Man United will terrorize Fulham with this one vital change from Ten Hag

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Today at Old Trafford, Manchester United must defeat Fulham if they are to advance to the FA Cup semifinals.

Here, The Folks Person examines how Erik ten Hag may win by taking advantage of Fulham’s own defensive set-up.

However as evidenced in their game against Arsenal, Fulham frequently shifts into a lopsided form of the 4-4-2 defense. In that game, Bobby Cordova-Reid was charged with following Oleksandr Zinchencko while an effective Manor Solomon remained high to provide a threat to the defense.

Fulham’s issue was that Leandro Trossard moved into midfield at the same time Zinchenko did. Due to that double-movement, Fulham frequently found themselves in a 4v3 situation in the middle of the field whenever Arsenal had the ball there. The ability to counterpress more effectively after losing control also offered the Gunners a distinct edge.

The positions of Solomon and Cordova-Reid also allowed Arteta’s wingers to have a lot of room. Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka combined for 90 touches and five successful dribbles, demonstrating how simple it was for Arsenal to set them up in one-on-one situations.

Erik ten Hag’s options suggest that Man United will probably adopt a similar strategy on Sunday.

Luke Shaw routinely playing this role against Fulham might provide a variety of issues for the Cottagers, as the Dutchman has made a point of encouraging his fullbacks to move into the middle of the field to help possession plays.

Although Jadon Sancho would probably be the best choice to play the “Trossard role” as a false nine dropping deep to create a central overload, Wout Weghorst has started every game since joining, so it’s feasible that the on-loan striker will get the nod.

From a United perspective, the space those moves will give Marcus Rashford and Antony is where things get really fascinating (if fit). Fulham’s unbalanced approach to overloading the middle of the pitch will probably give the wingers lots of opportunity to maneuver.

As Kenny Tete and Antonee Robinson aren’t exactly the finest one-on-one defenders in the league, if the central attacker can drag a center back as he drops deep, a space will open up behind them.

Nonetheless, it should be highlighted that Manchester United will find it much harder than Arsenal did to take advantage of Fulham’s middle orientation. Joao Palhinha’s return will provide the Cottagers an advantage when they travel to Old Trafford because he is to Marco Silva what Casemiro is to Ten Hag.

It will still be more than possible to open up the flanks with quick combination play in the middle to escape the Portugal star known as “the tackle machine,” but it will be essential to keep a strong tempo to avoid getting caught up in a series of midfield confrontations.

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