Goal feast or City blues?
On paper, a visit to the Etihad Stadium for bottom side Fulham holds as much appeal right now as a dip in Hudson Bay. Nobody is giving the Whites a prayer -- not surprising when you consider that just two City players between them have notched more goals than the entire Fulham team in the season to date.
- Pellegrini: Fulham is City's biggest game
There's little point in flying in the face of logic just to be controversial. The title contenders have lost a little of their gloss of late, proving vulnerable in both League and Cup to lesser lights, although their defence has not conceded since the 0-1 home loss to Chelsea. And they are without Sergio Aguero and suspended captain Vincent Kompany. But do Fulham have the game to actually win here? I don't think so.
City are showing no defeats to the Cottagers from the past nine meetings, so the task for manager Felix Magath is a huge one -- but no different from when Rene Meulensteen took Fulham to Old Trafford last month and came away with a point.
Last week saw the Cottagers secure only their fourth shutout of the season, albeit against a shot-shy Newcastle United. City have been quick out of the blocks all season, Fulham quite the opposite. But if Magath can organise the boys to stay compact until halftime without conceding, Fulham might just be on for a precious point in the battle to avoid the drop.
I am fairly certain Magath, for once, won't be springing many surprises in selection, but if young Cauley Woodrow is again being left to carry the fight up front as lone striker, it's hard to see where Fulham are likely to get the goals needed for a spectacular upset.
Although Fulham's away form since the December win at Norwich has been miserable, to say the least, they have lost only in three of their past ten encounters at Saturday's opponents. Suffice to say, for what looks Fulham's biggest hurdle of the run-in, come Sunday, I will be ecstatic with a point.
On a heartier note, it is pleasing to hear the squad are being given a hard time of it by the new management team. Fitness levels have been questionable for way too long. A lax attitude on so many levels had pervaded the club over time, and the results on the pitch have been all too tangible. At least if Fulham are going down, let's go down showing some fight.
You are a funny old bunch, my regular followers -- but then, I guess that's why you ended up supporting Fulham. Opinion came in from all sides during the recent purges -- yet after ending our drought with an actual win last time out, this week not a peep from you! Were you all in shock?
A big shoutout to finish for the kids in the FA Youth Cup, now through to face Reading in the semifinals. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: that boy Mousa Dembele is going all the way to the top. I can see him and Mitroglou burning up the championship next season if necessary, which would be harsh on the likes of Woodrow and Marcelo Trotta.
Maybe I could live with one season of championship football after all? Hmm, as long as Queens Park Rangers don't pass us on the way down. COYW!