Morning all. When the draw for round four of the FA Cup was made, it would be fair to say that this tie caught the eye of many people. After all, these two battled it out in the final back in 2011. Let's hope they can produce a decent spectacle today.
As mentioned in the introduction, a goal from Yaya Toure was enough for Man City to claim the trophy for the first time since 1969. The Ivorian actually scored against Manchester United in the semi-finals as well and it was those contributions that have cemented him as a City hero.
It's not all gone in City's favour where the FA Cup is concerned though. During the previous season to their success, they were dumped out of the competition by Stoke. The first match ended in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium, while the return at the Britannia also finished with the same scoreline. However, the Potters ran out 3-1 winners in extra time.
Arguably the biggest news to come from those lineups is the fact that Joe Hart has not been included for Man City. The England goalkeeper has been rested and will start on the bench, with Carlos Pantilimon taking up the role between the posts. Carlos Tevez will also partner Edin Dzeko in attack.
From a Stoke point of view, their regular number one goalkeeper Asmir Begovic also misses out. Is that because he has been linked with a move to today's opponent perhaps? Either way, Thomas Sorensen will keep goal for the Potters. Elsewhere, Kenwyne Jones has been included in the team despite reports of a transfer to Swansea City.
Those of you who like a flutter, it looks as though a 1-1 draw is a fairly safe bet today. The last five matches at the Britannia have ended with that scoreline. There surely can not be any other two clubs that can say that! It's probably a sequence of results that both managers would like to see end today in all honesty. Neither is going to want a replay.
Talking of Crouch, he no longer appears to be the flavour of the month for Stoke boss Tony Pulis. He had been first-choice following his arrival from Tottenham Hotspur last season. However, over the last few weeks, Pulis appears to favour the likes of Walters, Jones and Cameron Jerome to lead the Stoke line. It's a strange one, because Crouch is a proven goalscorer in the English game.
What's more, Man City have not won away at Stoke in their last six attempts. In fact, their last victory against today's hosts came back in January 1999. Amazingly, that encounter was a second division clash. Oh how times have changed - for both clubs!
It seems mad to think that Man City were a third tier club not so long ago doesn't it? Funnily enough, Stoke boss Tony Pulis was involved in one of the biggest matches in City's history. He was in charge of Gillingham when they lost on penalties to the Citizens during the 1999 second division playoffs. Had the Gills won that match, who knows where City would be now?
Staying with Pulis, his Stoke team have uncharacteristically shipped 13 goals in their last four Premier League games. For a team that is usually watertight, it's rather surprising and Pulis has conceded that he is concerned by that.
"We've got really sloppy in the last few weeks," he said. "I think we have conceded six goals from set-pieces, first or second phase, and that's not like us. We have gone through the reasons and the lads will know and understand what they have to do and not do."
Despite the fact that these two are both in the Premier League, it would be classed as an FA Cup upset if Stoke win today, wouldn't it? I know the Britannia is a hard place to go to, but with the squad at Mancini's disposal, you wouldn't expect them to be knocked out here.
If City are to make the most of their favourites tag, midfielder James Milner believes that the travelling faithful will play a big part in that happening.
"Our thinking is, if you want to win the FA Cup, you have to beat everyone anyway," he said. "The fact we're taking more than 4,000 fans is really important because the Stoke supporters make a lot of noise."
Right, here come the players to a rather loud reception from the crowd. Fair play to those that have paid their money to watch this one because it looks pretty nippy out there! Not long until we are off and running at the Britannia.
CHANCE! Wakey, wakey Stoke! The home side fell asleep at a corner, which was worked short to David Silva. The City midfielder took aim from the edge of the area, but fired well over the crossbar. The little Spaniard is capable of much better than that.
It's not been the greatest of starts by Stoke. Having been let off by Silva earlier, a quick break up the field ends with full-back Ryan Shotton over-hitting a cross that goes for a Man City throw. Pulis does not look a happy man at all.
SAVE! Silva is beginning to pull the strings for City now. He just threaded a pass through to Tevez, who in turn struck the ball towards the near post. Thankfully for Stoke, Sorensen got across his line to palm the low effort away from danger.
While City have looked pretty comfortable so far, one player that has looked a little suspect is their back-up goalkeeper Pantilimon. On three occasions he has been given the ball to his feet and each time he has sent the ball out of play. Stoke have got to try and test him soon.
CHANCE! At last Stoke have an effort at goal. It's Robert Huth who rises highest inside the City area, but under pressure from James Milner, the German defender only succeeds in heading the ball over the crossbar. Still, it is a sign of intent from the home side that had been lacking.
OFF THE POST! For some reason, Stoke seem to think it is okay to give Silva a lot of time and space inside their area. Having had one warning earlier, the City midfielder collected a quick free kick from Milner, before curling the ball against the post. The rebound was cleared but Stoke are riding their luck at the moment.
CHANCE! City should now really be 1-0 up. Milner and Gareth Barry link to play in Tevez, but the Argentine goes for power over placement and only manages to lift the ball over the bar from 10 yards out. Had he showed a little more composure there, he'd surely have scored.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Ryan Shawcross buries to ball into the City net from close range, but his celebrations are cut short as the linesman raises his flag for offside. Replays show that as Huth had the initial shot, the Stoke defender was indeed too far forward. Correct decision.
