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)
"You need a lot of belief in yourself to win there," said Martin Jol ahead of Monday evening's visit to Old Trafford. You can't help but feel that even that, though, is a little understated. More than belief comes into it, and many of the Red Devils' recent victims will testify to that.
Arsene Wenger could be one of those, falling at the hands of Manchester United as they did, 8-2, in August of 2011. It was less of a humiliation and more of an eye-opener, both to the overwhelming power of a rampant United and the defensive inefficiencies of Arsenal's latest generation. If there's one hope you have for Fulham, though, it's that there is an aura of stability in a defensive line up which, while not necessarily proving overly consistent this term, is proven in its pedigree. Brede Hangeland provides the core to it, and he is more-than-acquainted with defeating Manchester United. He's been on the winning side of both the 2-0 and 3-0 wins over Ferguson's side in 2008/09 and 2009/10 respectively.
It must of course be noted that both of these victories came at Craven Cottage, however, and the story makes for somewhat grimmer reading when you look at our record in Greater Manchester. In just under half a century, we've managed to avoid defeat merely once.
There's never a truly good time to face this United side and, as the title chase, fought so closely by both the Manchester clubs, reaches its climax, Ferguson will be more avid than ever that his side need to claim three points. Of late, they've been appeasing their manager; only their Europa League defeat to Athletic Bilbao blemishing their recent record.
Fulham haven't enjoyed such consistency and have followed up three straight Premier League wins with two defeats. Swansea visited the Cottage last week and hustled, with ease, three points from the whites. It was a display from the home side that put to bed the slightly heady idea that a top six finish is not beyond us. Top ten will do just fine.
When Manchester United travelled to South West London earlier in the season, they ran riot and carried home a 5-0 victory, while at Old Trafford last year, Mark Hughes' couldn't take any points from his favourite former stomping ground.
Nani and Michael Owen will be missing for United but Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones made appearances for the reserves during the week and are expected to be fit.
Orlando Sa, Steve Sidwell and Zdenek Grygera are the continued absences for Fulham.
Predicted line up: Schwarzer; Riise, Hangeland, Hughes, Baird; Dempsey, Murphy, Dembele, Duff; Pogrebnyak, Johnson
Score prediction: Man Utd 2 - 0 Fulham