Pep Guardiola will hope his Manchester City side can continue from a scintillating UEFA Champions League play-off victory against Steaua Bucharest as Mark Hughes hosts his former club.
The deep analysis, criticisms, and appreciations of Guardiola's changes at Manchester City will continue. The Catalan boss will be hoping to stifle any criticisms with a third victory of the season to maintain a 100% record.
For his opposite number, the focus is on taking Stoke City that extra step, pushing them on from a solid position which they have held in the Premier League for numerous years now. Hughes has already brought a mini-revolution at the club since taking charge, adapting the style of play from unwatchable to attractive. Now, that needs to turn into further success.
The Potters drew their opening game at promoted Middlesbrough last weekend. The new boys' new signing Alvaro Negredo scored early to condemn Hughes' side to a 1-0 deficit at half-time. Yet another magical strike from Xherdan Shaqiri saw the spoils shared as his wonderfully curved free-kick dumfounded Victor Valdes to draw level late on. Stoke have had a full week's rest since then, unlike their opposition on Saturday.
Guardiola's Premier League debut was far from nerveless. Sergio Aguero began the new era at City in good fashion, netting a 4th-minute penalty to give them an early lead and the potential to rack up a scoreline against David Moyes' Sunderland. Yet City looked uninspiring and after Moyes introduced some new signings from the bench, Jermain Defoe equalised with a fine finish typical of the Englishman. Paddy McNair, recently signed from Manchester United, had a nightmare of a debut as he struck the ball into his own net with only minutes remaining to give City an opening day victory, if unconvincing.
If that was unconvincing, City's midweek activities were the exact opposite. Traveling to Romania to face Steaua Bucharest, they looked more at home then they seldom have been. Despite two penalty misses, Aguero scored thrice for yet another hat-trick in City colours. Raheem Sterling had one of his best performances for City and was praised by Guardiola after the match, setting up two goals. It was a fine performance and City are almost certainly in the UEFA Champions League group stages now, only needing to avoid a 6-0 defeat at the Etihad next week.
Xherdan Shaqiri was a slight doubt with a calf injury but looks set to feature after overcoming that. Jack Butland remains sidelined for one more week despite working hard to face the Citizens. Glen Johnson, Stephen Ireland, and Ibrahim Afellay are all unavailable, the latter two with long-term injuries that will keep them out until 2017.
Leroy Sane could feature for City for the first time, albeit likely to be from the bench due to the good form of Sterling. Ilkay Gundogan, a new signing at the Etihad, will not be back before the Manchester derby in September with a hamstring injury while Vincent Kompany is struggling with a thigh muscle strain. Kelechi Iheanacho will be hoping to be involved after signing a new two-year contract extension this week.