For the third match in succession Stoke City conceded four goals in what can only be described as a worrying trend that Mark Hughes must sort out if his side are to stop their slide down the league table. Considering the previous two results, it is imagined that Hughes would have worked hard during the week on the defence however, it was to no avail, and again the Potters were easily cut apart.
Geoff Cameron was the man to blame for Manchester City's first goal as he was out-jumped by Fernando at the near post to set City on their way. Ryan Shawcross was the next Stoke player to join Cameron in being liable for Stoke being two - nil down at the break. It was Shawcross' needless arm across the impressive Kelechi Iheanacho that gave Sergio Aguero the opportunity to net the 101st Premier League goal of his career from the penalty spot.
Chances go begging for Potters
Stoke however did have chances of their own and came to rue these missed opportunities. Playing against an in form Manchester City, who will look to build on this display ahead of their Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday, is never an easy task, let alone when chances go amiss.
Mama Biram Diouf headed into the side netting when free at a corner whilst the score was still two- nil to City. Had he scored, the game may have taken a different course.
Arnautovic impresses once again
Joselu too wasted a good chance, shooting over when Marko Arnautovic had crossed an early ball into his path. The Austrian was by far Stoke's best player, constantly attacking City's back four, and Joselu has to score when given chances such as these if he is to cut it in the Premier League.
Contract negotiations are still on going with Arnautovic at the moment and Stoke must make every effort to keep the Austrian if they are to progress further under Hughes. Arnautovic had another chance for Stoke having cut inside onto his favoured right foot only to be denied by a strong double handed save by Joe Hart on an afternoon where he had few saves to make. Whilst the club will not want to be held to ransom, neither can they let a player of his quality slip through their fingers.
Iheanacho steals the show
As it was, City carved more chances and punished a Stoke side who look short of confidence. Iheanacho, the young Nigerian striker, was very impressive for the Blues. His movement and speed off the ball allowed him to make space in behind Stoke. He may only be 19 years of age, but his confidence on the ball and in front of goal belie the inexperience his young age may suggest.
In particular for his first goal, he pulled back off the Potters’ centre back to give himself the time and space to easily side foot into the empty net. His second goal was the pick of all four. The presence of mind to let his first touch take him into the space behind the Stoke back four showed footballing intelligence and presence of mind, before using his raw pace to get himself one-on-one with Jakob Haugaard. Having done this, he coolly took it past the young Dane before slotting home. Iheanacho has a very bright future indeed and looks a natural born goalscorer.
Yet more injuries for Stoke
In what is turning out to be the story of the season for Stoke. Ibrahim Afellay tore his cruciate ligament in training on Friday and is set to miss up to eight months out. This is another blow to the Potters as Afellay has been impressive in Stoke's midfield and will be a huge miss for the rest of this campaign as well as the beginning of next.
Afellay has plenty of company in the Physio's room as he joins Xherdan Shaqiri, Glen Johnson, Jack Butland and Shay Given, who was substituted at half time, in the treatment room. Without these injuries there are no doubts that Stoke would find themselves in a better position than where they are at the moment.
However, nothing should be taken away City who were clinical and composed throughout. Manuel Pellegrini and his men could not have asked for a better match before they face Madrid. The Chilean was able to rest Kevin De Bruyne and substitute Aguero and Fernando early in the second half to avoid them picking up any injuries before Tuesday evening. It will also have added to the confidence of the team as they approach the biggest game of their season. For Hughes the headaches continue as he seeks to address his defensive shortcomings.