Club football is back as Manchester City travel to Craven Cottage to lock horns with Fulham on Saturday. However, the encounter won’t be the easy task that one might expect in a meeting between Pep Guardiola's City and the free-falling Cottagers . Just ask Liverpool.
Fulham might be on a losing spree due to their managerial changes and tweaks in formation, but they still possess a few dangerous players who can change the game in a blink of an eye. City will be happy in the knowledge that they haven’t done it on a frequent basis though, as the Cottagers lie 19th in the league table as they stare relegation in the face.
The clash against Manchester City will be Fulham’’s 12th and final match with the Premier League's top six sides this season, with them losing all previous 11 meetings while conceding two or more goals in every match. However, on a brighter note they have scored eight in those games.
Five of Fulham’s last 11 competitive clashes have ended in a 2-1 defeat for the Cottagers, which might give Pep a few headaches as he would know that teams lying in the bottom half of the table have the tendency to step up against Manchester City.
On the other side, Manchester City have been on a roll since the turn of the year. The Cityzens have won 18 of their 19 competitive matches (one in penalties) and the goals just won't stop flowing. Spearheaded by a rampant Sergio Agüero, the Blues have notched up an mind-boggling 64 goals at an average of 3.37 goals per match.
When it comes to facing Premier League’s current bottom five, Manchester City have an aggregate scoreline of 31-3. The Pep-managed side has rattled the net for five goals or more in four of those seven matches.
Fulham - Most Used Formations
Fulham generally play a traditional 4-3-3 with the front three of Ayite, Mitrovic and Ryan Babel. Cairney, Anguissa and Seri complete their three-man midfield, while Fosu-Mensah, Chambers, Ream and Bryan form their back four. Scott Parker might throw a few surprises and Ryan Sessegnon might be handed a start against Manchester City after being dropped off to the bench due to a poor run of form.
Fulham - Strengths
Fulham’s main strength lies with their attacking players. Aleksandar Mitrović has been a reliable outlet by scoring 10 Premier League goals already and City’s defensive line has to be careful about the Serbian’s aerial threat and his clever off-the-ball movement.
Apart from Mitrovic, Ryan Babel has also impressed in the last couple of months. The former Liverpool player has one assist and two goals in the last four Premier League matches and the Blues have another player to worry about in the match.
Fulham - Weaknesses
Fulham’s defence has been awful this season. The Cottagers have conceded a staggering 70 goals in 31 Premier League matches and their defence line clearly lacks a leader. None of the defensive players have stepped up throughout the season and that is the main reason behind Fulham’s free-falling season.
At least they won't change manager again?
Last 10 Head-to-Head results:
The Xtra View – "A Complete Mismatch"
Manchester City’s last defeat to Fulham came on April, 12, 2009 when Clint Dempsey silenced the Etihad with a stunning brace. Since then however, it has been an easy ride for the Blues against Fulham. With the injured players returning, expect an especially strong bench for Manchester City and a few minutes for the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy would just prepare them for the upcoming gruelling fixtures.
It's really a complete mismatch. I predict a 4-0 win for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola’s side will stay alive in their hunt for the ‘Quadruple’.
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