Stars aligning for fourth Man City title as Josko Gvardiol scoring streak continues

Josko Gvardiol - Gvardiol the hero as Manchester City pick apart Fulham to move top of Premier League – reaction

Pep Guardiola has a left-back on the hottest goalscoring streak in the team, and Josko Gvardiol’s two latest goals were even finished with his weaker right foot, all of which suggests that Manchester City have whatever it takes for the record fourth straight Premier League title.

The 21-year-old Gvardiol, a silky Croatian left-back acquired at the start of the season, now has five in seven games for City. The first City goal of his career only arrived in the draw at the Bernabeu last month, 11 months since his previous – in a RB Leipzig shirt. Since Real Madrid he has scored against Luton Town, Nottingham Forest and now two against Fulham as City come bounding down the final stretch of the season.

City are two wins from their sixth title of the Guardiola era, their eighth in the Premier League and their tenth league championship of all time. It may even be settled back in London on Tuesday against Spurs should Arsenal fail to beat Manchester United on Sunday. That last City defeat in any competition outside penalty shootouts remains the one at Villa Park on Dec 6, ever more distant with every win.

It can feel at times that the rest of English football has forgotten how to beat City. After that brief stumble back in December, before they went to Saudi Arabia and won the Fifa Club World Cup without conceding a goal in two games, Guardiola would say that the Aston Villa defeat had been his own team’s fault. They had played poorly. Now they never seem to do so – even against Real Madrid when the new Spanish champions hung on for penalties at the Etihad.

This time City did not even need Erling Haaland’s finishing, which was erratic once again. He only truly got one chance after the hour that was wafted over the bar from a Kevin De Bruyne pass. Haaland was off the pitch by the time of City’s fourth, a penalty that was dispatched by his replacement Julian Alvarez. Phil Foden had scored City’s second, and Fulham finished their last home game of the season with 10 men after Issa Diop’s second yellow card.

The Fulham manager Marco Silva declared this a good season for his club, and well clear of the relegation places, that is certainly a case that can be made. But it always feels like a bad day when City come to visit. They had their most famous fan, Noel Gallagher in the away end, notably declining to take part in the City fans’ Poznan celebration that followed the second Gvardiol goal. There was an early ambitious push from Fulham and then it all was curtailed within 15 minutes as the usual suspects took control.

At £77 million, Gvardiol was not cheap, but he is likely the most successful of the summer signings. He can play at centre-half and full-back and much is expected in both positions in a Guardiola team. His first goal was beautifully taken with his right foot, as was his second. No defender has ever scored a Premier League hat-trick and he had a hopeful look about him when Alvarez won the penalty in time added on at the end.

Kyle Walker, a first half replacement for Nathan Ake, instructed Alvarez to take it. The four City goals meant that the goal difference deficit to Arsenal was reduced to two. Although Guardiola later said he did not feel that goal difference would be a consideration.

City returned to Manchester on Saturday afternoon before coming back on Tuesday for that night’s game at Spurs. Winning away at that new stadium is no small feat, even with Spurs’ indifferent form. It is just very hard to see City losing games, such is the level of their control. They have been run very close by Arsenal thus far and Guardiola went on at some length about how much his players enjoyed the pressure of these runs where a single bad game can change the destiny.

It was hard not to argue. Walker, Rodri, De Bruyne, Ederson and Bernardo Silva are just a few steeped in this manner of winning. They make it look very easy. De Bruyne’s exchange on 13 minutes with Gvardiol put the latter in a good position and a change of direction left Diop out of the picture. The finish with his right foot was calm and precise.

Diop had a bad day, eventually booked by Anthony Taylor in the second half for his persistent fouls on Haaland. The Fulham defender would be sent off in injury-time for another foul on substitute Alvarez. Before then Gvardiol had stretched with the outside of his right to guide Bernardo’s cross just inside the back post. Foden had scored a decisive second. The ball had spilled from a tackle by Palhinha on Silva after the latter had slipped away from Antonee Robinson.

