Fulham vs Manchester City: Citizens can seal narrow success

Table-toppers Manchester City can extend their advantage at the top of the Premier League to 17 points when they visit Fulham on Saturday. Mark O'Haire shares his best bet...

Fulham earn vital victory

Fulham boss Scott Parker said there was "a lot of emotion" after his Cottagers charges secured a crucial and memorable 1-0 win at Anfield to give their survival hopes a huge boost last week. Mario Lemina's goal on the stroke of half-time, after the Gabon midfielder had dispossessed Mohamed Salah, proved decisive enough as the visitors earned top honours.

Victory saw Fulham draw level on points with 17th-placed Brighton with Parker admitting post-match, "It's a big win. There's a lot of emotion and I am very proud. I am happy for the players and the team because they got nothing short of what they deserved. There was a resilience and real attitude to keep the ball out of the net and defend."

As recently as mid-February the Cottagers were 10 points from safety, but this result will give the Whites huge belief for the final 10 games of the season. It was a performance full of character and spirit, characterised by Joachim Andersen's late clearance - the Fulham skipper saving his side with Sadio Mane poised to turn home Andy Robertson's centre.

Man City see off Saints

Manchester City returned to winning ways in style with a thumping Wednesday night win over Southampton that moved the Citizens 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League table. Riyad Mahrez and Kevin de Bruyne both scored twice as City delivered an emphatic and instant response to their defeat in last weekend's Manchester derby at The Etihad.

The 5-2 midweek triumph was not the disciplined display typical of many of City's victories this season but their incisive attacking, aided by some helter-skelter Saints defending, meant Pep Guardiola's group still ended up convincing winners. Man City now know six more league wins will make them mathematically sure of their third title in four seasons.

Guardiola made five changes following the derby defeat with Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden coming into the team. Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Rodri, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus all made way, and further alterations are expected here with the Citizens returning to Champions League duty on Tuesday night.

Difficult to oppose league leaders

Fulham are winless in their last 13 Premier League games against Man City (W0-D3-L10) and boast a wretched return of only four triumphs in 27 top-flight meetings going back further. The Cottagers have lost the last eight league meetings with the Citizens by an aggregate score of 23-3 and have W1-D5-L7 in their most recent 13 home league games here.

Fulham 11.50 have won three of their last six Premier League games (W3-D2-L1), more than they had in their previous 24 in (W2-D9-L13). The Cottagers have also kept five clean sheets in their last seven league outings, one more than in their first 21 this term. However, the hosts have scored a league-low eight home goals in the Premier League this season.

Manchester City 1.37 have won their last seven Premier League away games by an aggregate score of 19-3. Indeed, the Citizens have lost just once on the road in the Premier League all season (W9-D3-L1) and head to the capital with a formidable W16-D3-L0 return when taking on teams in eighth and below, shipping just eight goals in those 19 matches.

City to seal narrow success

Fulham's aforementioned poor home goals return is matched by the Cottagers' reasonable defensive efforts. The Whites have shipped just 18 goals as hosts, with Craven Cottage being the lowest scoring ground in the Premier League in 2020-21 (1.86 goals per-game). Only two of Scott Parker's side's last 18 league fixtures have featured Over 3.5 Goals 3.00.

Man City haven't proven quite so impenetrable over the past fortnight but remain tough to open up, particularly on their travels. With Fulham's pragmatic approach also lending itself towards a lower-scoring game than the outright odds potential anticipate, supporting the Citizens alongside Under 3.5 Goals holds plenty of appeal around the 1.88.

Twelve of Fulham's 13 match-ups with top-eight clubs have fallen below the 3.5 goals line this term.

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