A much-awaited and hugely important return to league football following the international break sees Manchester City travel to relegation candidates Fulham.
The Blues go into the fixture in second place but hold a game in hand over front-runners Liverpool. A win at Craven Cottage would put them top and kick-start a vital run of Premier League fixtures that, providing they all result in a win, would gift City the title come May.
Saturday’s opposition Fulham could not be in different circumstances – they sit 19th in the table and 13 points from safety following seven consecutive defeats, in which they have conceded 17 goals and scored just 4. They are in a dire position – they have the worst defence in the league, they’ve picked up 3 points in their last 10 games, and have the worst goal difference in the top four English leagues.
City, meanwhile, are on lightning form, having accumulated 27 points out of a possible 30 in the last 10 premier league fixtures. Their tally of 79 goals is the highest out of anyone in the top four leagues. Adding to that, the last time Fulham got a result against City was almost a decade ago – a 3-1 win in April 2009.
Compare the records of both teams and the more pessimistic City fans can only draw one conclusion – we’ll lose tomorrow. Realistically though, the likelihood is that City will get the win and will take advantage of our attackers’ good form to put four or five past Fulham.
Moving on to team news: In a shocking turn of events, City have suffered no fresh injury concerns over the international break, despite the best efforts of Serbia’s Milan Pavkov, observed in his brutal stamp on Leroy Sane’s ankle.
In fact, the Blues return from the interval with a whole host of new players potentially returning to action: Nicholas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho, Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones, and Benjamin Mendy are all back training. What a list.
Fulham’s key introduction could be that of Andre Schurrle, who may be on the return after he missed five matches with what must have been quite a fierce virus. Talented defender Alfie Mawson is nearing his return after a knee issue but is unlikely to feature.
Tomorrow’s match is a continuation of caretaker manager Scott Parker’s gruelling introduction to first-team coaching which has included games against Chelsea, Leicester, and Liverpool, before City. He’ll be hoping that City struggle to return to form following the international break, but he won’t enjoy reading the list of our results immediately following internationals:
5-0 v Liverpool, 7-2 v Stoke, 2-0 v Leicester, 3-1 v Everton, 3-0 v Fulham, 5-0 v Burnley, 4-0 v West Ham
Surely this looks like three points in the bag. As Guardiola’s men hunt down an unprecedented quadruple, games like these simply must result in a big victory.
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