2 to get two or more.

Bobby Zamora is Fulham's main man; his impressive form has even seen calls for him to get an England call-up. That may be a bit much in my opinion but he is certainly in the form of his life and is 4/1 to score one at any time.

Danny Murphy loves playing against United, he's scored five goals against them in the past and he has gone on to win in every match, you can get 6/1 on him scoring at any time or 20/1 on Danny Murphy to score at anytime and Fulham to win.

If I was pushed I would say Man Utd will win to nil (8/13) and I think the 3-0 scoreline looks decent at 11/2.


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