Manchester City play hosts to fellow Premier League outfit Fulham in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Thursday night.

Manchester City will go head to head against Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

City, the current trophy holders, defeated lower league opponents Oxford United 3-0 in the previous round of the competition and are unbeaten in all domestic competitions in the 2018-19 season. Pep Guardiola’s side come into the game on the back of a 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Monday and will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run further.

Fulham, on the other hand, haven’t had the best of the starts on their return to the English top-flight. The Cottagers are languishing at 18th position on the league table currently and were hammered 3-0 by Bournemouth this past weekend. Having beaten Millwall 3-1 in the previous round of the Carabao Cup, Slavisa Jokanovic’s men will face a gargantuan task at their hands on Thursday.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

There is some good news for the reigning Premier League champions heading into the midweek game, as midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has returned to training and is likely to get some game time. Full-back Danilo (ankle) and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (Achilles tendon) continue to be sidelined for Manchester City.

Four players under the age of 20 made an appearance in the previous round and there is a strong possibility that Guardiola will ring in the changes and give some of the fringe members of his side a run out on Thursday.

19-year-old goalkeeper Arijanet Muric is likely to deputise for first-choice custodian Ederson against the Cottagers. There are likely to be a few personnel changes in defence, with Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi expected to start as the two centre-backs, while Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko will occupy the full-back slots for the home team.

Star playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is likely to start on Thursday, having not been involved against Spurs earlier this week. He should be partnered up with the fit-again Gundogan, while the third midfield slot is likely to be taken up by the immensely talented Phil Foden, who scored against Oxford in the last round of the competition.

Leroy Sane is another who missed the Spurs game and is in line for a starting berth on Thursday on the left flank, with teenage attacking midfielder Brahim Diaz likely to get the nod on the opposite wing. Gabriel Jesus will lead the line for the Citizens, in place of Sergio Aguero.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Muric; Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Gundogan, Foden; Diaz, Jesus, Sane

Fulham

Full-back Joe Bryan is a long-term absentee for Jokanovic’s side, while experienced midfielder Kevin McDonald is ruled out of contention. 15-year-old wonderkid Harvey Elliott, who made his debut against Millwall in the previous round, has travelled with the squad.

Marcus Bettinelli is in line to start between the sticks, having been omitted for the weekend defeat against Bournemouth. Cyrus Christie is expected to walk into the team at right-back, while summer signing Maxime Le Marchand should start on the opposite flank. Calum Chambers and Alfie Mawson are likely to start in the heart of the defence.

Captain Tom Cairney is fit again and having played for half an hour at the weekend, he is likely to feature from the get go on Thursday at the Etihad. He will be in charge of adding the creativity from the centre of the pitch. Stefan Johansen and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa will make up the rest of the midfield for the visitors.

20-year-old Luca de la Torre, who impressed in the previous round against Millwall is likely to get a run out on the right side of the attack for Fulham, while on-loan forward Luciano Vietto should come into the team on the left flank. Aleksandar Mitrovic is expected to spearhead the attack against the Premier League champions.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Christie, Chambers, Mawson, Le Marchand; Cairney, Zambo Anguissa, Johansen; de la Torre, Mitrovic, Vietto

Key Stats

  • The two teams have met on 64 occasions in competitive fixtures. Manchester City have tallied 31 victories in those games, while Fulham have racked up 17 wins.
  • The last League Cup encounter between City and Fulham happened in September 2009, with the former clinching a 2-1 victory, courtesy of goals from Gareth Barry and Kolo Toure.
  • The Premier League champions are unbeaten in their last 12 fixtures against Fulham, winning the last six on the trot.
  • Fulham have lost all of their four games, since their 3-1 win over Millwall in the Carabao Cup. In those four matches, Jokanovic’s side have conceded 15 goals in total, while managing to score just three.
  • Manchester City have won 12 of their 15 matches in all competitions this season (2 draws). Their only defeat came against Olympique Lyon in their UEFA Champions League opener.

Player to Watch

Leroy Sane

Time to step up and take his chance (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

Time to step up and take his chance (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

Following his omission from the Germany national team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the speedy winger has endured a difficult start to the campaign at Manchester City, with Guardiola overlooking him for a big chunk of the games in the early parts of the season.

However, Sane has done well to work his way back into the manager’s plans and reestablish himself in the first-team. The 22-year-old has scored twice – one of which came against Fulham in the league – and has three assists in 11 games in all competitions this term.

But, the fact that he was dropped by Guardiola for their last two big games against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur remains somewhat of a concern. With Riyad Mahrez the preferred choice ahead of the German, Sane will need to use the opportunity against Fulham to earn his place back in the team, more so after the Algerian’s match-winning display against Spurs on Monday.

Prediction

Manchester City 3-0 Fulham

Manchester City are in top form currently. The Carabao Cup holders have been beaten just once all season and have been putting away teams with ease. The attack looks sharp and incisive as ever, while defensively they have tightened up things very well too – they have now kept four clean sheets in a row.

Fulham, on the other hand, are all over the place. Big defeats in four matches in a row in the Premier League have left the Cottagers staring at the prospect of relegation and the manner in which they have been leaking goals indicates that the overall morale of the team is quite low.

The two teams met recently in the Premier League and Manchester City made light work of Fulham, ramping home to a comfortable 3-0 victory. And while Guardiola is likely to make alterations in plenty, the home team should still have enough quality on the pitch to see off the Londoners without much of a discomfort.

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