This is a good Fulham squad, even if this defeat made it just one win in their last eight Premier League games. Before then it had been four wins in six including that 3-0 victory over Spurs on March 16. The challenge for them and Silva is doing it all over again next season and the gap to City remains as great as ever. They had one attempt on target. This was at least an improvement on their 5-1 defeat at the Etihad in September.

The pressure switches to Arsenal now on Sunday and then, if Mikel Arteta’s side do win, back to City again on Tuesday. This undefeated run has to end somewhere, of course, but the signs that its end is imminent are few indeed.

Fulham vs Manchester City: As it happened . . .

03:25 PM BST

Final game at the Cottage this season

It was a disappointing performance and result for Fulham in their final home game of the season. They barely fired a shot this afternoon and Manchester City were in cruise control for a lot of that game.

03:14 PM BST

Another assist for De Bruyne

03:13 PM BST

Rodri’s unbeaten run

03:02 PM BST

Pep Guardiola speaking to the BBC

“The great players enjoy playing with great pressure. These players in the last few years have been able to do it and we are again in the latter stages. Our dream is as we said a few weeks ago when they [Arsenal] lost against Aston Villa was to arrive in the last games with it in our hands, to play West Ham at home with the destiny belonging to us.

“We did a really good job today. The first ten minutes we struggled because as always they defend really well. When Berni [Silva] and Kova [Kovacic] and Rodri make a long action with a lot of passes and calmed the game and then Josko managed to get the goal - could have signed the best winger on the planet. We played really well and now we recover, go back to Manchester, then come back to London to play the final [against Spurs] the big final we have to try and retain our title.

On Josko Gvadiol’s unexpected goal tally:

“Absolutely unexpected. He is unbelievable with both feet. Normally the left is difficult to find, he is more comfortable with his right. Big goal at Santiago Bernabeu, goal today with the right foot. Second half he was not at his best, lot a lot of balls, and as a defender you have to be tight. For him to add the goals he is it is more than welcome, but he has to be more tight. But he is 21 years old he will improve.

02:57 PM BST

TNT crew discuss status of the title race

02:54 PM BST

Marco Silva talking to TNT

“It was really difficult, the way we planned the game, the first goal made a huge impact. The way we conceded was good combination play, pass and go from the left back but we should have dealt with it better. We should have been more aggressive in that moment, disrupt the run of Gvardiol more than we did.

“First half was a little quiet from us, not that many chances. We did not have much of the ball but even City with the control of the game did not have many chances.

“Second half we tried to change things from the bench, add Adama to give more power to our right hand side, get combinations with Iwobi and try to add more dangerous moments in on that right hand side. We had some good moments for around 15 minutes, had a chance with Muniz from a good Adama cross. After that the second goal killed the game.

On Manchester City controlling the game and having an impact:

“It is difficult. They control the ball, control the game and take a lot of energy from you. Take a lot of emotion energy too. The crucial moments are when you win the ball back or they lose it and we need to try and make more of those moments. With it being so difficult we had to try and have the confidence to go [forward] but it was not the same, and it was hard to make an impact.

On the season overall:

“It was a successful season with the context of what happened in the summer, a difficult summer after a good last season. We had to rebuild again and we did it really well. We did not have the power of the other teams but it was a success. Now is the moment to sit with the board and discuss what are possibilities are. If we want to take a step forward we need to be clear and find out what the steps are in the market and go from there.”

02:45 PM BST

Man of the match Josko Gvardiol speaking to TNT

02:40 PM BST

Another penalty for Manchester City against Fulham

02:37 PM BST

Stat attack

02:35 PM BST

FT verdict

After Manchester City scored their third goal here, the entire visitors’ end erupted in a collective display of the Poznan celebration. Except for one figure, standing static in the middle of the bouncing frenzy, looking pensive, pessimistic, as if it were all too early to get excited. It was Noel Gallagher, their musical cheerleader in chief.

