Manchester City welcome new boy Fulham back to the Etihad Stadium as they face the Cottagers in their penultimate league game before the World Cup. City face Chelsea in midweek and Brentford next weekend before the Qatar World Cup kicks off, and the blues will be hoping to go into the extended international break at the top of the Premier League.
The blues are keeping pace with Arsenal and are just two points behind the Gunners, with City’s win at Leicester keeping them within touching distance at the top.
Fulham won promotion last season and will be hoping for a longer stay in the Premier League this time around. They have bounced between the top two divisions for the last few years and the fans will be hoping for a bit of stability this time around. If the early season form is anything to go by, they should be looking forward to a top half finish.
Despite losing four of the first 13 matches, Fulham have won five and drawn four, which has sent them 7th in the table. For perspective, that’s a place in the Europa Conference League for next season, not a bad incentive for the new boys.
Fulham are currently unbeaten in four matches, having won and drawn two. Their last outing saw them held 0-0 at home to Everton after they beat Leeds 3-2 at Elland Road and Aston Villa 3-0 at Craven Cottage. Their other point in October was a 2-2 home draw with fellow newcomers Bournemouth.
Prior to those matches, Fulham lost 3-1 at West Ham and 4-1 at home to Newcastle. From the so called ‘top six,’ Fulham have lost at Arsenal and Spurs (both 2-1) and drawn 2-2 at home with Liverpool on the opening day.
The Cottagers are quite prolific in front of goal. They are the sixth top scorers in the Premier League with 22 and have scored more than their fellow promoted sides put together. Defensively, Fulham have problems. They have conceded 22 and are the only team in the Premier League to have zero goal difference and have the third joint worst defence in the league. Only relegation zone clubs Leicester (25) Nottingham Forest and mid-table Bournemouth (28) Bournemouth have worse defences, while Brentford have conceded the same amount.
Ones to watch
Aleksandar Mitrovic is Fulham’s top scorer with nine goals so far this season. From 12 matches, he has hit 45 shots, the highest in the Fulham side, and has a goal conversion rate of 20%. His shot accuracy is only 49%, quite low for a top scorer. City will have to be wary of Mitrovic - four of his goals have come against the Premier League’s ‘top sides,’ scoring both against Liverpool and getting Fulham’s goals in their defeats at Arsenal and Spurs.
Bobby De Cordova-Reid has hit three so far. He has a slightly higher conversion rate at 25% and 50% shot accuracy. However, Issa Diop has a 100% shot accuracy and goal conversion rate. Thankfully, he has only attempted one shot in seven matches, but he still scored it, which technically makes him Fulham’s most lethal striker.
If City want to stop Fulham’s creators, then Andreas Pereira will be high on their list. Pereira has four assists so far from the 30 chances he has created, the highest in the side. Strangely enough, he isn’t Fulham’s top passer of the ball. With a 69% pass accuracy, his is the lowest in the team. The highest belongs to former Chelsea and Arsenal star Willian. From 176 passes attempted, 152 have been converted, giving him a pass accuracy of 82% from 12 matches. However, he only has one assist to his name from 12 chances created.
City will also need to be aware of Kenny Tete, Neeskens Kebano and Harrison Reed. Tete and Kebano have three assists each, while Reed has attempted the most passes with 406, with 305 being completed.
Who’s the boss?
Former Watford and Everton boss Marco Silva is in charge at Craven Cottage. He joined the club in July 2021 and lead the team to promotion the following season. During that promotion year, Fulham hit 106 goals, just two short of City’s record of 108 in the 2001/02 season under Kevin Keegan.
Silva has a decent win ratio. From 64 matches, Silva’s Fulham have won 34 and lost 16, giving him a win ratio of 53%.