Fulham vs. Man City
Venue: Craven Cottage
Kick off: 9PM
After returning to winning ways in convincing fashion in midweek, runaway leaders Manchester City travel to Craven Cottage to take on relegation-threatened Fulham in the Premier League tonight.
The visitors crushed Southampton 5-2 at the Etihad in their most recent outing, while Fulham claimed a historic win on the Anfield turf over reigning champions Liverpool.
Liverpool were expected to end their home hoodoo when 18th-placed Fulham paid a visit to Merseyside last weekend, but incredibly, the Cottagers managed to prolong Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield misery as they marched to a 1-0 triumph on the champions’ turf on Sunday.
Mario Lemina’s first-half strike propelled Scott Parker’s men to a rare but unforgettable victory on the Anfield soil as they gave their survival hopes yet another huge boost with just their fifth league win of the season, as well as their second away triumph in the space of the month after another trip to Merseyside to face Everton also saw them prevail by two goals to nil.
Having lost just one of their last seven in the top flight – winning three and drawing the other three – Fulham have left Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion in their wake as they aim to preserve their Premier League status for another season, and Parker’s men now find themselves level on points with 17th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, albeit having played a game more.
Fulham’s new-found defensive solidity has seen them keep five clean sheets in their last seven outings, although their resolve will certainly be tested to the limit against a rampageous City today, and it has been their away form which has seen them inch closer to safety, with their results at Craven Cottage rather underwhelming by comparison.
Parker’s men are unbeaten on rival territory since the turn of the year, but they have won just one of their last 10 Premier League matches on home soil and can boast a mere eight goals at Craven Cottage all season – the fewest in the league – so if they are to have any chance of clambering to safety before Brighton face Southampton on Sunday lunchtime, they will need to produce an exact replica of their Anfield performance against a City side who are firmly back on track.
Manchester United’s shock victory at the Etihad was never likely to derail City’s title bid, and Pep Guardiola’s men immediately bounced back from the disappointment of their 21-game winning run coming to an end with a 5-2 thrashing of Southampton on Wednesday evening.
Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez both bagged braces while Ilkay Gundogan also found himself back amongst the goals at the Etihad Stadium, and even though Guardiola would have been frustrated to see his formerly solid defence breached twice against the Saints, his free-flowing attacking charges demonstrated their usual panache to sweep aside their South Coast opponents.
The league leaders’ staunch rearguard action has been admirable all season long, but a hint of apprehension may be creeping in for Guardiola as his side have now kept just one clean sheet in their last six top-flight outings, although their record of 21 goals conceded is by far the fewest in the league as they sit 14 points clear at the top of the rankings.
Man City will of course have one eye on their impending Champions League last-16 second leg with Borussia Monchengladbach – which will now take place in Budapest – but their trip to Fulham marks their final Premier League outing before the international break, and nothing less than a 13th successive away win will do for Guardiola as they aim to hit the 70-point mark this afternoon.
The table-toppers cruised to a 2-0 triumph over Fulham when the sides first met in the 2020-21 campaign, and the Cottagers have gone 13 top-flight games without a win against Man City since prevailing 3-1 back in April 2009, while they have not beaten the Manchester giants at Craven Cottage in the Premier League since the 2005-06 season.
Fulham possible XI: Areola, Tete, Adarabioyo, Andersen, Aina, Decordova-Reid, Lemina, Reed, Lookman, Maja, Cavaleiro.
Man City possible XI: Ederson, Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling.