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A look ahead to Fulham


When Sky selected City's trip to Craven Cottage for live TV coverage they were surely anticipating plenty of sub plots with Roberto Mancini bringing his side to the home of the man he replaced, Mark Hughes. However, they could have only dreamed of Mancini making the trip south under pressure following two successive goalless draws and the fans' boos ringing in his ears.

As we return to league action focus will inevitably switch back to City, and more specifically, Mancini. With his side drawing a blank the past two games (and his admission that only Carlos Tevez currently looks like scoring) it seems that at present he will need to continually pull out results like that achieved at West Brom to keep the knives at bay.

Adam Johnson was recalled to the side for the Birmingham game, and it will be interesting to see if he persists with the more attacking option or reverts to Gareth Barry, with James Milner moving back out wide. Elsewhere, with Mario Balotelli serving the final game of his suspension, there appears little doubt over the team selection and formation, with only Joe Hart's back injury maybe forcing a change.

It is a much changed side that Hughes will face though, with potentially only four players from the side he left behind starting, illustrating the sweeping changes Mancini has made to the side since taking over following Hughes's sacking with several of Hughes's signings and favourites on the outside looking in as Mancini's stamp has very much been put on the side.

Under Hughes, Fulham have had a mixed start. Unbeaten early on, they have still been defeated only three times in eleven games yet have won just two. Eight draws from eleven games tells its own story and clearly this is an area Hughes needs to improve upon as Fulham hover just above the drop zone.

Craven Cottage, whilst always a nice ground to visit, is one that is not an easy place to get a result from and Fulham have suffered just one defeat at home. I posted a couple of days ago about the importance of the partnership between Kolo Toure and Vincent Kompany and they will be the platform for victory, although the likelihood is that Fulham's record of draws sees both sides sharing the spoils.