Erik ten Hag says the impending World Cup cannot be a distraction and underlined the need for his players to do everything in their power to beat an energetic Fulham side.
“I think the players are all aware of the importance of the game against Fulham. I will not take the World Cup in regard,” United boss Ten Hag said. “We play the best team – until Sunday, it is the interest of Manchester United and only the interest of Manchester United.
“That is going to be a really tough game. I think in the Premier League everything is very close, and what I have seen from Fulham so far is really energetic.
“They also play really decent football out from the back – I remember the game against Liverpool at the start of the season – so you have to be really good there to get a result.
“We have to do everything in our power to get the right result – that is what we’re preparing now.”
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will be desperate to sign off for the World Cup on a high.
Last week’s loss to Aston Villa was quickly corrected by knocking the same opponent out of the Carabao Cup four days later, and fifth spot heading into Christmas is now secured despite a fluctuating start as United manager including back-to-back defeats in his opening two games in charge and a humiliating 6-3 loss to Manchester City.
There have also been hugely encouraging wins against Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, but anything less than three points at Craven Cottage today will leave an ill taste in the mouth for the next six weeks.
There are likely to be many out there today with a point to prove, but Fulham’s Andreas Pereira should be near the top of that list given his time at United.
The 26-year-old has settled well following a permanent summer move from United, having spent time on loan at Lazio and then last season with Flamengo, and scored from the penalty spot against Man City last weekend.
“I cannot talk about what happened before (at Manchester United), but we are pleased to have him here,” Fulham boss Marco Silva said ahead of the weekend.
“He is performing well, has adapted really well in our squad and also in our philosophy.
“What I expect from him is even more because I know he has the quality to do more things, to keep improving. We will see much more and better things coming from him.”
Aleksandar Mitrovic will be missing again today as he recovers from a foot problem, which it is hoped will not limit the striker’s impact for Serbia at the World Cup.
Bobby De Cordova-Reid returns for Fulham following a one-match ban, but defender Kenny Tete and midfielder Harrison Reed must serve their own suspensions after collecting five yellow cards.
Cristiano Ronaldo is today expected to miss the game after failing to join the squad that travelled down to London.
Ronaldo was absent from Thursday’s 4-2 Carabao Cup win over Aston Villa and Erik ten Hag said after that game that the Portuguese star was suffering from illness.
With uncertainty over his future and talk of a January move away from Old, it means Ronaldo could have played his last game for United. In his absence, and even if he was available in truth, Anthony Martial is expected to start.
United have Bruno Fernandes available again after a Premier League suspension, but Diogo Dalot has picked up five yellow cards so will sit this one out.
TV channel: In the UK, today’s game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, with coverage beginning at 4pm GMT ahead of a 4:30pm kick-off.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Evening Standard’s LIVE coverage of the Premier League clash between Fulham and Manchester United.
It’s the final top-flight game ahead of the World Cup break, with league action resuming on Boxing Day. So it better be a cracker.
Kick-off at Craven Cottage is at 4.30pm. Stick with us.