Manchester City - Stoke Preview: Mancini's men set for stern test against in-form Potters
The Premier League champions are seven points adrift of league leaders Manchester United, but last season's heroics will give them belief against Tony Pulis' free-scoring side
By Tom J Doyle
Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy
Milner, Garcia, Yaya Toure, Silva
Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson
Kightly, Walters, Etherington
Aleksandar Kolarov (groin), Maicon (knee) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) are all set to miss out again for the hosts as they have no set return dates from their respective injuries.
Samir Nasri will begin his ban for the straight red card he received in the 4-3 win away to Norwich, while Micah Richards (knee) is out until at least February.
Mario Balotelli may have recovered from illness in time to make the matchday squad, but it is doubtful the Italian will start the game against the Potters.
Rory Delap (hernia) and Marc Wilson (broken leg) are out for Stoke, while Steven N'Zonzi is serving a ban for his red card against Southampton in the 3-3 Boxing Day draw.
That means that Charlie Adam is likely to partner Glenn Whelan in midfield, while Geoff Cameron could return at right-back ahead of Ryan Shotton after serving a suspension for accruing five yellow cards.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The last two Premier League clashes between the sides have ended 1-1 - however, Manchester City have won the last two league games at the Etihad Stadium 3-0.
- City have only failed to score in three of their 20 Premier League games this season.
- Roberto Mancini's men had a fairly disastrous December, losing three times in all competitions and drawing once, but still won three Premier League games.
- City have kept just one clean sheet in seven games, beating Reading 1-0 at home.
- Edin Dzeko (pictured right) has eight Premier League goals after his double against Norwich, which is one more than both Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez having played fewer minutes than the pair.
- Stoke have conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League this season, letting in just 17 in 20 games.
- Stoke have kept clean sheets in their last three away games - against West Brom (1-0), Aston Villa (0-0) and Tottenham (0-0).
- In nine Premier League meetings between the sides, City have never won away at Stoke, and the Potters have never won away at City.
- The Potters are unbeaten in 10 league games, picking up 20 points from a possible 30.
- Conceding three goals against Southampton was the first time Stoke have let in more than one goal since losing 4-2 to Manchester United on October 20.
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Top 3 Predictions
Manchester City 3-1 Stoke City
- 12.26 %
Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City
- 9.89 %
Manchester City 2-0 Stoke City
- 9.26 %
|Premier League (EPL)||14 Sep 2013||Stoke City 0 - Manchester City 0|
|FA Cup (FA)||26 Jan 2013||Stoke City 0 - Manchester City 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||1 Jan 2013||Manchester City 3 - Stoke City 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||15 Sep 2012||Stoke City 1 - Manchester City 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||24 Mar 2012||Stoke City 1 - Manchester City 1|
|4 Dec 2013||West Bromwich Albion 2 - Manchester City 3||EPL|
|1 Dec 2013||Manchester City 3 - Swansea City 0||EPL|
|27 Nov 2013||Manchester City 4 - FC Viktoria Plzeň 2||UCL|
|24 Nov 2013||Manchester City 6 - Tottenham 0||EPL|
|10 Nov 2013||Sunderland 1 - Manchester City 0||EPL|
The reluctant super-sub became the main man against Norwich, starting the game and netting the first two goals early on to give Manchester City a priceless away win. The Bosnia and Herzegovina forward has scored eight goals in the league, which is one more than Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero despite starting from the bench more often than not. After a fine display at Carrow Road, the striker will surely be given another start, and will be eager to build on his tally to prove to Roberto Mancini he can lead the line regularly for the Premier League champions.
The no-nonsense centre-back has attracted the attention of Manchester United and even City themselves in recent months after his fine club performances earned him an England call-up. The 25-year-old is powerful in the air and confident on the ball, and he will need to be at his best to deny the champions on their home turf. If Shawcross plays well, Stoke usually play well, as shown by the side having the meanest defence in the Premier League. Tony Pulis will be relying on his captain to turn in a top display to lead the Potters to the points.
Stoke have been scoring goals of late, with three against both Liverpool and Southampton in their last two games. The problem is that Manchester City are scoring too, with the champions netting four away at Norwich. They may be seven points behind league leaders Manchester United, but they will surely not be in as forgiving mood as Nigel Adkins' men were to the Potters on Boxing Day. Tony Pulis' team will have to call upon their impressive defence if they are to get anything at the Etihad Stadium, but it is difficult to look beyond Roberto Mancini's side taking the points here.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed