Manchester City aim to re-establish their 3-pont lead over Manchester United with a victory over stuttering Fulham. The London side have had a terrible time away from home, while City have a 100% record at Eastlands.
Roberto Mancini took full responsibility for the Citizens defeat against Everton and the pressure is on for him to get his side back to winning ways.
Meanwhile, Martin Jol has his own problems to deal with, the loss of Bobby Zamora a huge blow to their chances of a top 10 finish this season.
Roberto Mancini rued the Christmas period but remained positive ahead of the Fulham game, stating: “We knew December and January would be crucial months because we were losing important players to the African Nations Cup and could have players injure.
“I didn’t think we could have players banned for four games – but this can happen.
“I said if we are on the top after January we would win the title – but not without problems. It is not easy to beat United.
“It is important for us to stay on the top now for this difficult moment.
“If we are on top after this difficult moment, what has happened with us in January can probably happen to other teams. Every team has a difficult moment.’
Manchester City Team News:
The Touré brothers remain with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations while Mario Balotelli continues his suspension. The biggest loss Mancini will have to deal with is captain Vincent Kompany who misses out. This will come as a huge blow to the title front-runners.
Player to watch: Sergio Aguero
Aguero has been worth every penny, not only for his goal exploits, but for helping fans to forget Carlos Tevez with his tiresome displays. The fact that he works for the team is the key to his excellence.
Fulham Team News:
Dembélé, Sá and Schwarzer will all face late fitness tests, while Etuhu is also touch and go to face his former club. If unfit, they would be joining long term absentee Sidwell in the stands.
Player to watch: Clint Dempsey
The American is one of those players that you wonder why a bigger club hasnt snapped him up. He has a full arsenal in his locker and will prove troublesome for defenders if he can see enough of the ball. With Savic likely to be drafted back into City’s ailing defence, the striker might just relish the time and space being afforded to him and make this a day to remember.
Match Facts & Stats
Fulham are the only team in the league not to have conceded a penalty so far this season.
City have won their last 16 home fixtures since drawing 1-1 with Fulham at the Etihad Stadium 12 months ago.
This game looks inevitable on paper. Fulhams solitary away win versus City’s 11/11 home record speaks volumes. You can never discount any Premier League team based on stats but with the quality City have and the chance to go 3-points clear, you’d have to side with the Citizens. Manchester City 3-0 Fulham