Pep also talks. “In this division we are second. You select thinking about the next game, you forget what you have to do today. I am pretty sure against Cardiff we are going to make some changes. The schedule and fixtures we have this month, we have a lot of games, so everybody must be involved.”
Scott Parker explains the absence of his main man Aleksandar Mitrović. “Mitro has been struggling with a slight problem for the last couple of weeks. He’s come back from international duty and he’s not ready to play today. So we’re looking to get him some treatment.”
Fulham make three changes to the team named for the narrow loss to Liverpool a fortnight ago. Cyrus Christie, Maxime Le Marchand and Ryan Sessegnon come in for Tim Ream, Jean Seri and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Manchester City name four changes to the side selected for the narrow victory at Swansea City in the FA Cup a couple of weeks back. Alexander Zinchenko, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling replace Fabian Delph, Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Fosu-Mensah, Chambers, Christie, Bryan, Cairney, Le Marchand, Zambo, Ayite, Ryan Sessegnon, Babel.
Subs: Odoi, McDonald, Kebano, Schurrle, Vietto, Ramirez, Steven Sessegnon.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Silva, Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling.
Subs: Danilo, Stones, Sane, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Muric.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).
It’s difficult to see anything other than a Manchester City victory here. There’s probably no need to hammer home the point, but let’s get the mallet out anyway and rat-a-tat-tat.
City are the reigning English champions, with the destination of this year’s title in their own hands. Fulham are in 19th place in the Premier League, 13 points and 17 goals from safety.
City have won 11 of their last 12 matches, and the one they didn’t win ended in a penalty shootout and their lifting the first major silverware of the season. Fulham have lost their last seven on the bounce, and 11 of their last 12.
City have scored 79 goals in the league so far. Fulham have let in 70.
City have won their last seven fixtures against Fulham to an aggregate score of 21-3. Fulham haven’t beaten City for ten years, give or take a couple of weeks.
City are 8-1 on to win this match with your local turf accountant. Fulham you can get at 20s, and they’re 10s to scrape a draw.
But this is football, so there’s always hope! And here it comes: they’ve recently put up a good show here at Craven Cottage under interim boss Scott Parker against both Chelsea and Liverpool.
Well, OK, it’s not much. But from little acorns, etc. So will City register the easy win that’d take them back to the top of the Premier League, one point ahead of Liverpool? Will they rattle in a few to help the old goal difference, already six to the good over the current leaders? Or will Fulham pull off one of the shocks of the season, giving their faint hopes of survival an unlikely boost and scuppering City’s title charge? One suspects it’ll either be a goalfest or something very dramatic indeed. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.