Mancini keen to beat Fulham

Premier League big-spenders Manchester City go to Fulham on Sunday searching for the three points that will keep the pressure on those ahead of them in the table.

With Chelsea, Arsenal and fierce rivals Manchester United forging clear, the men in sky blue must leave the capital with the plaudits.

Fulham manager Mark Hughes will be demanding a massive performance from his players with a bitter taste still lingering in his mouth after being dismissed from the trophy-chasing Citizens last December.

Will Manchester City close the gap on their Premier League rivals at the top of the table with victory at Fulham on Sunday? – Latest Football Betting

He was replaced by Italian Roberto Mancini, who he goes head-to-head with for the first time this weekend and all eyes will automatically turn to this intriguing fixture.

With David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Yaya Toure and James Milner just a few star names set to be on show, nothing less than victory should suffice for the visitors.

But Hughes’ men have their own burning ambitions and they will not roll over without a fight.

The Cottagers can call on a strict defence consisting of Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes, Brede Hangeland and Stephen Kelly and they must be on their guard.

Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey will tie the midfield together although the impressive Mousa Dembele misses out through injury.

Fulham are proving a tough nut to crack on home soil this term with just London rivals Tottenham Hotspur beating them this term and City should take nothing for granted ahead of this meeting.

But the hosts have claimed just one win in their previous nine games and two wins all season in the league as they sit in 16th position, just one point above the relegation zone.

City have been held to goalless draws in their previous two matches, with the Red Devils and Birmingham City thwarting them and it would seem something has to give on the Sabbath.

In the day’s early kick-off, Blackburn Rovers face Aston Villa at Ewood Park. Gerard Houllier’s youthful side will be keen to go one better after being held to what proved to be a disheartening 2-2 draw with Manchester United last weekend.

Most teams would be delighted with picking up a point against the perennial title-challengers, but the manner of the result may still be hurting Villa.

Villa held a two-goal lead thanks to Ashley Young’s penalty and a fine counter-attacking effort finished by Marc Albrighton, but the Red Devils forced their way back into the match with late efforts from Federico Macheda and Nemanja Vidic.

Although confidence may have taken a beating with the untimely turnaround, Houllier will have been delighted with their showing.

He can call on Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stewart Downing, Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso in his energy-rich and sprightly squad.

But a resolute Blackburn team, guided by the no-nonsense Sam Allardyce, should be hard to shake off on their own patch.

The Lancashire side appear to have forgotten their disastrous month of October that yielded just one point from four fixtures by landing successive wins against Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United at the start of November.

They lost 4-2 at Tottenham Hotspur last week, but they will be full of hope ahead of this one.