Fulham handed huge blow ahead of Man Utd clash as Premier League's top tackler ruled out

Manchester United will hope to continue their excellent Premier League form back at Old Trafford this weekend.

Fulham will be without Joao Palhinha for Saturday's trip to Manchester United after the midfielder picked up his 10th yellow card over the weekend.

Marco Silva's side lost 2-1 at home to Aston Villa on Saturday, having conceded twice to Ollie Watkins either side of half-time before Rodrigo Muniz pulled one back. The Cottagers pushed for an equaliser and in his desperation to win back possession and start an attack, Palhinha was booked for a late and reckless challenge on John McGinn.

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In accordance with Premier League rules, Palhinha will now serve a two-match ban due to reaching the 10 yellow card mark before Fulham's 32nd game. The midfielder missed Fulham's win over Wolves in November after picking up five yellow cards and will now miss Saturday's trip to Old Trafford, having become the first Premier League player to reach the unwanted milestone this season.

The suspension comes as a major blow for Fulham, who have been heavily reliant on Palhinha's defensive nous as the midfield anchor. The former Bayern Munich target has made 105 tackles this season, the most in the Premier League. In his absence, Silva will likely play Harrison Reed, who has only started one Premier League match since the start of December and is a significant drop off in terms of quality.

Saturday's clash at Old Trafford will see two sides in very different periods of form, with Fulham winning just two of their last nine matches. Silva's side have been horribly inconsistent throughout their campaign, typified through a December in which they won consecutive matches 5-0 before losing three on the bounce without scoring a single goal.

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United's season had been following a similarly inconsistent pattern but the turn of the year has seen them win six of their last seven across all competitions including all of their last five. Erik ten Hag's side were made to fight for three points at Luton Town on Sunday, Rasmus Hojlund netting both goals in a 2-1 win at Kenilworth Road.

The United manager will be quizzed on fitness issues among his own squad later in the week, with doubts over the fitness of Luke Shaw who was substituted before half-time on Sunday.

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