Aymeric Laporte to return, Phil Foden benched again – Manchester City vs Fulham Predicted XI (Premier League)

It’s Pep Guardiola’s 700th game as a manager, and he’ll look to guide his team to two Premier League wins in a row for the first time this season, as they take on 17th place Fulham at the Etihad.

The fact that Manchester City haven’t picked up back-to-back Premier League wins reflects just how inconsistent they’ve been recently, but there isn’t a better time to buck the trend than in two home games against relegation-battling clubs.

As for Fulham, while they haven’t had a brilliant start in the league, they are coming off the back of an away upset against Leicester City, so will know doubt be buoyed and up for the challenge.

The Blues have no new injuries to speak of and only Sergio Agüero remains ruled out despite “getting better”.

Here’s how we think City will line up:

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Ederson has been looking antsy lately, finding himself well outside his area with the ball at his feet on a few occasions. That’s part and parcel of what he brings though, and his instinctive reactions have been a big factor in the team’s defensive stability so far this season. With City looking to finally build momentum in the league, there’s no way he misses this one.

Having started in every Premier League game so far this season, and rested midweek, Kyle Walker is also certain to play from the outset at right-back. Left-back is a little trickier to predict but considering he was such a tour de force in the 5-0 win against Burnley, I think Benjamin Mendy will get the nod.

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Despite decrying the idea that changes to his side are rotational, Guardiola has kept Aymeric Laporte out of the side for long enough and should pick him here. At the end of the day, the Frenchman is one of the best centre-back’s in the league and can be forgiven a mistake against two of the most in-form forwards at Spurs.

As for who will partner him, Ruben Dias has started five in a row and could do with a rest, Nathan Aké shouldn’t be risked when we have a dead-rubber he can play in four days, and for the sake of the fans’ sanity alone, Eric Garcia should be nowhere near the stadium. It’s John Stones who should be given another chance to shine. He’s been terrific so far this season and it’d be great to see he has the full confidence of the manager.

In midfield we should brace ourselves for the double-pivot of Rodrigo and Ilkay Gündogan. While Rodri has played five games on the bounce, Guardiola doesn’t seem to trust any other play this position alone. Ahead of them, and captaining the side, Kevin De Bruyne is nailed on to start.

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(Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Up front, it has to be Gabriel Jesus leading the line. The Brazilian’s ball-control and confidence has improved tremendously these last few weeks’ and I think he’d start regardless of Aguero’s availability. With him I expect to see Riyad Mahrez on the right and Raheem Sterling on the left. The wingers cutting inside shouldn’t be too much of an issue if the full-backs can help provide the width needed to stretch out an undoubtedly defensively-minded side in Scott Parker’s Fulham.

Substitutes: Steffen, Dias, Cancelo, Fernandinho, Bernardo, Foden, Torres.

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You can follow Richard on Twitter here: @ignoblewretch

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