Up the other end, both Shawcross and Huth prove their worth by managing to block a low shot from Tevez. If City don't take a lead into the break, you get the impression that Mancini will dish out a few stern words.
BOOKING! First yellow card of the afternoon goes to Man City's Aleksandar Kolarov, who blatantly hauls down Jonathan Walters 20 yards from goal. The Serbian knew that he couldn't argue that one. The resultant free kick is wasted by Glenn Whelan.
Strangely, Mancini and his assistant David Platt do not seem to be in a rush to replace Kompany. He has also already limped off down the tunnel, but no replacement has been selected yet. You'd think it's something that the management would want to address quickly.
SUBSTITUTION: Some six minutes after Kompany exited the field, Gael Clichy has finally entered the action. It looks as though City have now gone to three at the back, with Kolarov now operating as left-wing back. It will be interesting to see if Stoke can take advantage of any uncertainty that the tactical change has caused.
CHANCE! The switch certainly hasn't hampered City's ability to create chances. A cross from Kolarov is flicked wide of the target by Edin Dzeko, but Tevez can not turn the ball goalwards from a narrow angle. Another opportunity bites the dust.
Well, it's not been the best 45 minutes of football you will see this season, that's for sure. Tony Pulis should be the happier of the two managers because his side have been second best throughout, yet they are level.
On the other hand, Mancini could well have a few choice words for his players. The performance has been good, but they haven't stuck the ball in the net. If they continue that level of performance in the second half, they should win this. However, the danger is that Stoke could nick a goal against the run of play.
The injury to Kompany may also have a big impact after the restart. Not only is he City's captain and key defender, they have now gone to three at the back - a formation that drew a large amount of criticism when Mancini tried it earlier in the season.
The stats after 45 minutes tell you that Stoke have had two shots on target, although I'm struggling to recall either! Meanwhile, City have sent in seven shots, four of which have forced Sorensen into action. They've also had 57% of the possession.
Stoke's Whelan is a lucky boy because he really shouldn't be on the pitch. The Irish midfielder jumped into a challenge with Javi Garcia and caught the Man City player with both of his feet. What surely saved him from seeing red was the fact that Howard Webb's view of the incident was slightly blocked. That's a horrible challenge.
BOOKING! Stoke's Shotton is the player who gets his name taken down, despite the fact that he appeared to get the ball from a challenge with Tevez. It's not been the best start to the second half by referee Webb.
If truth be told, the start of this half has been slower than the first! Got to confess, I didn't think that was possible! Neither side has called either keeper into action yet and we've played 11 minutes.
CHANCE! Despite the poor start to the half, City have been the more positive side and went close to taking the lead just a moment ago. Dzeko crossed from the right for Kolarov, but the full-back stabbed the ball wide of the target while under pressure from Shawcross.
SUBSTITUTION: And that was Kolarov's last involvement in the tie. He has been replaced by Sergio Aguero, which is a rather attack-minded switch by Mancini. The City boss obviously wants to win this match today.
CHANCE! The first we've seen of Aguero so far as he plays in Tevez on the edge of the area. The striker managed to wriggle free and work himself enough space for a shot, but his effort was always rising and posed little danger to the Stoke goal.
SUBSTITUTION: A double switch for the home team as Dean Whitehead and Peter Crouch come on in place of Wilkinson and Jones. Can Crouch produce another magic moment against City? This match certainly needs something like that to happen. Although a shot on target would do!
CHANCE! Very, very close from Dzeko. A shot from the left side of the area did not look to be on, but he managed to bend the ball towards the target. Unfortunately for the Bosnian and City, his effort took a deflection and went just wide.
CHANCE! It may not have been on target, but Stoke have had an effort at goal! Shotton sent over a cross from the left to the back post, where Crouch was lurking. He timed his jump slightly wrong though and only managed to head over the crossbar.
What a goal from Pablo Zabaltea. The right-back started the move by winning possession deep in his own half. Having given the ball to a teammate, he kept on running forwards. When Aguero finally turned the ball into the area, Zabaleta was waiting to fire low beyond Sorensen from close range. City deserve that, they've been the better side.
SUBSTITUTION: It looks as though Mancini is looking to hold onto the lead now as he takes off Carlos Tevez and brings on Jack Rodwell, who has had a long spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
CHANCE! Oh dear Jerome. A long throw from Shotton eventually finds the Stoke striker, but any composure appears to have evaded him as he sends an effort into row Z from just 10 yards out. Stoke now have five minutes of stoppage time to save themselves.
At the moment City are cruising into the fifth round. They're keeping the ball very well, while Stoke run around in the hope of stealing back possession. It's all getting a little desperate at the Britannia.
Well that was much easier for Man City than the scoreline suggests. The visitors were the better side by a long way and deserve their slot in round five of the competition. Disappointingly for Stoke, they never got going and posed very little threat throughout the 90 minutes.