Manchester City - Fulham Preview: Mancini's men look to close gap at the summit of the Premier League
The champions will be looking to apply pressure on title rivals Manchester United with a win over the Cottagers - a side struggling under Dutch manager Martin Jol
By Rhys Turrell
Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy
Nasri, Tevez, Silva
Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Richardson
Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Duff
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini will have captain Vincent Kompany available after the Belgium defender saw his red card from last Sunday's 2-0 win at Arsenal rescinded.
Samir Nasri is in contention after serving a three match ban for the dismissal he received at Norwich, whilst Argentina striker Sergio Aguero (hamstring) may return from the injury he picked up on New Year's Day.
Micah Richards and Maicon (both knee) are out, along with Jack Rodwell (hamstring).
Fulham will include Dimitar Berbatov for the trip to the Etihad, after the Bulgaria striker was rested for the narrow FA Cup win over Blackpool on Tuesday.
Bryan Ruiz and Steve Sidwell (both hamstring) are also available.
Simon Davies (hip), Kerim Frei (groin) and Mahamadou Diarra (knee) are all out.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Manchester City have won 65 of the last 67 games when they have been leading by two goals - the others both ended in draws.
- City defender Pablo Zabaleta has made more tackles (67) than anyone else at the Etihad Stadium. He averages one every 22.5 minutes.
- The reigning Premier League champions are averaging 1.12 points per goal in the top flight this season.
- Fulham have scored almost a quarter (23%) of their 31 Premier League goals this season in the final 10 minutes of matches.
- The Cottagers are in a bad spell of form - they have won just three of their last 16 matches in all competitions.
- Summer signing Dimitar Berbatov (pictured, right) is the club's leading goalscorer this season - he has seven goals to his name. He is 9/1 to score the first goal of the match with bet365.
- Chris Baird makes the joint-highest number of interceptions per game (3.6) in the Premier League.
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Top 3 Predictions
Manchester City 3-0 Fulham
- 15.07 %
Manchester City 3-1 Fulham
- 14.76 %
Manchester City 2-0 Fulham
- 9.52 %
|Premier League (EPL)||19 Jan 2013||Manchester City 2 - Fulham 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||29 Sep 2012||Fulham 1 - Manchester City 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||4 Feb 2012||Manchester City 3 - Fulham 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||18 Sep 2011||Fulham 2 - Manchester City 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||27 Feb 2011||Manchester City 1 - Fulham 1|
|19 May 2013||Manchester City 2 - Norwich City 3||EPL|
|14 May 2013||Reading 0 - Manchester City 2||EPL|
|11 May 2013||Manchester City 0 - Wigan Athletic 1||FA|
|7 May 2013||Manchester City 1 - West Bromwich Albion 0||EPL|
|4 May 2013||Swansea City 0 - Manchester City 0||EPL|
|Returns:||Manchester City £12.50||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Returns:||Draw £560.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Fulham £3510.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
The big Bosnia forward had been dubbed a 'super sub' thanks to his performances from the bench earlier on this season, but the former Wolfsburg man is so much more than that. His ability in the air is bettered by few, and he will give Hughes and Hangeland a torrid afternoon if he receives the right service. Sergio Aguero is on the path to a return to full fitness, and Mario Balotelli is still lurking around, so Dzeko may well be playing with his position in the side at stake, and that may prove ominous for the visitors.
If we assume that Dimitar Berbatov is the best player in this side, then it's well worth noting that Damien Duff is amongst the best workers. His tireless performances for the club may not earn his many headlines, but his experience and skill on the ball will ensure he will not be shown up by the stars in City's ranks. The Irish midfielder has had a distinguished Premier League campaign, and when he's on fire, he can still cause problems for even the best of defences. If Fulham are to nick a point at the Etihad, Duff will almost certainly be instrumental in it.
Manchester City's win at Arsenal last time out was highly impressive, and they'll need to put in performances of that authority every week if they want to retain their Premier League crown. They shouldn't need to get out of second gear against a Fulham side with an appalling away record over the years, and you'll be hard pushed to find anyone who see's past a routine home win for Roberto Mancini's men here.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed