Manchester City entertain Stoke at the Etihad this Saturday, February 22, 2014, (7:00 AM Pacific, 15:00 GMT) as the fallout from the defeat in the Champions League against Barcelona continues to occupy the thoughts of Pellegrini and his assortment of stars.
City and Pellegrini may actually be glad to get back to playing in the League after a torrid lesson against the Spanish champions, in which they were made to look like the away side in their own back yard. This is a sight that hasn’t been witnessed at the Etihad this season, but of more concern was the lack of grace in which defeat was accepted. The manager questioning why a Swedish referee was allowed to take charge of the match, as well as various other incomprehensible outbursts were really rather unbecoming and slightly embarrassing.
For now though, City will be able to focus on trying to stay in touch with Chelsea and Arsenal, and the visit of Stoke could provide them with the opportunity to regain some of the form that has seen them usually so effective at home.
City are without a win or a goal in their last 2 league games and as much as it may be slightly premature to suggest that the cracks are starting to appear in the oil rich club’s season, the best tonic for steadying the ship would be a convincing victory.
As for Stoke, they have no breathing space above the bottom three, with only three points the difference, they’ve never won at the Etihad, and they haven’t won away from home in the league in 11 games, so perhaps the writing is on the wall for former City manager Mark Hughes. But football rarely plays out like that and Stoke can be encouraged by the 0-0 they managed earlier in the season against Yaya Toure and co.
Man City Team News
The headline is that Sergio Aguero will still be missing, as will Nastasic. This means that Jovetic may get the nod ahead of Dzeko to accompany Negredo upfront, while Demichelis will continue to accompany Kompany at the back. Nasri is pushing for a start after looking good coming from the bench in the last two games, and Milner could return to the fold after suspension in midweek.
Stoke City Team News
Oussama Assaidi Is out injured after the on-loan Liverpool player tore knee ligaments in Dubai this week. He will be out for six weeks. Guidetti is on-loan from Man City so won’t be featuring either. Matthew Etherington may return as Robert Huth continues his recovery from knee surgery.
Manchester City vs Stoke Prediction
After pretty much guaranteeing their own exit of the Champions League barring a miracle, City will be keen to rectify things and will see Stoke as an ideal team to play. It is unlikely that Mark Hughes will set them up to ‘have a go’ at the opposition, much more likely is that he will put five across the middle and attempt to keep things tight. If City can find a breakthrough early, this might end up as a cricket score, but if Stoke can show the discipline they have done at various points this season, they could stay in it. That said, it’s Man City for me. PREDICTION: Manchester City 2 – 0 Stoke City.
Manchester City vs Stoke Television
The match will be televised on Premier League Extra Time (US). Check LiveSoccerTV for all other countries.