The last five matches between these two have yielded just six goals—but this Peter Crouch worldy was one of them. Mark Hughes has quietly assembled a fearsome attacking quartet in Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Bojan and Afellay—all have plenty still to prove but the talent is impressive. The onus will be on Stoke to attack and create since this team doesn’t have the defensive solidity of seasons past. City for their part will be looking to pick themselves off the floor and get back into the title fight. Without Kompany the Citizens look less and less assured, and the injury list has grown long in the past few weeks. David Silva’s return has come at a good time.
Otamendi suffered a painful start to his Manchester City career, being on the losing side in his first three games for the Citizens. He helped his side rack up some great form until the whole thing unravelled against Liverpool. Otamendi was left out of the side, ostensibly to save him for City’s European outing later in the week—and in his absence Mangala and Demichelis were ripped to shreds by Firmino and Coutinho. Pellegrini is sure to recall the star defender with two MotM awards in seven appearances so far this season. Facing this expansive Stoke side means City will probably have to grind out a win with some sound defending.
The Spanish wizard of the Etihad is back to add to his six assists in five starts. Whilst Kevin De Bruyne has done admirably in Silva’s absence, the two of them playing together ought to be worth the ticket price. Silva makes an average of three key passes per game, and with a forward line that includes Sterling and Aguero it’s difficult to imagine City failing to score here. Such is Silva’s influence on the field that if he manages to stay fit now his team have a good chance of retaining their Premier League title.
Having found his way back to health after a dreadful injury, Bojan has been getting amongst the goals again too. For a player who famously broke all the La Masia records set by Lionel Messi, Bojan has taken the long way round. For a while it was imagined that the Spaniard would be Barcelona’s (and Spain’s) long term forward. Things may not have turned out that way, but Bojan is looking more and more comfortable in Stoke’s colours. He has 3 goals in 9 starts this season and will hope he can help Stoke take a huge scalp at the Britannia.
The Swiss star has played for Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, and was linked heavily with Liverpool only to wind up at Stoke. It’s obviously a strange career trajectory, dogged by question marks over attitude, but Stoke seems to be a good fit for developing attackers nowadays. He ought to do well against a City defence still reeling from Liverpool’s drubbing.