Manchester City are set to welcome newly promoted Fulham to the Etihad with Pep Guardiola eyeing a win to keep pace with Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.
Manchester City manager had stressed on winning their next game after dropping two points when they visited Wolves in August. As he had wanted, Manchester City wasted no time in dispatching Newcastle United in their last encounter before the International break to finish with a win. Now they take on yet another promoted side, this time at the Etihad, and Guardiola will be hoping their performances do not fall off the grid.
Due to that draw with Wolves, City have already lost pace, with Liverpool and Chelsea occupying the top berths in the Premier League table and knows its imperative his side keep their winning run going to keep pace, especially if the top teams make an error. Guardiola is expected to win the Fulham game, but the visitors are in a good run of form themselves.
Fulham have scored six goals in their last two games, in their 4-2 win over Burnley and the 2-2 draw with Brighton. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic knows well that it would take a whole lot from this team to stop Manchester City, especially if they get into their full stride, something like how they performed against Huddersfield earlier in the season.
But Jokanovic will be in optimistic mood considering his team’s form and will want to keep hold of the City attackers in a bid to get a result, if not a win. But the Etihad has been something of a graveyard for promoted sides, especially since Guardiola took over as manager, but the next 90 mins would tell if the story continues or if Fulham can bring a twist in the tale.
Team News & Tactics
Pep Guardiola does not have many concerns with injuries and suspensions in his squad, but that would make up for a selection headache ahead of the Fulham game. Claudio Bravo and Kevin De Bruyne are the only long-term absentees for City, with the Belgian set to play no part against Fulham. However Guardiola’s team selection is based on the quality of players he has remains a last minute decision before the game.
On the other hand, Raheem Sterling is available to play and might play a part against Fulham, but suspect it might not be from the start. The England forward withdrew from his National side’s games against Spain and Switzerland with complaints about a back injury, but according to Guardiola, the forward is fit and has returned to training.
That said, Riyad Mahrez could continue on the right side of attack, but it remains to be seen if Leroy Sane will be selected this time after being dropped altogether from the matchday squad to face Newcastle in City’s last game. Aguero will likely continue in goal after he too dropped out of the Argentina squad for their friendlies during the International break.
Ederson will continue in goal, and Aro Muric will be the second choice keeper, covering for the injured Claudio Bravo. In defence, Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte to maintain their central defensive partnership with Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy acting as full-backs on either side of the pitch.
Probable Starting-XI (4-1-3-2) – Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; Fernandinho; Mahrez, B.Silva, D.Silva; Jesus, Aguero
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has some injury concerns to key players ahead of his side’s visit to Manchester City. Fulham will be without captain Tom Cairney who suffered a foot injury against Burnley and is yet to recover from it. Additionally, midfielder, Neeskens Kebano and Defender Tim Ream are also absentees for Fulham, as they are yet to recover from ankle and thigh injuries sustained earlier.
But on paper, Fulham have a strong enough squad to face the toughest oppositions, especially in the midfield area. Fulham will line with a midfield three of Anguissa, McDonald and Jean-Michael Seri.
In attack Ryan, Sessegnon might be dropped from his left-attacking position and moved to a left-back role to accommodate Andre Schurrle after the German’s bright displays so far since signing for the Cottagers. On the right side, Luciano Vietto, on-loan from Atletico Madrid, might start, with both the German and Spaniard supporting Aleksandar Mitrovic up front, who has so far scored four times already this season.
Probable Starting-XI (4-3-3) – Bettenelli; Fosu-Mensah, Odoi, Mawson, Sessegnon; McDonald, Anguissa, Seri; Vietto, Schurrle, Mitrovic
- Manchester City is unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League encounters against Fulham, winning 7.
- the last promoted team to beat Pep Guardiola were Real Sociedad back in 2011.
- Man City hasn’t lost a home Premier League game to a promoted side since losing to Reading back in 2007.
- Manchester City have only lost twice in 40 home games since Pep Guardiola took over.
- Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has scored 27 goals in 34 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams, including 12 goals in his last 11.
1. Manchester City vs Fulham – Fulham Asian Handicap + 2.5 @ 1.940
Player to Watch
Aguero has scored 27 of his Premier League goals against promoted sides in 34 games so far in his City career. Additionally this season, like every other one, Aguero has started brightly for City, setting the pace for the division’s top goalscorer pretty much early int he season.
The Argentine has the liking to exploit weaker and newly promoted teams, and his recent hattrick against Huddersfield highlighted that point.
Against Fulham, Aguero knows he has yet another opportunity to get back to the summit of goalscorers in league with another brilliant performance. Aguero is currently in his prime and expect the striker to score a few, especially against sides like Fulham.
Manchester City 3-1 Fulham
There cannot be any doubt that this City team led by Pep Guardiola could be troubled by a newly promoted side, especially when the game is at the Etihad, where City have been impenetrable. Manchester City tends to dominate teams and then score plenty of goals against weaker opposition without a handbrake.
Expect plenty of goals from City against Fulham, although the Cottagers have the attackers in their squad to trouble the best of teams in the league. There could be a chance that City might concede, but even then, expect Pep Guardiola’s men to take all three points comfortably.