Malacia has had a couple of morale-boosting moments with the block on Robinson’s cross and that piece of vigilant defending, although the latter was uncertain and he is loath to using his right foot.
The United defenders are entitled to wonder when the forwards are going to give them some respite. United have not been able to keep the ball and those early direct passes that bypassed the congestion have dried up. United are effectively a forward light with Elanga, whose role seems more defensive-minded to protect Malacia.
As enterprising as Fulham have been, United’s defenders (bar Malacia) have performed well. You can’t say the same for Fulham’s defenders, who have been very obliging hosts and Ten Hag is entitled to be disappointed the scoreline still reads 1-0.
Fulham have already expended a lot of energy this half and that could play into United’s hands. A few United players are already warming up and if Ten Hag is doing some forward planning he has to consider Malacia, fortunate not to have been booked for a late challenge on Willian.
Malacia has looked well off the pace so far and will no doubt get booked when the ball next goes out of play. United remain in control but there is a real open feel about the match with most chances coming for either side on the break.
Fernandes has had a really good first 20 minutes, almost as if he’s intent on proving a point after his role was occupied by Van de Beek in the last few games.
— Troll Football (@UKTrollFootball) November 13, 2022