If reports are to be believed Rooney is out with a stomach bug, and is left out of the trip to Craven Cottage. But going by recent trends, he might as well make it to the starting XI bust a gut, perform somersaults and end it with a split. Not that it would make pretty viewing, but since the official site says nothing about him being left out (so far) make of that what you will.
But despite that, it’s a bit odd that I am not worried. I would like Rooney to get more matches to regain his form of last season, but the promise Hernandez has shown means that it gives us more opportunity to see the Mexican international in action.
This can only be good. We don’t have to rely heavily on Rooney’s fitness if Hernandez, Berbatov and Owen (Macheda to a lesser extent) step up to shoulder the burden.
In midfield, we have the familiar problem we’ve had for a while now. Scholes cannot be expected to replicate his brilliant form. (If he does it will be a miracle of nature.) Carrick needs to step in, and, along with him, Anderson. Question marks are over Anderson—we really don’t know what shape he’s in. Fletcher can be relied upon. But Carrick has to shed his indifferent form from last year. But all this is familiar territory.
As for the first XI, I highly doubt Fergie will change from last week, even if he hasn’t really fielded the same XI in consecutive matches for a long time. Park could be selected to play in the wing because Fulham can be a tricky place to be. And if Park is selected it will most likely be a 4-3-3 formation with Nani on the other wing.
But if he were to stick with a 4-4-2—which is what I think he’ll go with—he’ll stick with the same XI (except Rooney, if reports are to be believed.) I would hope Rafael is played at right back from the start.
Prediction: 2-0 to the reds.