After a run of six consecutive wins in the Premier League that saw Manchester City cut down an eight point gap the top of the table, they have not won in their last five games and helped open up Chelsea’s lead at the top to seven points. This is their worst run for over five years as a result of which, Mark Hughes was sacked back in 2009.
The former Manchester United defender will be looking to complete a rare double over his former employers having clinched a shock 1-0 win at the Etihad earlier in the season.
His side are in a fine nick of form with just one defeat in their last nine games in all competitions and come into this game boosted by a late Peter Crouch leveller at St. James’ Park.
From title contenders, the Citizens now have to make sure of cementing a Champions League spot with Southampton breathing down their neck and 6th place Arsenal seven points behind them.
Captain Ryan Shawcross has been ruled out for at least three weeks with a groin injury while the duo of Bojan Krkic and Peter Odemwingie are long term absentees with knee injuries. Erik Pieters will once again miss out with a groin injury while Stephen Ireland is a doubt with a hamstring injury.
The Ivorian duo of Yaya Touré and £26m signing Wilfried Bony have been declared unavailable my Manuel Pellegrini after their country’s Africa Cup of Nations victory over Ghana on penalties on Sunday as the visit to Stoke will come too soon for them.
- Only once has a team overcome a seven point difference after 24 games in the Premier League when Manchester United pipped Newcastle United in the 1995/96 season.
- In the 16 games he has faced against Manchester City as a manager, Mark Hughes has won seven, lost seven and drawn the remaining two.
- Manchester City are have lost just once in last 15 matches in the Premier League.
- Manchester City have recorded the highest number of shots in the league so far with an average of 17.1 per game while also averaging the highest possession: 60.4%
- Stoke City have drawn 6 of their last 7 matches against Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium in all competitions.
- Stoke City win 25 aerial duels per game, the highest in the league and Manchester City play the most passes per game (550).
- 64% of City’s shot come from inside the 18-yard-box, the highest in the league while 9% of Stoke’s shot come from inside the 6-yard box, the second highest figure in the league.
Stoke City: 4-2-3-1: Begovic; Bardsley, Muniesa, Wollscheid, Wilson; N’Zonzi, Whelan; Moses, Walters, Diouf, Crouch
Manchester City: 4-2-3-1: Hart; Sagna, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Fernando, Fernandinho; Milner, Silva, Nasri; Aguero
Last five meetings
30 Aug 2014 Manchester City 0 – 1 Stoke City Premier League
22 Feb 2014 Manchester City 1 – 0 Stoke City Premier League
14 Sep 2013 Stoke City 0 – 0 Manchester City Premier League
26 Jan 2013 Stoke City 0 – 1 Manchester City F.A. Cup
01 Jan 2013 Manchester City 3 – 0 Stoke City Premier League
Stoke – Jonathan Walters
The former Ipswich striker became the first Stoke player ever to score a Premier League hat-trick on his 200th appearance for the Potters against QPR. Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet at St. James’ Park, he put in another decent shift helping out his midfield and working hard for the cause while celebrating Crouch’s equaliser by shuffling through the matchday program thrown by a Newcastle fan.
Stoke’s top scorer this season wins 3.8 aerial duels per game and is expected to start on their right flank, linking up with Crouch upfront. He would be also required to tuck in when City have the ball to add up numbers in midfield and break up play. Stoke had very little of the ball when they won at the Etihad though it won’t be the case on Wednesday night. Stoke fans would be hoping that Walters is on the top of his game so that they can end City’s long unbeaten run at the Britannia.
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero
Having gotten injured in the narrow 1-0 over win over Everton in early December, Aguero has gone through a lean patch by his own high standards as he is yet to find the net in his four starts since. He missed a one on one at Stamford Bridge before his wayward shot was deflected in by Silva. He was quiet for the majority of the game against Hull City before hitting the bar late on.
Aguero was in the form of his life before the injury–five goals and three assists in three games–as City dismantled Southampton and Sunderland having come from behind to beat Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich prior to that.
His 14 goals is only second behind Diego Costa’ 17, and at a difficult fixture away at Stoke, one moment of clinical finishing could well be enough to secure the three points and City will be hoping that Aguero delivers to stop the rut they have fallen into.
Can the Champions do it on a cold February night at the Britannia to just about stay in the hunt this time around? It will be difficult, but they’ll come away with a narrow win in a game of few chances.