Fulham may not be favourites to win a trophy this season, but there will not be much doubt about Roy Hodgson's candidature for manager of the season. No one who watched his side overcome Juventus 4-1 in their Europa League second leg tie on Thursday will have much cause to disagree. To win against an Italian side that boasted the creativity and industry in midfield of the Brazilians Diego and Felipe Melo as well as David Trezeguet, the prolific France striker, up front, was remarkable.
Manchester City will visit a Craven Cottage side still trying to take on board the scale of their triumph. If Roberto Mancini's team think Fulham will be feeling the effects of that game, they should be aware that when the hosts gained another impressive win against Shakhtar Donetsk in the previous round in February, it was followed by a 2-1 victory against Birmingham. And back in December Manchester United were beaten 3-0 after another success in Basle.
"The Premier League itself intrinsically gets a player up for the game," said Hodgson. "There's an expression that's around at the moment that players are 'at it' or not. "Most of the time, the quality of the opposition, a full stad-ium, the intensity and the speed of the game, it would very difficult for a serious professional not to be 'at it'." Paul Konchesky, the Fulham defender, added: "Games like the one against Juventus give you loads of confidence."
The Europa League and FA Cup - Fulham face a quarter-final replay against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday - might be Fulham's twin target, but City have the top four within reach. Hodgson said City "would be disappointed" not to achieve their goal and Shay Given, the City goalkeeper, added: "There's pressure on the manager and on the players to try to deliver that." email@example.com Fulham v Manchester City, 7pm, Showsports Extreme