Manchester City vs. Fulham Preview: Citizens eye successive wins against improving visitors
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Manchester City vs. Fulham Preview: Citizens eye successive wins against improving visitors

Match preview of Saturday afternoon's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Fulham at the Etihad Stadium

Neil Leverett

As the international break retreats for a month, domestic affairs resume this weekend in the Premier League, as Manchester City host Fulham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Pep Guardiola's side were far from convincing in their 2-1 win against Newcastle United last time out, and as the Cottagers roll into Manchester on the back of taking four points from a possible six - having scored six times into the bargain - the Citizens could be in for a tricky afternoon.

Having dropped points already as the hosts look to become the first top flight side in a decade to retain their league crown, a win is a must to keep the pressure up at the top of the standings.

City keen to hit form on resumption

As European gets under way this week, City will be eager to hit form as squads are readied to be stretched between now and the end of the month.

Despite demolishing Huddersfield Town 6-1, their draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on the road was a early fork in the road Guardiola's side failed to negotiate.

Kun Agüero looks sharper than ever, but the switches in formation could prove to become a headache which makes a settled system vital in the coming weeks.

Visitors on the rise

After a difficult start to life back in the top flight, the Cottagers have shown steady improvement in their last two outings and had it not been for a Glenn Murray brace at the AMEX Stadium last time out, Slavisa Jokanovic's side could have six points to their name.

The Cottagers' defense will likely cause them problems during the course of this season, but with Aleksandar Mitrovic firing - with four goals in as many games - the west Londoners look more than capable of retaining their Premier League status come May.

This weekend, the visitors can almost certainly bank on conceding, but with Luciano Vietto having hit the ground running and with Andre Schurrle no stranger to Guardiola from their respective Bundesliga meetings, Saturday could make for interesting viewing.

Hosts unbeaten since 2009

This weekend's clash will be the 25th time the two have met in the Premier League. Fulham have won just four times compared to their hosts (13) and the former have a rather unsightly record against City in recent years.

The visitors have not won in their last 11 league meetings, with City winning all of their last five in a row.

The last time Fulham won was last decade, when a Clint Dempsey brace inflicted a 3-1 defeat on City at the Etihad in April 2009.

Team news 

Raheem Sterling should be able for selection after missing the international break with a back injury, however defender Danilo will be assessed late on due to the Brazilian's ongoing ankle problems.

Kevin De Bruyne is still expected to miss the next two months at least with an LCL ligament injury, whilst Claudio Bravo is ruled out with an achilles injury.

For Fulham, Floyd Ayite is a doubt with a knock and a late decision will be made on the fitness of the winger.

Tom Cairney, Tim Ream and Neeskens Kebano however, are all ruled out due to foot, thigh and ankle issues.