CB: So, perhaps unsurprisingly, City start as favourites for this one. Have Fulham got any hope of causing an upset?
SC: I’m going to go for Fulham to pull off a surprise and get a draw, which is priced at 11/4. This would be unexpected as City have been on fire so far this season, scoring goals for fun, whereas this isn’t the case with Martin Jol’s side, who are still looking for their first win. However, the Cottagers have drawn six of their six matches so far and I’m going for another one in this clash.
JK: I really can’t see past an away win. City have a 100% record in the league this season, whereas Fulham are still getting to used to life under Jol. City will also have extra time to recover from their European exploits, and could face a weary outfit at Craven Cottage in the aftermath of Thursday night’s Europa League clash with FC Twente. Mancini’s men are unbeaten in the past five meetings between the sides too, and have significantly improved since their 4-1 triumph here last season.
CB: There’s plenty of attacking threat in both sides, so who will you be betting on to hit the back of the net?
JK: He didn’t seem up to much last year, but Edin Dzeko looks like one of the deadliest strikers in world football at the minute. He’s struck first in two of City’s four league outings this term, including a London away fixture, and there should be immense interest in the 5/1 for him to score first here. Sergio Aguero, at 9/2, is also great value, with six goals in just three Premier League starts thus far. I also think the 9/2 for Carlos Tevez to score the final goal of the game looks unmissable. What a player to be able to bring off the bench!
SC: While Fulham will be under the cosh at times, they are looking for that first league win and I believe they will start brightly, which is why Bobby Zamora could be a good bet at 8/1 to be the first goalscorer. He looked impressive in their draw with Blackburn and scored a good goal in that one.
CB: You said you reckon Fulham could sneak a draw, Sam. What scoreline would you recommend?
SC: Well, if you look at Fulham’s last 20 league games, 1-1 has been the most popular result. I’m going for a repeat at odds of 23/4.
JK: I actually think City will win this at a canter. With a side much improved from their victory in this fixture last season, they will be relishing the chance to achieve an equally impressive scoreline this time round. They have already decimated Champions League contenders Tottenham 5-1 in London this term, and mauled Wigan and Swansea 3-0 and 4-0 respectively. They have an embarrassment of riches from an attacking point of view, and they can make short work of a 2-0 handicap at 18/5, against a Fulham side that has scored only two goals all season.
CB: And taking the match in terms of first half versus second half, where would your money be?
SC: I think it will be a testing afternoon for City to see how they will cope after a European fixture in midweek. Yes, they have an extra day rest than Fulham and have the squad to rotate, but Fulham are more used to it from previous European campaigns. Fulham to be leading at half time at 11/2 could be a good small punt, with City coming out of the blocks slowly.
JK: City have taken the lead in all of their domestic fixtures this season and gone on to win each, failing to score in the first half only in their opener. I will be entertaining the 5/4 for Manchester City to lead at half-time and full-time. They led here 3-0 at half-time last season and ran out 4-1 winners in the end so a repeat wouldn’t be bad!
CB: Good stuff. Any final tips?
JK: We know that City like winning in style nowadays. Last term you may have seen them shut up shop as soon as they had the lead and throw on another defensive midfielder. Now though, Mancini is more likely to throw on an Adam Johnson or a Carlos Tevez to bolster the goal difference. Of the 15 goals they have notched in just four games, nine have come in the second half, and the 27/20 for them to hit the net in both halves here looks a solid bet.
SC: It looks certain that there will be over 2.5 goals at 4/5. This has been the case in four of the past five meetings between these two sides and I expect it to be no different on this occasion.
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