Following an excellent away win last weekend, Man City will expect to secure another three points when they take on Fulham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (3pm GMT).
The Citizens are second in the Premier League table, seven points behind leaders Manchester United, but six points clear of Chelsea in third, with 48 points from 14 wins, six draws and two defeats.
United have a tough match away to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and City know they need to take full advantage every time their neighbours drop points if they are to have any chance of retaining their Premier League crown.
City prospered from their own trip to North London last weekend, recording a comfortable 2-0 win at Arsenal assisted by the sending off of home defender Laurent Koscielny just ten minutes into the match.
Edin Dzeko missed the resulting penalty, but made amends just past the half hour mark, tapping in City’s second after a sliding effort from Carlos Tevez (pictured) was parried into his path by the Arsenal goalkeeper. James Milner had earlier given the Citizens the lead, taking advantage of some lapse defending to fire in a powerful finish from inside the area.
City were comfortable for much of the match, with David Silva flourishing in the additional space afforded to him by their man advantage. It was a calm, controlled performance from Roberto Mancini’s men and one that signalled their intention to make a good fist of the title battle, despite their current points deficit.
The Citizens were themselves reduced to ten men fifteen minutes from time when Vincent Kompany was sent off for a challenge on Jack Wiltshire, but, thankfully for Mancini, have been spared the absence of their captain for three matches as the decision was later overturned by a FA Disciplinary Panel.
Kompany would have been badly missed in light of City’s other absentees, which include injured defenders Maicon and Micah Richards, midfielder Jack Rodwell, and the Toure brothers, Kolo and Yaya, who are both away on Africa Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast. Sergio Aguero could return from a hamstring injury in time for Saturday’s match.
Fulham boss Martin Jol has a similarly long list of unavailable players ahead of his side’s visit to the Etihad, with Karim Frei, Steve Sidwell and Mahamadou Diarra joining long-term absentee Simon Davies on the sidelines.
The Dutchman does, however, expect to be able to call on the services of forward Bryan Ruiz, who was rested during Fulham’s FA Cup Third Round replay win away to Blackpool on Tuesday to help aid his recovery from a hamstring problem.
Ruiz has been one of Fulham’s most influential players so far this season, despite only appearing in 13 of the club’s 22 matches due to a variety of fitness concerns. He has provided a team-high six assists to date, and has formed a superb understanding with the urbane Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham’s top scorer with seven goals.
The pair have produced some sparkling football when paired together, but their alliance has often been insufficient to paper over the cracks of a Fulham side whose defensive instability currently sees them stationed in the bottom half of the table with 25 points from six wins, seven draws and nine defeats.
The Cottagers have conceded 38 goals to date, the sixth-worst record in the division. Their defensive deficiencies have often cost them points even when the offensive portion of the team has performed well, such as in the 3-3 draws away to Arsenal and Reading.
Fulham have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 Premier League matches, which has coincided with a tally of just two victories over the same period.
Swift improvement is required if they are to avoid being dragged closer towards the relegation zone and Jol has made it clear that he hopes to bring in a couple of new recruits before the end of the month, with a midfield enforcer high on his list of priorities.
Man City v Fulham Betting Tips
Buoyed by their victory away to Arsenal last weekend, City will be determined to maintain their challenge to neighbours United at the top of the table with another three points on Saturday.
The Citizens have won eight of their 11 home matches and have won their last three without conceding a single goal. Up against a Fulham side who have lost three of their last five away matches, and who were comprehensively beaten 3-0 at the Etihad last season, a comfortable home victory seems the most likely outcome.
- Back Man City -1.5 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 8/11 with Pinnacle.
- Fulham have often made things difficult for themselves on their travels, conceding 13 first half goals in their 11 away matches to date, and trailing at half-time in six of them. City, on the other hand, have led at half-time in six of their 11 home matches to date, leading us to suggest also backing Man City on a half time/full time double @ 8/11 with BetVictor, Coral, or SkyBet.