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Men's Team

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City v Fulham: Key battles

TRIO: Walker celebrates with John Stones and Mahrez after restoring our lead.

TRIO: Walker celebrates with John Stones and Mahrez after restoring our lead.

The champions are back in action this weekend against newly-promoted Fulham.

The Blues will face an adventurous, attacking side who will enjoy the space the Etihad pitch provides.

Here we examine some of the likely key match-ups ahead of Saturday’s encounter.

VIEW:Training gallery ahead of Fulham clash

READ: Aguero: 'I feel better than I have in years'

NICE SHOT: Riyad in the swing

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Revving up for Fulham

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Nicolas Otamendi v Aleksandar Mitrovic

We can't second-guess Pep Guardiola's starting line-up on Saturday, but Nicolas Otamendi, fully rested over the international break, could make his first start of the campaign.

If he does, he will face a confident and in-form Aleks Mitrovic.

IN LINE FOR A RECALL: Nicolas Otamendi

The former Newcastle striker is a physically imposing opponent and, after a season-long loan at Craven Cottage last season, has found a spiritual home with the Cottagers.

Whether it's Otamendi, Kompany, Stones or Laporte, at least two of our defenders will know they've been in a game - and vice versa!

Ilkay Gundogan v Jean Michael Seri

If Ilkay Gundogan starts against Fulham, he could well face Jean Michael Seri.

The Ivorian midfielder joined the West Londoners during the summer and has quickly settled to life in the Premier League.

UNMASKED: Gundogan's role could be key against Fulham

Seri is capable of unpicking well-organised defences but loves a shot from distance and he is sure to be briefed to 'have a go' should he have sight of the City goal.

Gundogan and Fernandinho will be aware of his bursts from midfield and eye for a goal - he bagged nine in 31 games for Nice last season - and he will be a threat if allowed too much space and time.

Raheem Sterling v Ryan Sessegnon

Another possible tussle should both players be selected.

The talented Ryan Sessegnon is a constant threat down the left flank and will get forward whenever the opportunity arises.

The youngster is happy at left-back, midfield or left wing and is expected to make a big impact in the Premier League.

RAHEEM STERLING: Right-wing berth for our England forward?

If he faces Raheem Sterling, it should be a fascinating battle - two skilful, pacey and attack-minded English stars in competition with each other - though Sessegnon may well be forced to defend more than he'd like against City.

Sterling has just recovered from a back strain so we'll wait and see if he makes the cut.

Kyle Walker v Andre Schurrle 

Andre Schurrle may not have enjoyed his time as a Chelsea player where he failed to make the impact the club had hoped for, but a spell back home in Germany looks to have put his career back on track.

Schurrle has started well with Fulham.

FIRST GOAL: Kyle Walker struck gold against Newcastle

Two goals in his first four games have made the German a popular figure at Craven Cottage and he has played a more central role in his first few games for the club.

Should he start on the left, he will face the in-form Kyle Walker who scored his first City goal against Newcastle last time out as well as providing an assist for Marcus Rashford's winning goal for England in midweek.

If they are in competition, it should be a pacey battle!

Sergio Aguero v Alfie Mawson

Alfie Mawson must have read Sergio Aguero's quotes in midweek about how he is feeling better than he has done for years and sighed!

RAZOR-SHARP: Sergio Aguero

The last thing any defender wants to hear are the words of a confident, free-scoring striker - add the fact that it has been said by one of the best in the business and you'd forgive the former Swansea centre-half for having a restless sleep on Friday.

That said, Mawson is a powerful and imposing defender who will relish the challenge to show what he's capable of, though he is likely to have one of his busiest 90 minutes of the campaign at the Etihad.

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