Manchester City return to Premier League action on Saturday as they face Fulham at the Etihad Stadium, hoping to continue their recent strong form.
Pep Guardiola’s side have improved defensively of late, having kept six clean sheets in their past eight games in all competitions but they will need to improve offensively from their stalemate against Porto in midweek.
They face a Fulham side who will no doubt be buoyed by their 2-1 win against Leicester City last time out, so Guardiola should be careful not to underestimate the Cottagers.
Therefore, it seems likely that the Spanish manager will play a strong team on Saturday, especially as they have already secured top spot in their Champions League group, meaning next Wednesday’s game against Marseille is something of a dead rubber.
Here’s how Football FanCast expects Guardiola to line his side up against Fulham, with the Spanish manager making five changes from the side that faced Porto…
Ederson keeps his place in goal for the Citizens but Ruben Dias is the only man to keep his place in the defence, with Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy replacing Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko at full-back, whilst John Stones should be rewarded with a start after his recent impressive performances.
In midfield, Fernandinho is perhaps likely to drop to the bench, with Kevin De Bruyne restored to the line-up, albeit in a slightly deeper role, as Fulham will likely sit deep at the Etihad, meaning the Belgian can pick the ball up from City’s centre-backs and progress further forward with it.
Phil Foden should also keep his place after his superb recent displays whilst Riyad Mahrez should come back in after grabbing a hat-trick in City’s last home game against Burnley.
Guardiola was very complimentary of the 29-year-old Algerian earlier in the season, saying:
“Riyad is an exceptional player. For the quality, the passes and especially his mentality and he is aggressive to score goals.” (per Manchester City)
Meanwhile, Ferran Torres drops to the bench after an anonymous display against Porto, with Gabriel Jesus handed a starting spot after his promising cameo in Portugal.
Whilst Fulham certainly won’t be pushovers, this is a must-win game for City if they still hold title aspirations this season, so we should expect a strong line-up from Guardiola on Saturday afternoon.