The Citizens left it late to beat Sheffield United 2-1 away from home last weekend, while the Cottagers admirably picked up a point in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in their last top-flight fixture.
When taking a quick glance at Man City’s dominant statistics against Sheffield United last weekend, boasting 80% possession and 30 attempts on goal, one would assume that the reigning champions came away from Bramall Lane with a comfortable victory.
Maximum points were secured, but the Citizens did it the hard way as Erling Haaland – who missed a first-half penalty – saw his second-half opener cancelled out in the 85th minute by Jayden Bogle, only for Champions League hero Rodri to respond three minutes later with a thunderous match-winner into the top corner to save City’s bacon.
Although manager Pep Guardiola – recovering from back surgery in Barcelona – watched on from afar, assistant coach Juanma Lillo insisted that the Catalan boss was “totally present” for his 200th Premier League victory – reaching that landmark in just 269 games to break an all-time English top-flight record.
Man City now sit pretty at the Premier League summit as the only top-flight team with a 100% record after three games this season, and they will fancy their chances of extending their winning streak on Saturday considering their impressive home form.
Indeed, the Citizens’ 1-0 victory against Newcastle United two weeks ago was their 17th consecutive win at the Etihad Stadium in all competitions, setting a new club record, and in this period they have scored a remarkable 55 goals while conceding only seven.
Man City have also won each of their last 14 meetings with Fulham in all tournaments; only the Citizens themselves have ever had a longer winning run against an opponent in English football history (15 versus Watford).
After suffering a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to Brentford, Fulham have since responded well by claiming two positive results against North London duo Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, drawing with the former in the Premier League before beating the latter in the EFL Cup.
The Cottagers were trailing 2-1 with 10 men heading into the final seven minutes of last Saturday’s league clash at the Emirates Stadium, but Joao Palhinha – who may have played his last game for the club amid reported interest from Bayern Munich – fired home an 87th-minute equaliser to snatch a point.
Marco Silva served a one-game touchline ban for the visit of Spurs in the EFL Cup second round on Tuesday, but he had plenty to smile about from the stands as his Fulham side secured a 5-3 victory on penalties following a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage, and they have been rewarded with a third-round draw at home to Norwich City.
Fulham will hope to head into the international break on a high with another positive result, but that could prove challenging as they have lost each of their last nine visits to the Etihad Stadium; not since a 3-1 win in April 2009 under former boss Roy Hodgson have Fulham picked up all three points on the blue side of Manchester.
The Cottagers put up a fight against Man City in both home and away fixtures last season, but they came out on the wrong side of 2-1 scorelines, with Erling Haaland netting a dramatic 95th-minute winner from the penalty spot to prevent Silva’s men from claiming a point in their last visit to the Etihad nine months ago.
Manchester City Premier League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Fulham Premier League form:
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We say: Manchester City 3-1 Fulham
Man City have not won each of their opening four Premier League games since 2016-17, but we believe that the Citizens will come away with maximum points on Saturday against a Fulham side whom they have had plenty of joy against over the years.
Fulham will hope to frustrate the hosts as Sheffield United did in stages last weekend and pose a threat on the counter-attack, but Guardiola’s side should ultimately have enough quality to break the Cottagers down and extend their impressive winning streak at the Etihad to 18 matches.