Pep Guardiola takes his Manchester City side to the Potteries for a Saturday lunchtime Premier League fixture against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.
Having tasted success both domestically and in the Champions League over the past week, City’s attention now turns to a tough encounter in Staffordshire, as they look to maintain a 100% record of victories under the guidance of Guardiola.
However, standing in the way of the Citizens charge of recording maximum points are a Stoke outfit that have concluded the last three top-flight seasons in ninth position under the watchful eyes of Mark Hughes.
The Welshman comes up against his former employers in the televised game, looking to oversee Stoke’s first win of the season on home soil.
Hughes’ battling side were held to an opening day point by newly-promoted Middlesbrough at the Riverside last Saturday, with Xherdan Shaqiri’s 67th minute free-kick securing a share off the spoils for Stoke on Teesside, prior to Alvaro Negredo’s debut goal in the previous half.
Breaking through the barrier into the top eight may remain a challenge for Hughes’ men, though they will have been buoyed by the £13m signing of industrious midfielder Joe Allen from Liverpool.
Guradiola’s Premier League debut concluded in a 2-1 victory over Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium in the evening game on Saturday, as the Catalan recorded a narrow three points to kick-start a new era at the club.
City took the lead through Sergio Aguero’s fourth minute penalty, with Jermain Defoe levelling up the score with just under 20 minutes to play, to the delight of David Moyes.
It was a former Manchester United defender who ultimately gifted City an unconvincing win after 87 minutes, when Sunderland debutant Paddy McNair glanced into his own goal, to make it one game, one victory in the league for the expectant Sky Blues, a result which places them in fifth, amongst seven other teams on three points.
On Tuesday, Aguero netted a hat-trick, along with strikes from David Silva and Nolito in a scintillating 5-0 thrashing of Steaua Bucharest in the first-leg of their Champions League Play-off.
Swiss international Shaqiri is a doubt for Stoke, prior to the visit of Manchester City. He has a calf injury.
Goalkeeper Jack Butland will miss Saturday’s clash due to an ankle injury that forced him to miss the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough, therefore, veteran 40-year-old Shay Given will continue his run in the team against club where he spent two-years at.
Hughes will also be without Ibrahim Afellay (knee), Stephen Ireland (broken leg), while Glen Johnson is struggling with a thigh injury.
In terms of Manchester City, public goalkeeping issues continue to linger. Guardiola will likely opt for Willy Caballero over the displaced Joe Hart for the third match in a row.
Nicolas Otamendi and £47.5m signing John Stones are set to start in the heart of the defence, with Vincent Kompany currently sidelined for four months after undergoing thigh and groin surgery.
Ilkay Gundogan (knee) also remains an absentee, as does summer recruit Leroy Sane, who is still not fully fit.
Last Season: Stoke City – 9th (51pts): Manchester City – 4th (66pts)
League Form: Stoke City – LLDLWD: Manchester City – DWLDDW
Last Meeting: Manchester City 4-0 Stoke City (April 23, 2016)
Key Men: Stoke City – Giannelli Imbula: Manchester City – Sergio Aguero
Shoot Says: Stoke City 0-1 Manchester City