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Premier League Preview: Fulham - Manchester City

Kickoff: Sunday 21 March, 15:00 GMT
Craven Cottage, Fulham

After recording perhaps the biggest win in the club’s history on Thursday, Fulham must be currently riding the crest of a wave. The transformation of the club under Roy Hodgson has been remarkable, and a 4-1 victory over Juventus - capped by a magnificent chip from Clint Dempsey - means the European adventure rolls on.

However, Thursday’s goalfest is in stark contrast to Fulham’s current Premier League scoring form. The Cottagers have drawn blanks in their last two outings and played out a goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup, but Hodgson will be hoping strikes from Zoltan Gera, Dempsey and his talisman Bobby Zamora in Europe will stand them in good stead to find their shooting boots in domestic competition; they will almost certainly need them against Manchester City on Sunday.

The blue side of Manchester kept their top four ambitions alive on Sunday as they salvaged a point against Sunderland, thanks to a stoppage time goal from second half substitute Adam Johnson. City had dominated in the second half, but Roberto Mancini’s side were kept frustratingly at bay, until Johnson – a reported Sunderland fan – wrapped his magic wand of a left foot around the ball to secure a much-needed point.

A point against the Black Cats, who have struggled of late, may not be entirely convincing from a club with designs on Champions League football, but Mancini will feel his club are still in the driving seat as they race for fourth place. With a game in hand on Tottenham Hotspur and only two points between them, it is City’s to lose, but a win over Fulham is essential.

FORM GUIDE

Fulham


Fulham 4-1 Juventus (Europa League)
Man Utd 3-0 Fulham (Prem)
Juventus 3-1 Fulham (Europa League)
Fulham 0-0 Tottenham (FA Cup)
Sunderland 0-0 Fulham (Prem)

Man City

Sunderland 1-1 Man City (Prem)
Chelsea 2-4 Man City (Prem)
Stoke City 3-1 Man City AET (FA Cup)
Man City 0-0 Liverpool (Prem)
Stoke City 1-1 Man City (Prem)

TEAM NEWS

Fulham

Dickson Etuhu is a doubt for Fulham after midweek action, while David Elm has picked up a bug and is also unlikely to feature. Cottagers fans will see the welcome return of Danny Murphy and Jonathan Greening, who were suspended for the Juventus tie, but Andrew Johnson and John Pantsil are both long-term casualties with knee problems. Nicky Shorey and Stefano Okaka are both available after being cup-tied in the Europa League.

Possible Starting XI: Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Shorey; Duff, Murphy, Greening, Dempsey; Gera, Zamora.

Man City

There are three major absences from Roberto Mancini's squad; Emmanuel Adebayor is serving a suspension, Wayne Bridge has a hernia problem and Martin Petrov has taken a knock to his knee. Javier Garrido is likely to step in for Bridge, but there is still no sign of Michael Johnson, who has been missing for much of this season.

Possible Starting XI: Given; Richards, Toure, Zabaleta, Garrido; De Jong, Kompany, Barry, Wright-Phillips; Bellamy, Tevez.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fulham


The Cottagers' stellar performance on Thursday was littered with fine performances, none more than that of Bobby Zamora. The striker returned to scoring form and proved a handful for the Juventus defence in front of England manager Fabio Capello. Another strong performance would do his national team credentials no harm.

Man City

With 15 strikes in the league to his name, and a grand total of 21 in all competitions, Carlos Tevez stands head and shoulders above the rest of the City strikers this season. The Argentinean drew a blank against Sunderland last Sunday but, in the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor, it is important the striker replicates the form that saw him score a brace against Chelsea three weeks ago.

PREDICTION

Roy Hodgson will fear the fixture load will be piling up on his Fulham charges, but thus far they have proved difficult to beat even after Europa League games. Manchester City were held by Sunderland on Sunday, and a similar result at Craven Cottage is a distinct possibility.

Fulham 1-1 Manchester City