But watching this City side in action it is hard to resist the notion that Gallagher was being unduly nervous. After this comprehensive win it would be take an insistent Arsenal fan to suggest that their fourth title on the bounce is not already wrapped up, done and dusted. They are two victories away from certainty. And it is hard to see Tottenham or West Ham being any more certain in their resistance than a game, but ultimately ineffective Fulham.

And this display gave visible demonstration why it is going to happen. Pep Guardiola’s side do everything well. From their goalkeeper, smothering Fulham’s only chance with ease, through a back four rarely troubled, through a brilliant midfield of grit, determination and skill they have everything. So good are they, they could even afford an off day from their main finisher Erling Haaland. It is now out of Arsenal’s hands. And, for all of Gallagher’s nervous trepidation,  City will not slip now.

02:34 PM BST

Ally McCoist on TNT

“You’d describe this performance as comprehensive. It’s been an almost-perfect performance from Pep Guardiola and his side. It’s just been a proper, professional performance.

“An outstanding performance from start to finish. They got the early goal and they were very comfortable - absolutely different class.”

02:27 PM BST


That is it at Craven Cottage and Manchester City have cruised to three points this afternoon. That could not really have been any easier for the visitors as they move two points clear of Arsenal at the top of the league.

02:26 PM BST

GOAL! Alvarez scores fourth for the visitors

The Argentine calmly slots home into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 4-0. The goal difference is coming closer together now, with Arsenal just two goals ahead now.

02:25 PM BST

Who will take the penalty?

Gvardiol is on a hat-trick but he will not take it. Instead Alvarez will...

02:25 PM BST

Penalty Manchester City

Alvarez goes down in the box and Anthony Taylor points to the spot. As well as awarding a penalty, Taylor also brings out a second yellow and a red for Diop.

02:22 PM BST

90+3 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Fulham have had just one attempt all game. They have barely fired a shot or thrown a punch this afternoon.

02:21 PM BST

90+2 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Rodri shoots from distance but his effort is dragged and goes well wide of Leno’s right post.

02:20 PM BST

90 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

There will be seven added minutes at the end of the game.

02:18 PM BST

88 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Lewis tries to find Bobb in the centre of the box but it is cut out at a crucial moment.

02:17 PM BST

87 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Doku has been down receiving some treatment but he is now back on his feet.

02:11 PM BST

82 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Doku cuts onto his right and shoots from the edge of the box. Leno makes a good save to his right at the near post. Pep Guardiola is now making a triple change:

ON Alvarez, Lewis, Bobb

OFF Haaland, Kovacic, Foden

Pep Guardiola has just delivered the ultimate definition of being in complete control. With ten minutes left, he has just taken off Mateo Kovacic, Erling Haaland and Phil Foden.

Erling Haaland embraces Pep Guardiola as he comes off
Manchester City in complete control of the game - Paul Childs/Reuters

02:08 PM BST

78 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Diop is the first player into Anthony Taylor’s book this afternoon.

02:04 PM BST

75 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Manchester City change:

ON Doku

OFF De Bruyne

02:04 PM BST

74 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 3

Fulham change:

ON Wilson

OFF Pereira

02:03 PM BST

Goal stands

It is cleared by VAR and the goal stands. Manchester City are going top of the league.

After an interminable delay, checking and rechecking whether Manuel Akanji was off side and whether he had in any case touched the ball as it drfited across the front of the Fulham area, Josko Gvardiol, after smartly sliding in to slip Siva’s cross beyond Leno, is finally awarded his second goal of the game. “Champions Again,” chant the visiting fans. Look away Arsenal supporters: it is hard to argue with that.

02:02 PM BST

VAR check

It would not matter whether Akanji gets a touch or not as he would be interfering, but it looks like he is being played onside.

02:02 PM BST

GOAL! Gvardiol has his second of the day

3-0 and game, set and match. Manchester City play it short and Bernardo sends in the cross to the far post. Gvardiol is onside and is on the stretch, but he squeezes it past Leno. VAR will check to see if Akanji was offside...

