Fulham v Manchester City
Saturday, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports Premier League/Main Event
With the international break over, Manchester City find themselves at the business end of their remarkable quadruple bid.
If it is to be achieved, 15 games remain in their season - 13 of them in the next 44 days as Pep Guardiola's men face a two-matches-per-week schedule from now until the end of the Premier League campaign.
The first of those comes on Saturday lunchtime at a Fulham side looking doomed to relegation.

Pep's juggling act

Given the fixture list which awaits - in the immediate future it's Cardiff at home on Wednesday before an FA Cup semi-final with Brighton and a Champions League trip to Tottenham - this could well be a game for which Guardiola decides he doesn't need his first-choice XI.
It is arguably that juggling act which the manager will need to make which holds the key to success or failure. Judging who should be rested and when will be crucial in the coming weeks and perhaps could lead to the slip-up which lets in title rivals Liverpool, who currently lead the table by two points having played a game more. It should certainly be a consideration for those betting on this match.
The good news for Guardiola on the squad front is his injury problems appear to be abating.
Aymeric Laporte returned prior to the international window and now Kevin de BruyneFernandinhoJohn Stones and Benjamin Mendy are all back in training. Nicolas Otamendi is also OK despite having pulled out of the Argentina squad.
City have been ruthless against he league's lesser lights, having already won at Huddersfield (3-0), Cardiff (5-0) and Southampton (3-1). They've also won all four games against the bottom five that they've played at home, each by at least three clear goals.
It is also notable that the international breaks have failed to affect them, too. So far this season their first games after such a period have resulted in wins at home to Fulham (3-0) and Burnley (5-0) and away to West Ham (4-0). Last season they won four out of four, scoring 19 times in those matches.

Fulham case hard to make

There are few reasons for optimism for Fulham.
They've lost to all the other 'Big Six' members at home this season (and also away), conceding at least twice on each occasion. Overall, that has stretched their record against those clubs to 25 defeats in their last 26.
Five of their eight home defeats this season have been by two or more goals (they are just 4/7 to lose this one by a similar margin), although the other three came against strong opposition - Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs all scraping through 2-1.
It is this point which perhaps offers the greatest hope to Liverpool fans who will be hoping for an almighty favour.
Indeed, under caretaker-boss Scott Parker, Fulham have performed creditably at Craven Cottage against both Chelsea and Liverpool, albeit without actually managing to win a point.
For this one, they should have Andre Schurrle available again after his absence since early February due to a virus. In midfield, Tom Cairney has been playing well under Parker, while up front that have a striker in Aleksandar Mitrovic whose performances have surely ensured he'll be playing at this level against next season, even if Fulham are not.

Draw value?

Still, it's hard to make a serious case for Fulham, even at big prices.
They've been defensively poor all season and statistically their backline is the worst in the league. They've now conceded at least twice in their last 11 in the league and it's not exactly controversial to suggest City should be able to lengthen that stat.
The visitors are 1.14 to win the match and return to the top of the league for at least 24 hours, with Fulham out at 23.00.
The draw is 11.00, which given Fulham came within nine minutes of holding Liverpool last time out may have its backers.
Not me, though.

Be wary of goal glut

Neither, for all City's goal power, do I particularly want to get involved in the goals lines where over 3.5 is just 1.81. The under option can be backed at 2.16. City alone are just 6/4to score four or more.
The 2.5 goals line has overs at 1.32 and unders 3.70. Here it is worth a mention that 'only' 50% of City's away games have featured over 2.5 goals.
With those aforementioned fixtures to come, game management and saving legs could well come into play here and that could be a problem for punters requiring lots of goals.

Half way to go

I think it's less of an issue in another market, namely the 'to win both halves' one.
City have been defensively solid on the road, keeping a clean sheet more often than not, so it would be no surprise to see Fulham shut-out.
And as I've already said, City have been able to brush the stragglers aside. Their wins at Huddersfield and Cardiff saw both halves won and they've also done it at West Ham, Everton and Arsenal this season.
Their record of winning both halves is understandably not as strong away as it is at home (where they've now landed this bet in 16 of their 24 games this season in all competitions) but this market still looks the best way of finding a spot of value about City, who should be able to prove the gulf in class between these two sides.
They are an even-money shot here.

Same Game Multi

While it's hard to predict the City team, the anytime goalscorer market could be worth delving into to create a tastily-priced multi.
Neither Aymeric Laporte nor David Silva were on international duty last week so I'd expect them both to make the starting XI.
Laporte provides a clear aerial threat from set-plays and has scored four away goals in his 17 away games this season. City win the most corners in the league and Fulham concede the fourth most.
Silva has started all three post-international games, scoring in two of them.
With City expected to dominate, the double at 32 is worth a small play.

Opta fact

Fulham have conceded at least twice in each of their last 11 Premier League games, a record in the competition. The last top-flight side to concede more than once in more consecutive games were Newcastle between May-October 1977 (14 games).
1pt Man City to win both halves @ evens

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