Even if Manchester City weren’t gunning for a record fourth Premier League title in a row, the odds would be pretty long on Fulham recording a long overdue win against Pep Guardiola’s side at Craven Cottage in the early Saturday kick-off. City have beaten Fulham in their last fifteen meetings across all the competitions and the Whites will be bidding to avoid becoming the first English club to lose sixteen straight matches against a domestic rival whilst City look to pick the points necessary to retain their Premier League crown.

Marco Silva has had to defend his players from accusations of already ‘being on the beach’ and did so passionately in questioning the priorities of a Sky Sports journalist during his press conference earlier this afternoon. The Portuguese head coach gave short shrift to the inclusion of the kite flying clip that has been plastered all over the internet this week – revealing that those activities filmed at Motspur Park took place on a day off and not during scheduled training sessions. As Silva himself side, there are far more pertinent questions to be asked – although it would be timely for his players to win their first game in three at Craven Cottage to round off the campaign in some style.

All of that is much easier said that done. City are have won their last 32 competitive matches – since beating beaten by Aston Villa in December – and have hit their stride at just the right time to overhaul Arsenal and Liverpool in what for a while looked like it would be a gripping title race. Aside from two draws against their nearest challenges, they have won nine of their last eleven games and, crucially, are at full strength for tomorrow’s encounter – when Silva will need to come up with a tactical plan to outwit Guardiola and unsettle one of the most ruthless sides in Premier League history.

Fulham will be without the services of Sasa Lukic after the Serbian midfielder picked up a calf strain in training this week, but Silva will be pondering what sort of changes to his starting eleven could cause City problems. The Whites were ponderous and pedestrian at times in a sleepy local derby at Brentford last weekend, even if Raul Jimenez wasted a glorious chance to take all three points by blasting over an open goal shortly after he came off the bench in the second. Willian looked a little off-colour in that game, but it seems unlikely that Silva will bench the Brazilian veteran. I would like to see Adama Traore given a rare start as the Spanish winger’s pace and power has troubled plenty of top sides this season and the former Wolves wide man doesn’t have a bad record against City himself.

The blueprint for beating Guardiola’s awesome outfit is probably the way that Unai Emery’s men unsettled them in front of a febrile Villa Park crowd back in December. Chelsea followed a similar template in the FA Cup semi-final last month but lacked the finishing ability of a top class centre forward to put City to the sword, but whether the Whites have either the personnel or the skill set to challenge their opponents in such a manner remains to be seen. It would be in keeping with the way that Silva instructions his sides to play: with a positive mindset, plenty of ambition and a feistiness that has been lacking a little in recent weeks, but City will need to be as nervy as Arsenal appeared to be before Christmas in order for the hosts to reap the rewards.

MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Castagne, A. Robinson, Diop, Bassey; Palhinha, Cairney; Traore, Willian, Pereira; Muniz. Subs: Rodak, Tete, Ream, Reed, Wilson, De Cordova-Reid, Iwobi, Jimenez, Broja.