Hellbent on extending a perfect start to their Premier League title defence, Manchester City entertain Fulham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
With Pep Guardiola on the sidelines after undergoing a routine back surgery, caretaker boss Juanma Lillo oversaw a dramatic contest at Bramall Lane last weekend.
After missing a first-half penalty, Erling Braut Haaland put Man City in front against newly-promoted Sheffield United midway through the second half with a towering header.
However, United replied through Jayden Bogle in the 85th minute, throwing the Cityzens’ widely expected triumph in doubt, only for Rodri to seal a 2-1 win three minutes later.
As the only Premier League side to come into matchday four with a flawless record, Guardiola’s men are on the verge of meeting high expectations in our Man City season preview.
In contrast to City’s impressive league start, visiting Fulham have underperformed in the wake of a narrow 1-0 win at Everton on the opening weekend.
Without standout striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, Marco Silva’s men have gone winless in back-to-back top-flight outings, confirming our 2023/24 season suspicions that they could be in for a season-long mid-table struggle.
Brentford’s 3-0 win at Craven Cottage on matchday two left the Cottagers stunned, yet they eked out a 2-2 draw at title-bidding Arsenal last weekend despite being reduced to ten men.
Fulham received another confidence boost in midweek League Cup action, beating Tottenham Hotspur via penalties following an evenly-contested 1-1 draw on home turf.
Man City squeezed past Newcastle United 1-0 in their opening home game of the season, extending their intimidating winning streak at the Etihad to 18 games in all competitions.
That astounding run includes 11 consecutive Premier League victories, though it’s worth noting that three of their most recent home triumphs have yielded a single-goal margin.
A 2-1 win over Fulham in the corresponding fixture last term is part of Man City’s sublime spell of form at home, while it also marked their ninth consecutive H2H triumph as hosts.
Since each of those nine wins saw the Cityzens score multiple goals, Guardiola’s men may be setting their sights on an emphatic scoreline before signing off for the international break.
Before Joao Palhinha’s late strike at the Emirates Stadium handed Fulham an unexpected point last time out, none of their previous nine away league matches had ended level (W4, L5).
Those were mainly keenly-contested affairs, with seven of those nine games yielding a one-goal margin at full-time, indicating the Cottagers won’t go down without a fight.
Seeking their first away win against Man City since April 2009, Silva’s men take this trip on a disheartening 12-game winless run at the Etihad (D2, L10).
Fulham should still be confident about penetrating Guardiola’s steely backline after finding the back of the net on their last four Premier League travels.
It will take months before Man City fans receive another opportunity to enjoy Kevin De Bruyne’s magic in action again after the Belgian midfield dynamo picked up a long-term hamstring injury.
John Stones will keep the highest-paid Premier League star company on the sidelines with a muscle problem, while Manuel Akanji’s availability remains questionable due to illness.
Fulham will probably touch down in Manchester without Brazilian veteran Willian, though there’s a slight chance he could make the bench.
Manchester City potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Ederson; Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol; Rodri, Mateo Kovacic; Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, Jack Grealish; Erling Braut Haaland.
Fulham potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Bernd Leno; Kenny Tete, Tim Ream, Calvin Bassey, Antonee Robinson; Harrison Reed, Joao Palhinha; Harry Wilson, Andreas Pereira, Bobby De Cordova-Reid; Raul Jimenez.
We Say: Manchester City 3-1 Fulham
With Haaland firing on all cylinders, this should be another routine win for Man City.
After Mitrovic’s departure, Fulham’s attack has lost potency, but we still expect them to score a consolation goal.
- Sunderland confirm Watford clash will proceed despite power failure
- Cinch terminates SPFL sponsorship deal after Rangers refuse to display car branding
- Leeds defender Liam Cooper makes Scotland squad for Spain clash
- Brennan Johnson to miss Wales international games & Tottenham clash with Luton
- Chelsea defender Reece James handed one-match ban for improper conduct