Manchester City host Fulham on Saturday afternoon in a meeting between the reigning champions of England’s top two tiers.
Pep Guardiola’s side have spent much of the season trailing Arsenal in their pursuit of a third consecutive Premier League title but would go top – for at least one night – with a victory on Saturday.
Fulham, unlike recent Premier League iterations of the Cottagers, have begun post-promotion life strongly, sitting in the lofty reaches of seventh with a third of the campaign elapsed.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming meeting between these high-flyers.
Man City: 5 Wins
Fulham: 0 Wins
Man City: DLWDW
Guardiola was optimistic both Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips would be available by the time Gareth Southgate names his England squad though neither is expected to be thrust into action for their club this weekend.
Erling Haaland wasn’t risked for City’s Champions League dead rubber against Sevilla in midweek while he recovers from ligament damage to his foot. However, Guardiola revealed that the condition of the league’s top scorer is improving each day, offering: “Hopefully we have him against Fulham.”
Man City Starting 11 (4-3-3): Ederson; Stones, Akanji, Dias, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo; Foden, Haaland, Grealish.
Bench: Ortega, Laporte, Ake, Gomez, Mahrez, Lewis, Wilson-Esbrand, Alvarez, Gundogan.
This weekend, Bobby Decordova-Reid will become the second Fulham player to serve a suspension for an accumulation of five yellow cards this season. Long-term injury absentee Manor Solomon is set to join the Jamaica international on the sidelines while Layvin Kurzawa is a doubt with a calf strain.
Fulham Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, Diop, Ream, Robinson; Reed, Palhinha; Kebano, Pereira, Willian; Mitrovic.
Bench: Rodak, Tosin, Duffy, Wilson, Cairney, James, Vinicius, Harris, Onomah.
Fulham were described as the Manchester City of the Championship last season given their focus on possession and positional rotation. Marco Silva has dramatically changed tack in a bid to prevent the second half of Fulham’s familiar yo-yo trajectory, forging a side which excels at transitions and set pieces, two perceived weaknesses of Guardiola’s fined-tuned collective.
However, for all of their alterations and improvements, the task of toppling City in front of their own fans is a thoroughly daunting one for a Fulham side that has lost its last 12 matches against the Sky Blues across all competitions.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Fulham