Manchester City will be aiming to take another step closer to the Premier League title when they lock horns with Fulham this weekend.
Manchester City will be hoping to continue their march towards the 2020/21 Premier League crown when they travel to Craven Cottage to take on relegation battlers Fulham on Saturday night.
Manchester City’s sensational 21-game unbeaten streak came to an end last week at the hands of neighbours Manchester United. But they bounced back to winning ways immediately and in style, beating Southampton 5-2 earlier this week to open up a fourteen-point lead at the top.
And they will be aiming to maintain that lead and move closer to toppling Liverpool as the champions of England. However, things might get tricky for Pep Guardiola & co. against a Fulham side that has shown great guts and resilience in their battle to avoid the drop.
Indeed, Scott Parker’s men have been able to draw level on points to 17th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion following a hard-earned 1-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield last week which meant they have lost just once in their last seven games. And they will be pushing to add another major scalp in the form of the league leaders come Saturday.
The reverse fixture saw Manchester City emerge 2-0 winners courtesy of first-half strikes from Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne. And ahead of their latest meeting this weekend at Craven Cottage, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Heading into Saturday’s game, Fulham have just a couple of absentees with goalkeeper Marek Rodak recovering from a finger injury while Tom Cairney is back in training after having put behind his knee issue but needs time to get back to match fitness.
One of the main reasons behind Fulham’s recent resurgence has been the resilience in their defensive unit. And Scott Parker is unlikely to tinker with any of his personnel at the back with Alphonse Areola manning the goal while Joachim Andersen and former Manchester City ace Tosin Adarabioyo line up as the centre-halves. Kenny Tete and Ola Aina should slot in as the two full-backs.
Harrison Reed will sit deep in the middle of the park and provide further protection to the backline with support coming from Mario Lemina, who scored the only goal of the game last time out against Liverpool. That would mean Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are benched once again.
Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ademola Lookman will take up the wide areas and look to exploit any spaces left behind by the Manchester City full-backs using their pace. At the top, January signing Josh Maja has made a good impact and should continue alongside Ivan Cavaleiro, with Aleksandar Mitrovic an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Areola; Tete, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Aina; Reid, Lemina, Reed, Lookman; Maja, Cavaleiro
Unlike Fulham, Manchester City have no injury concerns whatsoever ahead of their trip to London. Having rung in the changes for the midweek game against Southampton, Pep Guardiola is likely to reinstate some of the regulars that missed out.
But, the Manchester City manager will also have an eye on the UEFA Champions League clash against Borussia Monchengladbach next week when selecting his team. No change is expected in goal, with Ederson Moraes the undisputed starter between the sticks for the champions-elect.
Fully focussed on Fulham! 💪
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 12, 2021
John Stones should replace Aymeric Laporte at the heart of the defence after being rested in midweek. He will line up alongside his usual partner-in-crime, Ruben Dias. Kyle Walker should continue at right-back to combat the pace of Ademola Lookman. But Joao Cancelo should come in to complete the backline, with the Portuguese essaying his hybrid full-back midfielder role.
Rodri is another player that was given a breather in midweek but is likely to be reinstated at the base of the Manchester City midfield from where he will make use of his precise distribution to launch attacks. Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan ought to be the other two central midfielders tasked with providing the creative essence.
Riyad Mahrez, based on his current form, deserves a starting berth out on the right flank while Raheem Sterling should come in on the left after being left out in midweek. Gabriel Jesus could spearhead the Manchester City attack but will need to be clinical against a robust Fulham defence.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.80
1. Raheem Sterling to score first @ 5.50
- Manchester City have won 16 of their last 17 matches in the Premier League.
- Fulham are winless in their last 13 Premier League meetings against Manchester City (D3 L10).
- Manchester City have won their last seven Premier League away games by an aggregate score of 19-3. The league leaders have just lost once on the road this term in the competition (W9 D3).
- Fulham have won three of their last six Premier League games (D2 L1). They have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven league outings.
- Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in their last six encounters against Fulham across all competitions.
Player to Watch
Riyad Mahrez in the PL in 2021🇩🇿
Winner vs Everton ⚽️
Assisted Winner vs Arsenal 🅰️
Assisted Winner vs West Ham 🅰️
Created Winner vs Wolves 🎯
Winner vs Southampton ⚽️
10 points won since the new year 🔥 He’s back to his best 👑 pic.twitter.com/BwWeuGN6Xl
— Sas (@KDBased) March 11, 2021
The Algerian international has been almost unstoppable in the past few games for Manchester City. Having starred in the win over Wolves last week, Mahrez was one of the few positives for the Cityzens in the defeat to Manchester United. And he followed it up with another stunning display against Southampton this midweek.
Mahrez has now directly been involved in five goals in his last five league appearances (3 goals, 2 assists) while his overall tally for the season across all competition reads 10 goals and 5 assists from 36 games. He will be hoping to add to that tally on Saturday against Fulham and lead his team to another victory.
Fulham 0-2 Manchester City
Fulham, for all their solid rearguard, have been found wanting at the other end of the pitch. Indeed, the Cottagers have failed to score in six of their last eight home games in the Premier League and have netted just eight goals at Craven Cottage all season in the competition.
So, despite their win over Liverpool last time out, it is unlikely that they will be able to break through the best defence in the league. And even though Scott Parker’s men will make life difficult for their visitors, the Cityzens have shown that they have the quality to break down resolute defences and should be able to do so on Saturday.
The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a 2-0 win for Pep Guardiola & co., taking them another step closer to the league title.