Manchester City will look to put further pressure on Liverpool as they travel to Fulham for the first game of this Premier League round.
The Blues currently trail Jurgen Klopp’s side by one point, after missing a game due to the Emirates FA Cup quarter-finals last time around.
Fulham currently sit second from bottom and will need a miracle, starting this weekend in order to have any chance of survival.
Guardiola’s defensive issues
Throughout the whole of the campaign, City have struggled massively with injuries. Recent weeks have seen the Citizens struggle in defence, with numerous first-team regulars out injured.
Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Benjamin Mendy are all set to miss the trip to Craven Cottage, whilst Fabian Delph and Claudio Bravo are also ruled out.
Scott Parker’s men have also had problems at the back this season, however, these issues are due to quality, rather than injuries.
Alfie Mawson and Marcus Bettinelli will miss the visit of the champions, whilst Andre Schurrle will be in contention to start having missed the past few games through illness.
Fulham predicted XI: Rico; Fosu-Mensah, Ream, Chambers, Bryan; Seri, Anguissa, Cairney; Babel, Sessegnon, Mitrovic.
Man City predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gundogan, B. Silva, D. Silva; Sterling, Sane, Aguero.
There is no doubting that during this Premier League season, Fulham have looked ill-prepared, weak, and lacking quality throughout.
The Lilywhites have tallied an abysmal three points from their last 11, however, in recent weeks there are a few signs they could be improving.
Fulham’s last two home games have seen Chelsea and Liverpool visit, and on both occasions the seemingly relegation-doomed side have looked promising, only losing by a goal on each occasion.
This improvement will bring confidence to the players, as well as leaving Pep Guardiola well aware that his side will have to be at their best in order to guarantee the crucial three points in their title challenge.
This being said, City have been relentless across all competition this season, as they look to hunt down the elusive quadrouple.
Guardiola’s men have won all of their last five, scoring 15 in this time, making them strong favourites going into this one.
Head to head
This will be the third time that the two sides have faced each other this season, with City coming out victors in both of the previous two encounters, both in the league and Carabao Cup.
This will be the first time that Fulham will host the champions this season, possibly granting them more hope than on the previous two occasions.
Whilst dominating this fixture this season, City also hold a strong advantage over Parker’s men in their all-time record – winning 32 times and losing just 17.
Fulham last overturned City back in 2009, although could fancy their chances of ending this run more than usual due to City’s weakened defence, in a game that seems a 'must-win’ for both sides at either end of the table.