01:58 PM BST

68 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 2

De Bruyne goes down in the box wanting a penalty but Palhinha just gets the ball with his sliding tackle. The ball falls at the feet of Haaland, whose strike hits De Bruyne and loops over the bar.

Joao Palhinha slides in for the ball
Joao Palhinha (bottom) times his tackle to perfection - Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

01:56 PM BST

66 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 2

Fulham change:

ON Broja

OFF Muniz

01:53 PM BST

63 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 2

The Fulham players and fans appeal for a handball on Bernardo but looking at the replays it hit his chest, not his arm. Safe to say those appeals did not last long, nor did the VAR check.

01:51 PM BST

62 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 2

Big miss from Haaland. De Bruyne finds the Norwegian on the right-hand side of the box. He opens up his body and you think he is about to curl it into the far corner, but he lifts it too high and he misses the target. That should have been 3-0.

01:48 PM BST

GOAL! Foden doubles Manchester City’s advantage

It is 2-0. Bernardo drives inside from the left but is dispossessed by a great sliding challenge by Palhinha. But the ball falls to Foden, who finds the bottom corner. He celebrates right in front of the travelling Manchester City fans.

The Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year Phil Foden does it again. Fulham appeared to have seen off the danger when Palhinha went sliding in on Bernardo Silva. But the ball bounced towards Foden, who immediately shot into the one place Leno couldn’t reach. That really is outstanding finishing.

01:47 PM BST

58 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Fulham come close to the equaliser. It is worked out to the right to Traore. He sends the ball across via a deflection to Muniz, who tries a fancy flick. Ederson gets his feet going to make the save to his right.

Ederson grabs hold of the ball
Ederson (pictured) scrambles across to make the save to deny Rodrigo Muniz - Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

At the other end De Bruyne shoots from the edge of the box and Leno gets down to his right to make the save.

01:43 PM BST

53 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Save from Leno. Bernardo shoots from the right-hand side of the box and Leno makes the save at his near post as Bernardo tried to squeeze it past him. It was a save Leno should be making and he does so.

01:42 PM BST

51 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

That sort of sums up Traore’s career. He is sent free down the right and runs at Akanji into the Manchester City box. He sends in a cross but it is way too heavy and goes behind for a goal-kick. He has a lot of speed and power but not a lot of end product.

01:35 PM BST

Second half

We are back under way at Craven Cottage. Fulham have made a couple of changes at the break:

ON Cairney, Traore

OFF Willian, DeCordova-Reid

01:27 PM BST

Gvardiol on good goalscoring form

You would not associate Josko Gvardiol as a goalscorer but he has been in decent form in front of goal of late:

01:25 PM BST

HT verdict

Arsenal could not complain that Fulham have not done their best to slow Manchester City’s relentless march on the title. Taking their lead from their manager Marco Silva, at one point raging on the touchline as a passing move broke down, the Fulham players have done their best to apply a spanner to City’s works. Their entire midfield has worked their socks off,  Palhinha, in particular, reminding everyone that while he may not be Rodri, he has few peers in the Premier League as a defensive midfielder, constantly tackling, intervening, blocking.

But City in this mood are simply too good, too fluid, too careful in possession. As yet the visitors have not been awarded a penalty, as they have in their previous seven games in all competitions against Fulham. But then they haven’t needed one. The suspicion for everyone watching is that the second half will bring more goals to add to Josko Gvardiol’s lovely opener. And they are unlikely, for all their huffing and puffing, to be going Fulham’s way.

01:19 PM BST


Anthony Taylor blows his whistle and that is half-time at Craven Cottage. Josko Gvardiol’s early goal gives the visitors the lead and as it stands they are going top of the league.

01:16 PM BST

45 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Iwobi sends in a great cross from the the right-hand touchline to the back post. Muniz looks to win the header but Dias does superbly under pressure to head away from danger.

There will be three added minutes at the end of this first half.

01:15 PM BST

43 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Bernardo’s shot from inside the box is blocked by Diop and goes behind for a corner. Manchester City play it short before De Bruyne sends in a brilliant cross to the far post. Akanji is free and should bury the chance but somehow he misses the target. Manchester City should be 2-0 up there.

