Manchester City will continue their push for the quadruple this season when they take on Fulham in Saturday’s early kickoff.
The pressure is on Manchester City as they look to compete on four fronts and secure more trophies under Pep Guardiola.
Ensuring back to back titles is among their chief priorities and with Liverpool not playing until Sunday, they have a chance to put the pressure on their rivals with a win at Craven Cottage.
Not that Fulham will be making things easy. Scott Parker’s side look destined for the drop, they are currently 13 points from safety, but that is not a mathematical certainty at this point.
A surprise win over City, or even a point, could be the catalyst they need to go on a late bid for survival.
Injuries to centre backs have been the theme for Guardiola lately, and he faces something of a defensive crisis for this game.
Nicolas Otamendi pulled out of the Argentina squad during the international break while Vincent Kompany is also nursing a muscular problem.
That leaves Aymeric Laporte as Guardiola’s only fit centre back, with John Stones yet to return to full fitness following his own injury problems. He returned to training on Wednesday and may be risked for this game give City’s lack of options.
Fernandinho, Kevin de Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy all returned in midweek as well, but it remains to be seen which, if any, of that three feature.
Fulham continue to be without Alfie Mawson. He has a knock that he is yet to recover from. Likewise, Marcus Bettinelli will miss out with a knee injury.
On-loan Andre Schurrle faces a late fitness test himself after missing the past five games with a virus.
What the managers said
Talk of the quadruple is rife at Manchester City, but Guardiola insisted before the international break that he won’t start thinking about it until April.
“Ask me at the end of April [about quadruple], and I will answer you,” Guardiola said.
“I want to congratulate the players and staff for being here at this stage, I am already satisfied.
“I know for the people it will be a big failure if we don’t win three or four titles, so I’m sorry. Now we are going to fight every game after the international break.”
Scott Parker, meanwhile, was looking at the positives from his losing start as caretaker boss.
“Manchester City are a fantastic team with a manager who will go down as one of the greatest. But we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
“For all the big positives that have come from the last few matches, the points haven’t been there, but it’s been fine margins in all of the games.”
The omens are not good for Fulham this weekend. They’ve lost 25 of their last 26 games against the top six sides.
Manchester City have won the last six meetings between these two sides and scored without with reply in the previous three.
In fact, the last time this game ended in a win for Fulham was almost a decade ago.
Even worse for Fulham, City have scored in all of their last 23 games against the Cottagers.
In fact, this is a meeting between sides at the opposite end of the form table. City have the best record over the last ten games and Fulham have the worst.