Manchester City travel to London with a chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier League, while relegation looms large for Fulham.
Fulham almost gave Liverpool a scare during the last matchday in the Premier League, and manager Scott Parker will consider it a positive performance. Earlier, Fulham nearly earned a point against Chelsea, and while that performance could also be considered a move in the right direction, the club are inching towards the Championship as the Premier League season reaches its business end.
The Cottagers have now suffered 11 defeats in their last 12 games in the league, and it has come to a do or die situation for the Londoners. At this critical stage, they wouldn’t want to face someone like Manchester City who are in the hunt for back-to-back Premier League crowns. A result against Pep Guardiola’s side will mark some positivity, although a defeat will be another step towards relegation.
Manchester City have been in rampant form as they come into this game trailing Liverpool at the top by two points, although they have a game in hand. With a win, City will reclaim their top spot on the table, although Liverpool could move clear once more if they win their game against Tottenham on Sunday.
Guardiola will be hoping that most of his players return from their international duties fully fit and help the team in their push for three trophies. From now and till the end of the season, City could be playing about 15 games, and with such a tight schedule, every player’s contribution and presence is essential.
Team News & Tactics
There are few concerns with injuries for Parker to ponder. Alfie Mawson and Marcus Bettinelli will likely miss out the game due to a knock and knee injury respectively. Andre Schurrle, on the other hand, is suffering through illness due to a virus and his involvement will depend on a late assessment.
Tim Ream and Jean Michael Seri have missed major portions of training this week due to their involvement with the their national teams and will be assessed close to the game. Both are expected to feature against the reigning champions.
Parker is expected to keep the shape of the side similar to their games against Chelsea and Liverpool. It could mean using Tom Cairney in his favoured attacking position, while also playing Ryan Sessegnon in the team. Sessegnon is expected to play from a wide area in what looks like a 4-2-3-1 formation for Fulham.
One player, who is destined to play from the start is Ryan Babel. The 32-year-old Netherlands International has had a hand in more goals than any other player in the Cottagers side since making his debut for Fulham in January.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Rico; Fosu-Mensah, Chambers, Ream, Bryan; Anguissa, Seri; Babel, Cairney, Sessegnon; Mitrovic
Pep Guardiola will have to pick and choose the right team if he wants to take all three points here. Manchester City have the best squad depth among any side in the league. Nicolas Otamendi pulled out of the Argentina squad through injury but is fit, while captain Vincent Kompany has also recovered from his injury.
John Stones, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho have also made full returns from their respective injuries, while star left-back Benjamin Mendy is also fully fit and ready for action. However, none of the returning players except for Stones are likely to start on Saturday.
Ilkay Gundogan is expected to start as the deepest of the three central midfielders for Manchester City, flanked by the two Silvas – Bernardo and David.
One player who is certain to play is Sergio Aguero, with the Argentine having been involved in 6 goals in his last 4 games against Fulham. The Argentine will be supported in the final third by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, David Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
- Fulham are winless in 13 games against Manchester City in all competitions (W0 D3 L10) and have lost the last seven consecutively.
- Manchester City have won their last six Premier League meetings with Fulham, scoring 19 goals and conceding just three since drawing 2-2 in September 2011.
- Fulham have lost seven consecutive top-flight matches against an opponent on one previous occasion, losing eight in a row against Manchester United between 2005 and 2009.
- Manchester City haven’t failed to score against Fulham in all competitions since a 0-0 draw in March 2004, netting 51 goals in their 23 games since.
- After a run of six straight Premier League wins in London, Manchester City lost their last such game against Chelsea in December, although they have not lost consecutive games in the capital since December 2015.
Player to Watch
It’s fair to say Aguero has been one of the chief driving forces behind Manchester City’s performances, but it’s his partner in attack Raheem Sterling who has been on fire in the last few weeks. The England International has scored 8 goals and assisted two in his previous five games for club and country and is undoubtedly City’s most important player currently.
With his team fighting on three fronts, as Manchester City are very much in the hunt for the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, Sterling is very much needed to keep his electric form intact and help City achieve the improbable quadruple. If his current form is anything to go by, expect Sterling to put on a show against a Fulham side that has struggled defensively.
Fulham 0-4 Manchester City
Fulham, have been re-energised under Parker, although a test against Manchester City is too much to ask as the Cottagers stare at relegation. There’s no light in sight at the end of the tunnel for Fulham as they brace themselves for yet another defeat, and Manchester City are not known to show any mercy.
City’s forwards, combined with Fulham’s lacklustre defence will ensure this game goes in favour of Guardiola’s men, who are expected to reclaim their place on top of the Premier League table.