Manchester City's Swiss defender Manuel Akanji misses a chance
Manuel Akanji (centre) misses a glorious chance to double Manchester City's lead - Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

01:11 PM BST

40 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Muniz looks like he is behind and Dias looks like he has misjudged it. But at just the crucial moment before Muniz can have a shot one-on-one with Ederson Dias makes a crucial interception.

01:09 PM BST

38 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Manchester City break and De Bruyne is found in acres of space by Kovacic. He is running at Diop into the Fulham box and his shot is deflected behind for a corner.

De Bruyne’s delivery misses everyone, including a leaping Haaland.

01:06 PM BST

35 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

The way Manchester City’s dominate the ball should be compulsory viewing for every student coach. Theirs is not the bland, sideways across the back four style of so many modern teams. They do not keep possession for its own sake. Every single player who has the ball is looking to make a forward progression. Meanwhile, the players ahead of those in charge of the ball are constantly moving and interchanging. Bernardo Silva, Phil  Foden, Kevin De Bruyne taking it in turns to move back to receive it. It is a masterclass in action.

01:04 PM BST

33 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Manchester City have a corner on the left after the final touch comes off Castagne. De Bruyne sends a drilled ball to Gvardiol near the edge of the box but his header whilst back-pedaling is cleared away.

01:00 PM BST

30 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Another assist for De Bruyne:

12:58 PM BST

28 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Foden is the next Manchester City player to take aim from distance but his effort is straight at Leno and it is an easy save for the Fulham goalkeeper.

12:56 PM BST

25 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

In the league this season, on the 23 occasions they have scored first Manchester City have not lost, winning 19 of those games.

Bernardo has an effort first time from outside the box but his shot is saved by Leno diving to his left.

12:52 PM BST

22 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Ake has tried to run off the knock but he is not going to be able to continue. It seems to be a foot injury for Ake. Walker has been warming up and he is going to come on for Ake. As Manchester City prepare that change there has been a water break. That will require a shift in defence as Akanji will move inside to centre-back and Walker on in his customary right-back spot.

Nathan Ake going off injured
Nathan Ake (far right) injured so he is replaced by Kyle Walker - Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

12:50 PM BST

20 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Foden goes down clutching his face and Anthony Taylor blows for a free-kick. DeCordova-Reid does deliberately block him but it did seem to be a slight overreaction. Meanwhile Ake is still struggling with a knock he picked up a few minutes ago.

12:47 PM BST

15 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 1

Fulham are nearly creators of their own downfall there and almost are 2-0 down. Bassey makes a mess of a back-pass and then header, which gifts possession to De Bruyne inside the Fulham box. His ball to the far post is headed down to Haaland, who volleys over.

12:43 PM BST

GOAL! Gvardiol gives Manchester City early lead

The visitors are ahead inside the opening quarter of an hour. Gvardiol moves in-field from the left and plays a one-two with De Bruyne. The lifted ball from the Belgian back to Gvardiol is delightful. The Croatian defender then takes a great first touch and with his right foot he beats Leno to his right. As it stands, granted with still most of the game to go, Manchester City are going top.

That was Manchester City’s full back, giving a smart impression of Lionel Messi there. Josko Gvardiol took the ball on the wing, cut inside, exchanged a smart one two with Kevin De Bruyne then beautifully slotted the ball past Bernd Leno. What a goal.

12:38 PM BST

7 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 0

Fulham have certainly made the brighter start in the early stages.

12:34 PM BST

3 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 0

The corner is sent in by Pereira towards the near post but it looks like Diop who heads further away from goal.

Then Robinson sends in a cross from the left and despite the fact it looks like it comes off Dias last, Anthony Taylor gives a goal-kick.

12:32 PM BST

2 mins: Fulham 0 Manchester City 0

Fulham have the first corner of the match as Pereira’s cross from the left is blocked behind by Dias. Early opportunity for Fulham...

