After the mid-winter break, Manchester City return to action on Saturday when they host Fulham at the Etihad Stadium in a fourth-round FA Cup tie.
The Sky Blues have not quite been as successful in this competition as they have been in the Carabao Cup in recent years and Pep will also be keen to make up for the early League Cup exit this season.
Meanwhile, Fulham are leading the Championship table by five points having won four out of their last five league games. They are in a good run of form at the moment and will eye an upset at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City vs Fulham—Team News
Ederson and Gabriel Jesus were not spotted in training on Wednesday as they remained on international duty with Brazil in South America. Cole Palmer was also not seen in training, however, there remains a possibility that the academy kid was simply not captured by club cameras.
Zack Steffen is Manchester City’s cup goalkeeper and should start against Fulham. In front of Steffen, a back four of Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Oleksandr Zinchenko could start. Ake and Zinchenko need minutes under their belt and the cup tie against the Cottagers would be the perfect opportunity to provide them with game time.
In midfield, Fernandinho will be tasked to mop things up and keep Manchester City moving. Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva could start alongside the veteran Brazilian in the engine room.
Jack Grealish hasn’t really set the world alight following his big-money move from Aston Villa last summer. He needs a run of games to get back his confidence and the cup game against Fulham could be ideal for the English playmaker to start. Riyad Mahrez might start on the right flank, with Phil Foden operating as a false 9 for the home side.
Kenny Tete missed Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool with a groin injury and is unavailable to face Man City. But Harry Wilson and Aleksandar Mitrovic returned to the squad after missing the Stoke City game and played the full 90 minutes against Blackpool.
Neco Williams arrived at Fulham on loan from Liverpool on the January transfer deadline day and was spotted training with his new teammates on Tuesday.
Paulo Gazzaniga is likely to start in goal against Man City at the Etihad Stadium. Protecting Gazzaniga’s goal will be a back four of Dennis Odoi, Tosin Adarabioyo, Michael Hector and Joe Bryan. The Cottagers’ backline will have their task cut out against a well-oiled City attack at the weekend.
Harrison Reed and Tom Cairney’s main job will be shielding the back four. The central midfield duo is likely to enjoy very little possession, so manager Marco Silva will expect them to do their basics right and keep things ticking over.
Fabio Carvalho will act as the glue between the midfield and attack, providing creativity to Silva’s side. Neeskens Kebano and Harry Wilson will start on either flank, with Aleksandar Mitrovic spearheading the Cottagers attack.
Manchester City vs Fulham—Predicted Lineups
Manchester City Predicted Lineup (4-3-3): Zack Steffen; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva; Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez
Fulham Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1): Paulo Gazzaniga; Dennis Odoi, Tosin Adarabioyo, Michael Hector, Joe Bryan; Harrison Reed, Tom Cairney; Harry Wilson, Fabio Carvalho, Neeskens Kebano; Aleksandar Mitrovic
Manchester City vs Fulham—Key Players
Manchester City—Bernardo Silva
Bernardo Silva has been Man City’s best player this season. He has been breathtaking to watch and the Portuguese playmaker will look to continue his rich vein of form at the weekend. If selected, Silva will be a key player the Fulham side must look to stop.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is Fulham’s top scorer with 28 league goals. The bulky Serb has proven to be a menace for Championship defenders this term and will hold the Cottagers’ key in upsetting the Sky Blues in the FA Cup fourth round.
Prediction: Manchester City 4-1 Fulham