Man City vs Fulham: de Bruyne vs Palhinha & Other Key Battles To Watch Out For

Seeking to make it three Premier League wins on the bounce on Saturday afternoon, Manchester City welcome Fulham to the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s side are currently second in the Premier League standings, just two points behind league leaders Arsenal. They head into today’s fixture off the back of a 3-1 win over Sevilla in the Champions League.

Man City’s opponents, Fulham currently sit seventh in the table after earning promotion from the Championship as champions. They are on a four-game unbeaten run and should provide City with a stern test.

On that note, here are the key battles that could decide the outcome of this Premier League fixture at the Etihad Stadium.

#Erling Haaland vs Fulham centre-backs

Erling Haaland has been absent with a foot injury since coming off at the break against Borussia Dortmund last month, thus, missing the games against Leicester City and Sevilla. City’s medical staff will assess Haaland ahead of the kickoff, although Guardiola remains hopeful of having the Norwegian fit to lead his team’s attack against Fulham.

Having taken to the Premier League like a duck to water since arriving from Dortmund in the summer, Haaland has proven to be a menace for defenders and will be desperate to mark his return from injury with a goal.

Standing in Haaland’s way will be Fulham’s centre-backs—Tim Ream and Issa Diop. The defensive pairing of Ream and Diop has been solid for the Cottagers in recent weeks, but keeping Haaland quiet should be an almighty challenge.

Thus, it will be interesting to watch how the Fulham centre-backs deal with the Man City star.

#Kevin de Bruyne vs Joao Palhinha

Joao Palhinha has been brilliant for Fulham since arriving from Sporting CP in the summer, and he and Harrison Reed will have the considerable challenge of trying to stop Man City’s creative genius, Kevin de Bruyne.

De Bruyne, one of the world’s best players, is the architect of most City attacks. The Belgian playmaker has been in exceptional form this season, making him absolutely unplayable on his day. He will be on the lookout for spaces in and around the box to hurt Fulham.

This means Palhinha, expected to operate in Fulham’s midfield, will need to put in his best performance in the Premier League to shackle the threat of De Bruyne.

#Aleksandar Mitrovic vs Manuel Akanji

After playing a starring role in Fulham’s promotion party, Aleksandar Mitrovic has nine goals already in the Premier League this season as he sits only behind Haaland and Tottenham’s Harry Kane at the top of the goalscoring charts.

Mitrovic will carry the main threat for Fulham, hoping to link play well with his teammates in the final third and prove a real handful in City’s box. For City, Manuel Akanji has recovered from a dead leg and is in contention to start at the weekend.

Akanji has seamlessly slotted into City’s defence following his summer move from Dortmund, delivering a series of top displays already. Mitrovic’s aerial ability and hold-up play are among Fulham’s biggest strengths, so Akanji potentially faces a big test at the Etihad Stadium.

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