12:30 PM BST


Before the game we pay tribute to Viv Busby, who died on Wednesday at the age of 74. Busby played over 100 times for Fulham.

A general view of a minutes applause for Viv Busby during the Premier League match at Craven Cottage
Craven Cottage pays tribute to Viv Busby, who died aged 74 this week - Zac Goodwin/PA

We are under way at Craven Cottage. Will Manchester City go top or can Fulham cause a shock in the West London sunshine?

12:25 PM BST

Kick-off fast approaching

The Manchester City players have been ready in the tunnel well ahead of time, around eight minutes before kick-off. Both sides now make their way from the tunnel onto the pitch and we are just moments away from kick-off.

12:23 PM BST

Reminder of the team news

Fulham: Leno, Castagne, Diop, Bassey, Robinson, Iwobi, Palhinha, De Cordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian, Muniz.

Substitutes: Rodak, Tete, Reed, Jimenez, Wilson, Broja, Cairney, Traore, Ream.

Manchester City: Ederson, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol, Rodri, Kovacic, Silva, De Bruyne, Foden, Haaland.

Substitutes: Walker, Stones, Doku, Ortega, Alvarez, Gomez, Luiz, Bobb, Lewis.

12:20 PM BST


Manchester City’s players have just been practising their shooting on the pitch at Craven Cottage. Much to the delight of the Fulham fans behind the goal, Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland all missed with their first effort. Though to the disappointment of all Arsenal fans hoping for an off afternoon by their rivals for the title, all three subsequently hit the net every time.

12:18 PM BST

Visitors gearing up

12:15 PM BST

A penalty guaranteed?

12:10 PM BST

One change for Fulham

Marco Silva has made one change as Bobby DeCordova-Reid has replaced the injured Sasa Lukic. DeCordova-Reid captains the side.

12:07 PM BST

Will former Arsenal players do them a favour?

There are three ex-Arsenal players in the starting XI; Bernd Leno, Alex Iwobi and Willian. Leno has even admitted to receiving messages from those of an Arsenal persuasion. Arsenal fans will be desperate to see their former players help Fulham cause a shock this afternoon.

Willian arriving at Craven Cottage
Willian (pictured) is one of three former Arsenal players in the starting XI for Fulham this afternoon - Paul Childs/Reuters

12:01 PM BST

Marco Silva speaking to TNT

On what he expects from his team: 

“The same quality, attitude and commitment. To be competitive like we have been so far this season. We know we are going to face the champions [of last season] and a great side a team with lot of quality.

“Huge respect to them, but we are looking at ourselves. We are going to give it a good game and try get three points.”

On Bobby De Cordova-Reid: 

“We talked about certain aspects of the game we wanted to improve and in some moments City will keep the possession. We need to take some energy from the opposition side and Bobby can be an important piece of that.”

On playing a role in the title race: 

“That is not our motivation, that motivation should be for Arsenal and City. For us, it is a fight for the three points - we know what is behind the game.”

11:55 AM BST

Full team news

Fulham make one change as Sasa Lukic misses out through injury and he is replaced by Bobby De Cordova-Reid, who captains the hosts.

Fulham: Leno, Castagne, Diop, Bassey, Robinson, Iwobi, Palhinha, De Cordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian, Muniz.

Substitutes: Rodak, Tete, Reed, Jimenez, Wilson, Broja, Cairney, Traore, Ream.

Manchester City make one change to the side that beat Wolves 5-1, with Ruben Dias coming in for Kyle Walker. Jack Grealish is missing from the matchday squad due to illness.

Manchester City: Ederson, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol, Rodri, Kovacic, Silva, De Bruyne, Foden, Haaland.

Substitutes: Walker, Stones, Doku, Ortega, Alvarez, Gomez, Luiz, Bobb, Lewis.

11:52 AM BST

Beautiful weather on the Thames

11:49 AM BST

Pep Guardiola talking to TNT

“We know what we are playing for - three finals. This is the first one.”

On playing before Arsenal: 

“No, every week it’s this question. In the last weeks, always we played after. It doesn’t matter. You just have to win the games to be champions. We cannot expect any dropped points from our rivals.”

