Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Manchester City vs Stoke City: Match Preview

They say that there are games which define a team's season and it seems like last Sunday was one of them games for Manchester City. After a recent Champions League exit and succumbing to their first defeat of the campaign, Sunday's game against Arsenal was a must win fixture to help keep top spot coming into a very busy Christmas period.

Silva celebrates netting City's 50th goal of the season
It was possibly one of the most entertaining games of the season, and is proving why the games between the big teams are starting to give a good picture of the quality of this league.

However, many expect that tonight's game against FA Cup runners up Stoke City will be much more straight forward for the Blues. 2011 has been a great year for Manchester City, especially at home, where they have dropped just two points, which was against Fulham earlier this year.

So, with all this taken into context, it would be a great shock if Stoke could pull of a positive result here tonight. The home side have been in scintillating form so far this season whilst Stoke's form has been very inconsistent due to their participation in the Europa League, evidenced by heavy defeats at Sunderland and Bolton.

The worrying news for Stoke fans is that they are facing a team that have scored 50 goals in 16 games, which was last matched 49 years ago. And when you have conceded at least three goals on more than five occasions, you have to worry for the away side if the league leaders get an early goal.

Man City will be boosted by the news that Gael Clichy returns from his suspension, but he will have to perform well after Pablo Zabaleta's man of the match performance against Arsenal when he filled the void left by Clichy. Edin Dzeko is also expected to start after shaking off the knock he picked up in training.

Stoke's defence will be significantly weaker tonight, as captain Ryan Shawcross misses out due to picking up five yellow cards this season, whilst Vincent Kompany is set to make his 150th appearance for Manchester City.

Stoke are also missing Glenn Whealan and Andy Wilkinson, both of whom have been very influential for the Potters this season.

One player City will have to watch out for is Peter Crouch, who is one goal away from 100 career goals, and his presence will certainly be felt by City's backline. Can Stoke City make it five wins in a row in the Premier League and create a new club record? It seems unlikely.

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