The big kick off. This Sunday

Last updated : 18 August 2006 By
from Old Trafford. Kick off 1.30pm.


MANCHESTER UNITED entertain Chris Coleman's Fulham at the outset of their fourth attempt to collect an unequalled ninth Premier League title.

The Red Devils have been champions of England on 15 occasions, and have never finished outside the top three in the Premier League. Since last lifting the trophy in 2002-03, they've finished third, third and second. They scored the same number of goals as champions Chelsea last season (72), but ended eight points behind Mourinho's men.

Five goals were scored when these two last met for a Premiership seasonal opener on 19 August 2001. The Cottagers lost their first ever Premier League fixture 3-2, when Louis Saha gave the Red Devils a scare with the first of his two in the fourth minute. But goals from David Beckham and a brace from Ruud van Nistelrooy secured the points, having twice been behind.

FULHAM are embarking on a sixth Premiership campaign. Since promotion to the big League in 2001, the Cottagers have hovered in mid table between a Premier League best ninth in 2003-04 and worst of 14th in 2002-03.

Manchester United are the only club to have beaten Fulham in an opening day fixture in 14 years. The Thames-side club have won two and drawn two of subsequent Premiership openers since the reverse at Old Trafford in 2001.

The Cottagers' only points in five Premiership trips to the Theatre of Dreams came in a 1-3 victory on 25 October 2003, when Lee Clark, Steed Malbranque and Junichi Inamoto were their scorers.

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)



Last season: 2nd 83 points

1. This is United's 82nd season of top flight football and 32nd on the trot, since 1975.

2. Once again they boasted the biggest gates in the Premiership with an average of 68,765. That was 16,000 more than the next largest - Newcastle.

3. Lost only one home League game last season (1-2 to Blackburn on 24 September).

4. Failed to score in fewer top flight games than any other club last term - just five, but claimed a point from four of them.

5. Scored 106 goals in all competitions. That was two more than Liverpool, who played 62 games as opposed to United's 56.

6. Won 339 Premier League matches - more than any other club. Arsenal are the second most winning team with 289.

7. Became the first club to score 1,000 goals in the history of the Premiership. Their tally is now 1,057, while Arsenal have totalled 911.

8. Won their opening Premiership fixture in five of the last six seasons.

9. Unbeaten in 16 home League games (12 wins, four draws).


Last season: 12th 48 points

1. Competing in 18th season of top tier soccer.

2. Took four matches to record their first victory last season.

3. The 1-0 home win over Everton on 27 August was Fulham's only maximum in their first nine Premiership fixtures last term.

4. Drawn their opening match in each of the last two seasons.

5. Needed 18 attempts to register an away League victory. The only maximum on the road came from a 1-2 triumph at Manchester City in their penultimate trip.

6. Ended the League campaign with four wins in five games.



Edwin VAN DER SAR was one of 10 ever presents in the Premiership last season - seven of which were goalkeepers.

Ruud VAN NISTELROOY (now a Real Madrid player) was United's leading scorer last season with 24 goals, 21 of which were League goals. The Dutchman scored eight Premiership goals against Fulham in five seasons with the Red Devils, including one hat track and two doubles.

If he plays, Liam MILLER will be making his 100th club career appearance.


Brian McBRIDE was one of only three outfield players to have been an ever-present in the Premiership last season.

Collins JOHN was Fulham's leading scorer last season with 12 - 11 of which came in the Premiership.

If he participates, Heider HELGUSON will be playing two days before turning 29.

Mark PEMBRIDGE needs one more appearance to total 400 in his League career.

Manchester United 4-2 Fulham
4 February 2006 - Ref: Martin Atkinson
Man United scorers: Bocanegra 6 og, Ronaldo 14, Saha 23, Ronaldo 86
Fulham scorers: McBride 22, Helguson 37

League: Man Utd 29 wins, Fulham 10, Draws 13
Prem: Man Utd 6 wins, Fulham 1, Draws 3

HEAD TO HEAD at Manchester U
League: Man Utd 21 wins, Fulham 2, Draws 3
Prem: Man Utd 4 wins, Fulham 1, Draws 0

Stats from the BBC.