Manchester City host Fulham at the Etihad this weekend in the hope of reducing the seven-point gap between themselves and league leaders Manchester United, who don’t play until Sunday afternoon’s difficult trip to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham.
Following a disappointing exit in Europe, retaining the Premier League title will be the minimum requirement for Roberto Mancini’s men and they really can’t afford to fall further behind a United side that have won all but four of their league games this term.
City head into this fixture on the back of three successive league victories, the last a 2-0 win away at Arsenal courtesy of strikes from James Milner and Edin Dzeko, with the latter also missing a penalty after being hauled down in the area by Laurent Koscielny, who was promptly dismissed by referee Mike Dean.
Captain Vincent Kompany also received his marching orders with 15 minutes of the match remaining following a tackle on Jack Wilshere, but that decision has since been overturned, allowing the defender to be available for selection against the Cottagers.
Mancini’s men are overwhelming favourites to secure a league double against their visitors at 11/50, with a share of the spoils at 5/1 and a shock result for Martin Jol’s men at a huge 11/1 in the bwin 3way football betting market.
The Citizens had to come from a goal down when the sides met at Craven Cottage back in September as strikes from Sergio Aguero and substitute Dzeko, who had only been on the pitch a matter of moments, proved enough to secure all three points late on for City.
Dzeko has been in fine form in recent weeks, scoring four goals in his last three league outings and leading the City goalscoring charts with ten for the season.
The Bosnian is currently getting a run of games following an injury to Aguero and with Fulham notoriously poor on the road, he looks a good bet at 3/1 to open the scoring or 13/20 to notch at any time.
New customers joining bwin.com can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on Dzeko to break the deadlock would return £80 if successful.
Goalscoring is certainly not an area City have been lacking in this season, with only United having managed to find the net more times, while Mancini’s men have the joint best defensive record alongside Chelsea, conceding just 19 goals in 22 matches.
Kompany and company have recorded nine clean sheets, five of those coming at the Etihad Stadium, which is a worrying statistic for the Cottagers, who have picked up just ten points from the last 36 available and sit in 13th position, six points above the drop zone.
City have an outstanding home record in the last couple of years, with their 3-2 defeat against United last month their first loss in the league on home soil since Everton produced a fine display to see off the Blues 2-1 back in December 2010.
Fulham certainly didn’t have ideal preparation for this match after they were forced into extra-time on Tuesday evening in their FA Cup third-round replay away at Blackpool, eventually emerging 2-1 winners against the Championship club.
Backing a City win to nil at 19/20, as was the case in this fixture last season when they ran out 3-0 victors, and a 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 home win at 8/5 in the multiple correct score market look great bets in what should end in a comfortable triumph for the hosts.
Top bet: Man City to win and keep a clean sheet @ 19/20