The last time Manchester City won away at Stoke City was January 1999 in the old Division 2. How times have changed and they travel south tomorrow as Premier League champions and in desperate need to overturn their Potters’ hoodoo (3pm BST, Saturday).
Man City have played away here for the last four years and it has not been easy for them. Stoke won their first match 1-0 and the last three games have been 1-1 draws.
Despite beating Stoke regularly at home, City have struggled to break down the typically physical and committed teams that Tony Pulis likes to select, especially at The Potters’ Britania Stadium.
Manchester City have made a reasonable start to the defence of their title, with two wins and a draw from their opening three matches, but they are far from hitting top form. City have enjoyed a fair bit of luck, and on another day they could quite easily have lost to Southampton on the opening day (a match they won 3-2). Then they almost lost against Liverpool, where they only had Daniel Agger to thank for a 2-2 draw.
City did sign a host of players in the transfer market, but they left it late to sign the stellar names we have come to expect from Mancini. Until the last day of the window, they only had Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair. As expected the cavalry arrived at the 11th hour, with Brazilian defender Maicon and Spanish midfielder Javi Martinez heading to the Etihad. These two signings were essential for Mancini, not just to strengthen his squad, but also to appease the fans after a summer of transfer disappointment.
Striker Sergio Aguerro is almost back and fit, having not played since the opening day. After sitting out Italy’s draw with Bulgaria on Friday, there may be a return for Mario Balotelli in partnering Carlos Tevez up front.
Practically the whole of City’s starting XI have been away on international duty over the last week. That could leave them tired and drained after two matches in four days. The other side of this coin is that Stoke’s players have not played for two weeks and may well be rusty.
Stoke have drawn all three of their opening matches to Reading, Arsenal and Wigan. They have failed to win any of their last eight competitive or friendly matches. Saying that, Stoke have only lost one of those, but that was to Swindon in the League Cup when they went down 4-3 after extra time.
Stoke did manage to bring in two players of real quality right at the end of the transfer window in Steven Nzonzi and Charlie Adam. Both will be looking to make their home debuts on Saturday along with Maurice Ed, who moved from Rangers earlier in the summer. Potters’ fans will also be eagerly anticipating the debut of Michael Owen in a Stoke shirt.
Stoke v Man City Betting Tips Verdict
Historically this fixture has often resulted in a draw. Now with both sides having real quality up front, we are unlikely to see another tight 1-1 result. Without Sergia Aguerro, fellow Argentine Carlos Tevez has really stepped into the role and taken responsibility, and his influence may give City their first win at Stoke in over 13 years.