Manchester City are looking to strengthen their hold on a top four spot as they entertain faltering Stoke in this weekend’s early kick-off at the Etihad Stadium.
City looked imperious in their 3-0 defeat of Chelsea last weekend, but were less impressive in midweek as they were held to a draw at relegation-threatened Newcastle, though Sergio Aguero did notch his 100th Premier League goal.
The draw at St. James’ Park did at least extend City’s unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions, but their record against the top nine (which includes this weekend’s opponents) makes for grim reading; they have won just one of their 13 games against the teams occupying those positions.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have also been stuttering at home in recent weeks; they have lost three of their last five games at home, although their tally of 41 goals on their own turf is comfortably the highest in the division.
Stoke go into the match winless in their last three and with just one victory to their name from the last six matches; a season that looked as if it could end with European football returning to the Potteries has petered out disappointingly.
Mark Hughes’ men were outclassed by Tottenham in Monday’s 4-0 defeat, a match that saw their leaky defence’s poor recent record continue; they have now conceded 10 goals in their last three matches.
The Potters have a good recent record against Manchester City, however; they won 1-0 at the Etihad last season and also won the reverse fixture in December, and another win on Saturday would see them bring up their first league double over the Citizens since 1980/81.
Influential playmaker David Silva returns to the fold for the hosts after two matches out, whilst full-backs Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna are also fit to play.
Midfielder Samir Nasri will miss out with a muscle problem.
Xherdan Shaqiri picked up a knock in Stoke’s defeat on Monday night and will miss the trip to the Etihad, as will left-back Erik Pieters as the Dutchman sits out the second of a two-game suspension.
Goalkeeper Shay Given is likely to continue in goal against his former club.
League Positions: Manchester City – 4th (61 pts); Stoke – 9th (47 pts)
Previous Meeting: Stoke 2-0 Manchester City – December 5, 2015
Form: Manchester City – DLWWWD; Stoke – DLWDLL
Key Players: Manchester City – Sergio Aguero; Stoke – Bojan
Shoot Says: Manchester City 2-0 Stoke