18th January 2013
Having extended their winning run to three matches with the triumph at the Emirates, Manchester City will attempt to put extra pressure on title rivals United with a comfortable win over Fulham. The Cottagers have been showing some improvement of late and they hope to increase their advantage over relegation rivals by taking at least one point from the Etihad.
Even if disappointing defeat to Sunderland seemed to have ended City’s title hopes, Roberto Mancini’s side were determined not to give up and they managed to notch up several very good results of late. Impressive victories over Norwich and Stoke were followed by the 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates, with the Citizens thus making sure they stay as close to Manchester United as possible. With the Red Devils now facing a tricky tie against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, City could easily close the gap behind their title rivals, provided they beat Fulham at home. That shouldn’t prove to be a problem even if the Toure brothers are away on Africa Cup of Nations, especially given that captain Vincent Kompany has had his red card against Arsenal rescinded. Samir Nasri returns after serving a three-match ban, but Micah Richards, Douglas Maicon and Jack Rodwell remain on the sidelines.
This season has proved to be a major disappointment for Fulham, especially after the bright start to the league campaign hinted the Cottagers might even be able to enter the race for European places. Martin Jol’s decision to switch to more adventurous approach has seen Fulham one of the most entertaining sides in the elite division, but it has failed to produce expected results. The Cottagers have been conceding way too many goals this term, which clearly suggests the Dutch coach hasn’t quite managed to find the right balance in the side. Injuries to star players certainly didn’t help, but Fulham are, nevertheless, expected to improve on their current league position and finish the league campaign in the top half of the standings. The visitors will have Dimitar Berbatov back to the side after he was rested in midweek, while Bryan Ruiz and Steven Sidwell also return. Simon Davies, Mahamadou Diarra and Kerim Frei, however, are all out injured.
Manchester City appear to be on top of their game and they should have no problems winning this clash, but odds offered on home win are just too low to count. With Fulham scoring goals for fun on the travels this season, there is a good value in backing both teams to score.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 1/1
Bookmaker: Stan James