On Ruben Dias replacing Kyle Walker:

“Kyle didn’t train in the last two days. We have a game on Tuesday and Ruben is so reliable in these games.”

On Jack Grealish’s absence: 

“He is OK. He just felt a bit ill but he’s fine.”

11:46 AM BST

Visitors arriving

11:40 AM BST

Your predictions

Will Manchester City go top or can Fulham spring a surprise in their final home game of the season? Remember you can have your say in the comments section at the bottom of the blog.

11:30 AM BST

Manchester City team news

11:30 AM BST

Fulham team news

11:26 AM BST

Bernd Leno speaking to TNT

“I have received a lot of messages from the Arsenal boys and they are saying ‘to make City drop some points’, but we obviously want to win and finish on a high - that is why we have prepared for the game.”

On having no pressure for the game: 

“It makes a big difference when you’re under big pressure like being in a relegation battle. Of course, it is a big game for Arsenal as well, but we want to make it as hard a possible.

“We made it very hard for City this year [at the Etihad] and we have beat Tottenham and Arsenal [at Craven Cottage this year] - we need a perfect day or it will be difficult for us.”

11:22 AM BST

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11:17 AM BST

Final home game at the Cottage this season

11:10 AM BST

Lunchtime kick-off pre-amble

Manchester City will leapfrog leaders Arsenal if they manage to beat Fulham at Craven Cottage in today’s lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola’s side start the afternoon a single point and and one place behind Arsenal, who play tomorrow afternoon at Manchester United. Reigning champions Manchester City, however, have a game in hand over Arsenal, which is away at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night. Guardiola has no fresh injury concerns to worry about.

“No injury worries. Everyone is fine,” the Spaniard said in his pre-match press conference on Friday. “I don’t know what other clubs do, but for many years we’ve had an incredible medical department here.

“Doing the same thing could be maybe the opposite, but we were fortunate last season too we had few injuries.”

Marco Silva braced his Fulham players to face a team “like no other team in the world” when they host City.

Fulham, who are 13th, have enjoyed another solid campaign in their second season since promotion to the top flight, one in which they have improved their record against the division’s top sides.

Last season, despite finishing 10th, they recorded only four wins against teams that finished above them and none at all against those in the top five.

This campaign has seen more success against sides placed higher with eight victories so far, including at home to Arsenal and Tottenham, away at Manchester United and a league double over West Ham.

“Last season, even in that amazing season from ourselves, I was questioned many times – and probably fair enough – about us being good against the teams under ourselves [in the league],” said Silva.

“Against the teams above ourselves, we just won one, against the top sides we hadn’t won, all that stuff. I think this season we gave some steps in this aspect, we have been really tough to play against.

“Even last season we were, but we didn’t achieve the results. This season it’s been different, we have been achieving some great results with some great performances against the top sides of this Premier League.

“And it is a great challenge again because [Manchester City[ is a team that demands many, many things from you, it’s a team that probably like no other team in the world has the capacity to have the ball and to keep the possession and frustrate the opposition side with the possession that they have.”

Silva’s team were thrashed 5-1 by City when the teams met at the Etihad Stadium in September but competed well in the first half and were unfortunate to trail 2-1 at the break, falling behind to a Nathan Ake goal in the fifth minute of added time.

City overpowered them after the interval with Erling Haaland scoring a second-half hat-trick, but have recovered to put in strong showings against teams in the top half of the table.

And having run the champions close in a narrow 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage last season, Silva called for his side to be similarly competitive on Saturday.

“They are the champions, they want to be champions again and are in a big fight with Arsenal to achieve it,” he said.

“Great season for both sides, but it’s not for us to talk about that race. We talk about ourselves and we are going to fight for the result and prepare ourselves for it.

“Last season at the Cottage was a really good game from ourselves, but unfortunately we haven’t got what we probably deserved in that game. That’s all it is. Let’s try to improve for the next one.”

Team news to follow shortly.

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