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Manchester City-Fulham Preview

AP - Sports

Manchester City aren't likely to feel the effects of Sergio Aguero's absence until Boxing Day.

Before that, they'll try to remain unbeaten against Fulham for a tenth straight meeting.

The Citizens had little trouble in their first game without their top scorer, and that's likely to be the case again on Saturday against spiraling Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Aguero found the net in his third straight Premier League match before getting hurt last weekend, opening the scoring in a 6-3 win over first-place Arsenal. The Argentina international is out for at least one month because of a right calf injury, leaving Man City (10-2-4) without their top scoring threat. The forward leads the club with 19 goals in all competitions, and his 13 in league play are second only to Liverpool's Luis Suarez.

City may not significantly feel his absence until hosting Liverpool on Boxing Day. They're 6-3-0 over their past nine meetings with Fulham, outscoring them 20-9 - 7-1 while winning three in a row.

The Sky Blues certainly didn't miss Aguero on Tuesday, beating Leicester City of the Championship 3-1 to advance to the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup.

"That's why I always say that we have a squad and it's important to change the team, but to try and play exactly the same," manager Manuel Pellegrini told the team's official website about rotating his squad. "It is important to improve in the way we are playing.

"It doesn't matter if we are playing in Capital One, if we are playing in the Premier League or Champions League. We try to play in the same way, changing names, but trying to continue with one style. It's also important that all the players of the squad know that they are important."

Aguero's injury may increase Edin Dzeko's importance. The forward scored twice on Tuesday, giving him nine goals in 18 games over all competitions.

Dzeko, though, has just three goals in 10 league matches - five starts - and none in his past four.

Alvaro Negredo, who was rested versus Leicester, has been doing his part even with a healthy Aguero around. The forward has four goals in six Premier League matches after scoring against Arsenal.

Despite scoring seven goals in league play, Negredo has just one in seven away matches and none in the past six.

Still, scoring isn't an issue for Manchester City, who lead the Premier League with 47 goals while netting 26 during a 5-1-1 stretch.

That would seem likely to continue against a Fulham side that's surrendered 30 goals to match last-place Sunderland for the most in the league.

The Cottagers have been outscored 24-9 while losing eight of their past nine matches in all competitions, including last weekend's 4-1 defeat at Everton.

Manager Rene Meulensteen insisted the score-line wasn't reflective of Fulham's performance.

"There has been a positive trend with regards to energy, commitment and drive, and I think again there were some really good signs," he told the team's official website.

Dimitar Berbatov has a goal in each of the last two games, but they've both come as penalties. He has one goal in 13 meetings with Manchester City, but none in the past 11.

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