Paul Parker

Fulham point against United no surprise

Paul Parker

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Fulham's point against another of my former
clubs Manchester United did not come as any surprise at the weekend.

Craven Cottage is becoming a bit of a bogey
ground for United, Fulham having won the pair's previous two league encounters there
before the weekend's stalemate.

It can be a difficult place to go to. When
it's sold out, it can be quite a good atmosphere and other big clubs may
struggle there this season.

Mark Hughes's arrival at the Cottage will
have helped too and the players will have wanted to give their all on his first
game in charge at home.

I predicted a draw before the game, but
after the first 25 minutes of play, I thought Fulham were heading for a mauling,
with United looking so good.

But it didn't quite turn out like that, and
Fulham got themselves back into the game before Hughes changed things around at

Sparky tightened things up at the break and
the second half was a different story. They minimised the size of the areas
United were playing in, thereby stopping Paul Scholes from playing his game and
reducing his influence.

Without any space for United to play in, Fulham
got a great deal of joy in the end.

Not least through Bobby Zamora, who put in
a good performance, although I still don't think that, at the age of 29, he is
the future of England's strike force, despite the increasing clamour for him to
become so.

Zamora imposed himself on United's
centre-back pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans, both of whom had their
hands full in dealing with his power.

The form of Vidic in particular will have
caused some concern for Alex Ferguson. To be honest, he has struggled to recover
from that disastrous performance against Liverpool at Old Trafford two years ago.

He's lost his edge and he is definitely not
the same commanding centre-half who first arrived at Old Trafford - and that
was all too easily highlighted by Zamora at the weekend.

The absence of Rio Ferdinand is not helping
United and Vidic's cause at the moment, but Evans deserves a decent run in the
side, even if he looked a little shaky at Craven Cottage.

Already United find themselves a couple of
points behind in the title race, with Chelsea's incredible scoring form looking
very ominous.

The champions have been brilliant so far -
forget about the quality of the sides they've played. West Brom and Wigan may
not be the greatest teams ever, but while Chelsea were expected to take all six
points from the two games, it has been the manner of victory that has so

They may well have been 'easy' games on
paper, but Chelsea have gone out and beaten them well. Battered them.

To go and score six in each match, off the
back of a storming finish to last season, gives Chelsea a certain sense of invincibility
at the moment.

For sure, they'll be tested more against
the bigger boys but so far they've done all that can be expected of them - and
probably a little bit more.

It will be interesting to see how they cope
at the back when faced with a team that can actually get through their incredibly
strong midfield.

There are still big question marks over
John Terry and time will tell just how much they will miss Ricardo Carvalho -
for me their best central defender.

But for the time being, once again Chelsea
are setting the standard in the Premier League.

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