With most people tipping Manchester City for the championship and suggesting that Stoke would finish in a comfortable mid-table position, it could be said that both of these sides are underperforming this term. Nevertheless, the nature of the top flight means that it’s certainly by fine margins and both clubs will therefore be desperate for points to move them closer towards their respective goals.
In the case of Manchester City, a win might just suffice. Everyone knows about the club’s firepower in front of goal and with Manuel Pellegrini’s side trailing league leaders Chelsea by three points, the title situation could change in an instant. However, Pellegrini is perhaps approaching his most challenging period as Blues boss, with the club in the midst of some poor form by their own standards. They were comfortably beaten, albeit with ten men, against Barcelona in their most recent game, while they have only collected one point from their last two top flight outings. Admittedly, they did beat Chelsea in the FA Cup, but it remains to be seen whether or not they have exited their sticky stage.
Coincidently, Stoke also find themselves just three points away from the bottom three, with the Potters approaching this clash sat in 14th position. Former City boss Mark Hughes has struggled to emulate the success of his predecessor at the Britannia Stadium, although on a more positive note the club find themselves just one point from 10th spot as well. It would be fair to say that December and January were difficult months for the visitors, who went on a run of four straight losses and also put together a winless run of six. However, having beaten Manchester United and recorded draws against Southampton and Swansea, February is proving to be much more favourable and is at least giving Hughes’ side some breathing space.
As for team news, Manchester City will have their skipper available with Vincent Kompany set to start following recent hamstring difficulties. Manuel Pellegrini isn’t without his problems though, with Matija Nastasic to miss out due to a knee injury. Stoke meanwhile will not be able to rely on two players, with the first being John Guidetti who is not eligible to face his parent club due to the terms of his loan agreement. The Potters have been handed a bigger blow in midfield though, with Oussama Assaidi ruled out for the next month and a half due to a knee ligament problem.
Manchester City might be in something of a sticky spell, but we just can’t see them surrendering anything this weekend. Armed with that famous Etihad Stadium advantage, our tip is going to be a comfortable 2-0 win for the home outfit.