Pep Guardiola is hopeful of having striking sensation Erling Haaland available for Manchester City’s meeting with Fulham, but said the Norwegian would be assessed at the last minute after missing their last two games.
Haaland – scorer of 17 goals in 11 Premier League appearances for City – missed last week’s win over Leicester City and Wednesday’s Champions League victory against Sevilla with a foot injury.
Guardiola was pleased to see Haaland return to training this week but will be cautious over his return, though Manuel Akanji will certainly be fit.
“He’s much better. We will decide today,” Guardiola said on Friday. “It’s a good step, he starts to train, and we have training this afternoon and we will see.
“It all depends on himself, his opinion and the doctors’ opinion. It could be 90 minutes or less, we will see after training.
“Manu is okay, Kalvin (Phillips) and Kyle (Walker) are still not fit. Some players who didn’t play (against Sevilla) will play. I have many players, I have to use them.”
Fulham have shone on their return to the Premier League under Marco Silva – occupying seventh place after 13 games – and recently welcomed Wales winger Harry Wilson back from a knee injury.
Silva highlighted the former Liverpool man’s quality as he emphasized the importance of easing him in.
“He needs game time – more than time in training sessions, he needs game time to get on his best form,” Silva said of Wilson.
“He is an important player for us, a different profile than what we have in the outfield players, with the left foot.
“He’s an important one for us, the last two games he started, played about 60 minutes at a good level, but I know and he knows as well that he can play at a much higher level.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne has been involved in 29 goals in the Premier League in 2022 (13 goals, 16 assists), second only to Tottenham’s Harry Kane (32). The Belgian has also had a hand in 18 goals in his last 13 starts against newly promoted opponents (seven goals, 11 assists).
Fulham – Andreas Pereira
Pereira has created 34 chances in the Premier League this season, second only to Kevin De Bruyne (40), with Pereira creating a league-high 20 during October. Seven of those were against Everton in last week’s goalless draw, the most by a Fulham player in a Premier League game since Simon Davies against West Ham in December 2010 (also seven).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 14 Premier League games against Fulham, winning 11 and drawing three. They have won each of their last nine against them in the competition, keeping a clean sheet in each of the last five.
– Manchester City have won their last 12 meetings with Fulham in all competitions, only ever having longer winning runs against Watford (15) and West Bromwich Albion (14). They have also netted at least twice in each of their last 13 against the Cottagers in all competitions.
– City have won their last 10 home Premier League games, scoring at least three times in every single victory (43 goals in total). They could become the first top-flight side to win more than 10 such home games in a row since Aston Villa between December 1930 and September 1931 (13 in a row).
– Fulham have won 19 points in their opening 13 Premier League games this season (W5 D4 L4), more points than they had at this stage in 2018-19 (eight) and 2020-21 (nine) combined.
– Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is the only player to have had more than 50 shots in the Premier League this season (56). He had 10 efforts at goal without scoring in their goalless draw with Everton, the most by a player without finding the net in a game since Harry Kane against Brighton and Hove Albion in December 2017 (also 10).