Not many people will give Fulham a chance of picking up a result this weekend against Manchester City. This is despite the fact Fulham are ahead of Roberto Mancini’s side on the Premier League table and go into the game after back-to-back wins. Here are five ways that Fulham can beat Manchester City.
A Compact Defence
Other than the 3-0 away defeat to West Ham United and the 3-2 away defeat to Manchester United, Fulham have not leaked more than one goal in a game this season. Fulham have to keep a compact defence if they are going to deal with Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and the rest. The way they do this is by staying narrow when City have the ball in midfield and stay tight when City have the ball out wide so they can move together as a unit to soak up the pressure.
The Midfield Battle
The midfield battle is very important and Fulham have to make their presence known. Steve Sidwell has a big job to do in terms of getting stuck in. It’s worth him and one or two other Fulham players giving away a couple of fouls and risking a yellow card just to make City aware that it’s going to be very difficult for them to move the ball fluently in the middle of the pitch. If Fulham don’t make things scrappy then City are just going to create multiple chances until they score.
A Lethal Attack
Fulham need to be lethal and ruthless in attack. They may only get one or two brilliant chances to score in the entire match due to the dominance that City are likely to have in terms of possession. Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega are both very good finishers in and around the penalty area. With Berbatov injured it gives Petric a chance to come back into the team and stake a claim, and the man who was so impressive in pre-season will have a point to prove.
Brede Hangeland v Sergio Aguero
Last season and the season before saw Brede Hangeland produce some of his finest form in a Fulham shirt. There were rumours that Manchester United were trying to sign him and he needs to get back to his best if Fulham are going to win this match. Hangeland needs to be all over Aguero like a rash so that every time the ball is fed into the Argentine striker, he is met with an immense physical threat from the huge defender.
Manchester City will be happy to play the match narrow because they have the players to compete for the ball in the middle. Fulham need to utilise the wide areas and get Damien Duff on the ball regularly. City have looked vulnerable down the flanks this season. Scott Sinclair played in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal but he was easily contained as he was the only serious wide threat. If Fulham can force City into a narrow formation then they will have plenty of space to exploit.