Manchester City travel to Stoke tomorrow evening looking to record their first win since New Year’s Day and get their Premier title ambitions back on track. The defending champions will also be looking to avenge their 1-0 defeat to the Potters the last time the two sides met in August; courtesy of a well-taken solo effort from Mame Biram Diouf, Pellegrini will be eager to avoid a repeat result this time around.
City’s form of late hasn’t been what is expected of the reigning champions, they needed a late James Milner equaliser to rescue them a point at home against Hull at the weekend. Meanwhile Stoke have hit a rich vein of form, they’ve only lost one of their last seven league games.
Also, Stoke manager Mark Hughes faces one of his former sides, and isn’t underestimating the Blues. “They've (Manchester City) not picked up as many points as they would have liked," the Welshman said. He also added: "top teams and top players bounce back very quickly."
The Citzens will want to record a win and keep the pressure on league leaders Chelsea, who currently sit seven points clear at the top of the table, and host Everton in another midweek fixture scheduled for tomorrow night. Stoke on the other hand, will look to consolidate their place in the top ten as Newcastle are breathing down their necks.
For Stoke, a whole host of injuries as Stephen Ireland (hamstring) and Marc Wilson (groin) join players such as; Ryan Shawcross (back), Erik Pieters (hernia), Bojan and Peter Odemwingie (both knee) on the sidelines. However, Marko Arnautovic has a chance of returning to the squad as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Manchester City have no injury concerns however they still are unable to call on star player Yaya Touré and new signing Wilfried Bony. Both are returning from what was a victorious Africa Cup of Nations campaign with the Ivory Coast. Pellegrini has already publicly stated that he’d sooner not risk them.
Many believe this is one of the last real chances Manchester City have to keep in the title race, as a loss or draw here could see them fall further behind and likely to be out of the title race, with Chelsea full of momentum as of late. Stoke would love the opportunity to virtually end City’s title hopes but they must know how difficult a game to expect as City are hungry and looking to bounce back from their inconsistencies of late.