Premier League preview: Manchester United v Fulham
Manchester United control their own destiny in the English Premier League title race as they prepare to host Fulham on Monday.
United trailed local rivals Manchester City for much of the campaign so far, before their neighbours' 1-0 loss away to Swansea earlier this month gifted the reigning champions top spot.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men took full advantage of that slip up, thrashing Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-0 to go four points clear in first place.
City narrowly avoided another damaging result on Wednesday, coming from a goal down to beat Chelsea 2-1 at home, dragging themselves back to within a point of United.
Roberto Mancini's challengers are in action two days earlier than United this week, when they go away to Stoke.
Maximum points at the Britannia Stadium will see City regain the lead, but only until United step out against Fulham at Old Trafford.
United have been far from their imperious best in 2011/12, bowing out of the Champions League and the FA Cup at a surprisingly early stage in both tournaments.
And they failed to progress in the Europa League, losing in the round of 16 5-3 on aggregate to Spanish side Athletic Bilbao.
But the Premier League is the one competition where United have maintained their traditional consistency - they have recorded eight wins in the last nine matches, and also came from 3-0 down to manage a morale-boosting 3-3 draw away to Chelsea.
Their opponents on Monday, Martin Jol's Fulham, have endured mixed fortunes in recent weeks.
They enjoyed a run of three successive wins between February and early March, beating Stoke City at home and Queens Park Rangers, before registering a crushing 5-0 win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But since then Fulham have lost 1-0 at Aston Villa, and went down 3-0 at home to Swansea City in their most recent fixture.
Dutchman Jol is fortunate to have close to a fully fit squad to choose from, with only Steve Sidwell, Zdenek Grygera and Orlando Sa on the sidelines.
United have done well to maintain their winning record despite a host of absentees.
Defender Phil Jones could be back from a bout of illness for the visit of Fulham, while goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard (foot) and reserve striker Michael Owen (thigh strain) should return in early April.
Winger Nani (ankle) is out indefinitely, while midfielder Darren Fletcher (illness) and centre-back Nemanja Vidic (knee) will not return this season.