How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Fulham in Premier League Encounter

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIMarch 20, 2014

Kompany's tug of Jelavic ruled him out of the upcoming Fulham tilt.
Kompany's tug of Jelavic ruled him out of the upcoming Fulham tilt.Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Manchester City's league record against the best teams in the Premier League is excellent, with the crucial exception of their record against league-leading Chelsea.

City dropped both the home and away league matches against the Blues, who now lead City by those six points in the table.

As abject as City were against Chelsea, though, they have been that good against the other league contenders. City have thus far won or tied all of their matches against the other seven sides in the top nine places in the table (excluding City and Chelsea, naturally).

That record includes doubles against Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United and a lone draw against Southampton.

Moreover, several of those results were lopsided beatings, notably including scores like 4-1 over Manchester United, 6-0 over Tottenham Hotspur, and 6-3 over Arsenal.

Unfortunately, City's record against the worst sides in the Premier League is quite poor. Two of City's five league losses came against two of the three sides presently set to be relegated (Sunderland and Cardiff City).

City will also have to make do without Aguero against Fulham.
City will also have to make do without Aguero against Fulham.Scott Heppell/Associated Press

In a related story, City host the third relegation-zone dweller (Fulham) in their next Premier League match.

City claimed an uneven and nervy 4-2 decision at Craven Cottage back in December. Since then, City's fortunes have surged while Fulham's have cratered.

The Cottagers won their most recent league match over Newcastle United, but as the match report noted, it was their "first Premier League win since January 14 against Norwich, following two points in the intervening eight games." Fulham is on their third manager of the season in Felix Magath.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini surely wishes he had the luxury of giving some of his second string a run against Fulham. Unfortunately, because of the earlier setbacks to the likes of Sunderland and Cardiff City, Pellegrini cannot even think about taking any risks with his XI against Fulham.

City need these three points desperately. Besides, Pellegrini will already be without perhaps his two best players for this match.

Vincent Kompany's straight red card against Hull City means he is suspended for the Fulham match. Sergio Aguero remains unavailable due to the hamstring problem he aggravated against Barcelona, per Andy Hampson of the Independent.

So while it is not an intentionally weakened City side who will face Fulham, there are at least two areas of significant concern for Pellegrini.

City's projected XI against Fulham at the Etihad: Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy; Samir Nasri, David Silva, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas; Edin Dzeko.