Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Fulham, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The Citizens currently sit second in the table and two points adrift of leaders Arsenal, while the Cottagers are flying high in seventh place, five points behind the top four.
After securing a slender 1-0 victory away at Leicester City last weekend, courtesy of a stunning Kevin De Bruyne free kick, Man City capped off their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 3-1 success at home against Sevilla on Wednesday.
In what was a dead rubber fixture for the Citizens, who had already qualified for the last 16 as Group A winners, Rafa Mir headed the visitors in front before half time, but 17-year-old Rico Lewis equalised on his full debut – breaking a Champions League record in the process – before Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez completed the comeback to keep the Sky Blues unbeaten in this season’s competition.
Indeed, City’s win over Sevilla is the first of four successive matches at the Etihad before the World Cup break, with Saturday’s clash against Fulham followed by next Wednesday’s EFL Cup third-round tie with Chelsea and a Premier League encounter against Brentford.
Guardiola’s men have put together an impressive 14-game winning streak on home soil in all competitions – scoring at least three goals in all but one of those fixtures – and they are unbeaten in their last 18 matches at the Etihad since a 3-2 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur back in February.
City have already scored 10 goals at home against two newly-promoted teams this season, beating Bournemouth 4-0 and Nottingham Forest 6-0 in August, and they will be confident of more success against Fulham this weekend.
The Citizens have won each of their last 12 meetings in all competitions against the Cottagers, and claiming another victory would see Guardiola’s side momentarily climb to the Premier League summit before leaders Arsenal travel to Chelsea on Sunday.
Fulham were unable to claim a third successive Premier League victory last weekend as they were forced to play out a goalless draw at home against Everton.
The Cottagers registered just six of their 24 shots on target and head coach Marco Silva was left ruing several missed opportunities to win the match against a resilient Toffees outfit, who had an inspired Jordan Pickford to thank between the sticks.
Nevertheless, after winning the Championship title last season, Fulham fans will be delighted to see their side sitting seventh in the Premier League table, eight points clear of the relegation zone and above the likes of Liverpool, West Ham United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City who all finished the previous campaign in the top half.
Fulham have already accumulated more points this season (19) after 13 games than they managed at this stage of the 2018-19 (eight) and 2020-21 (nine) campaigns combined, but adding more points to their tally could prove challenging this weekend.
The West Londoners have lost each of their last nine Premier League meetings against Man City, failing to score in their last five, and they have also won just two of their 15 top-flight away matches against reigning champions, although they did secure a 1-0 win in their most recent such meeting against Liverpool in March 2021.
In addition, three of Fulham’s four Premier League victories against Man City have come at the Etihad – most recently a 3-1 win in April 2009 – which bodes well for Silva and co heading into Saturday’s contest.
Manchester City Premier League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Fulham Premier League form:
Guardiola is hopeful that Erling Braut Haaland will be fit to lead the line for Man City on Saturday; the Norwegian striker has missed the last two games with ankle ligament damage and will be assessed ahead of kickoff.
Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips both remain sidelined as they continue to recover from respective groin and shoulder surgeries, but there is optimism around both players in their quest to return before the World Cup.
Centre-back Manuel Akanji missed training earlier this week and was not involved on Wednesday, but he is expected to be fit for Saturday’s game and could return to the back four along with Joao Cancelo, John Stones and Nathan Ake, who were all benched in midweek.
As for Fulham, Silva is forced to make at least two changes to his starting lineup, as makeshift right-back Bobby Decordova-Reid is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards, while Neeskens Kebano is ruled out for “several months” with a ruptured Achilles.
Kenny Tete recovered from injury to feature as a substitute last weekend and the Dutchman is the most likely candidate to replace Decordova-Reid at right-back, joining Issa Diop, Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson in the back four.
The absence of Kebano could see either Daniel James or Harry Wilson handed a start on the right flank, joining Willian and Aleksandar Mitrovic in attack – only Haaland (17) and Harry Kane (10) have scored more Premier League goals than Mitrovic (nine) so far this season.
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Stones, Akanji, Ake, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo; Foden, Haaland, Grealish
Fulham possible starting lineup:
Leno; Tete, Diop, Ream, Robinson; Reed, Palhinha; James, Pereira, Willian; Mitrovic
We say: Manchester City 4-1 Fulham
Teams visiting the Etihad Stadium have found it difficult to keep Man City quiet in front of goal so far this season, and even if Haaland is not fit to feature, the Citizens still possess an attacking threat capable of breaching Fulham’s backline.
The Cottagers will fancy their chances in the final third, having already scored against Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle United this term, but we expect the hosts to outscore their opponents and secure their 10th league win of the season.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 3.5:data
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