MX23RW : Wednesday, September 26 13:20:46
Oct 14, 2017 at 3pm UK at ​Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 54,128
Man CityManchester City
StokeStoke City
Jesus (17', 56'), Sterling (19'), Silva (27'), Fernandinho (60'), Sane (62'), Silva (79')
FT(HT: 3-1)
Biram Diouf (44'), Walker (47' og.)
Afellay (92')

Preview: Manchester City vs. Stoke City

Sports Mole previews Saturday afternoon's Premier League meeting between Manchester City and Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City play host to Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, aiming to continue their impressive start to the season that has seen them remain unbeaten so far.

The Citizens have won nine and drawn one of their 10 games in all competitions, keeping them on course for silverware on multiple fronts in Pep Guardiola's second campaign at the helm.

Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne is mobbed by teammates after scoring during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester City on September 30, 2017© Offside

Guardiola had been keen to play down his side's winning run of form in the days leading up to the international break, stressing that the campaign was just a couple of months old at the time.

The 1-0 victory away to defending champions Chelsea last time out changed all that, though, as City claimed top spot on goal difference to send out a serious message to their rivals

Not only can the Citizens brush aside the lesser lights, they can also get the job done against the sides that are expected to be around them come next May, as witnessed when holding 62% of the possession at Stamford Bridge in a game that they dominated pretty much from start to finish.

That triumph gave Guardiola his first win over Chelsea in nine attempts, excluding a penalty shootout victory when in charge of Bayern Munich, and ensured that the two-time champions would sit top of the pile for the two-week break thanks to a superior goal difference over rivals Manchester United.

Guardiola rightly pointed out that City won 10 from 10 in his first season in English football, compared to nine from 10 this time around, but the Citizens look far more balanced compared to 12 months ago and appear to have the ability to see this title challenge right the way through.

After strengthening his squad in the summer, particularly in the full-back department, Guardiola has now built a side capable of competing on numerous fronts. The litmus test will come in the month of October, as City embark on a run of four successive home games in three different competitions.

Games against Stoke and Burnley present a chance to stick more points and, worryingly for the opposition, goals on the board, while Napoli and Wolverhampton Wanderers also visit in the Champions League and EFL Cup over the next few weeks.

A perfect blend of attack and defence, City conceded just one goal in the month of September in all competitions - coming against West Bromwich Albion in the EFL Cup - with six clean sheets from a possible seven.

Twenty-five goals were scored at the other end of the field during that winning run at a rate of 3.5 a game, rightly maintaining the Citizens' tag as title favourites at this still-early stage in proceedings.

Recent form in Premier League: DWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Stoke City

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting celebrates opening the scoring during the Premier League game between Stoke City and Manchester United on September 9, 2017© SilverHub

Stoke make the trip to the Etihad Stadium on the back of a rather underwhelming run of results, although the difficulty of their fixtures thus far must be factored in.

Ex-City boss Mark Hughes saw his side end their five-match run without victory last time out when edging out Southampton 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium, secured thanks to a Peter Crouch goal in the final five minutes - his third of the campaign in just seven outings.

Scoring goals has not been all that easy for the Potters on the whole, though, having found the net more than once in a game on just a couple of occasions so far in the Prem this season.

Stoke have fared well against the division's elite sides, though, becoming the only team so far to take points off Man United in a 2-2 draw last month, while also beating Arsenal 1-0 on home soil to maintain their impressive record against the Gunners.

Chelsea may have thrashed the Potters 4-0 a few weeks back, but Hughes will take confidence from those previous results as his side seek back-to-back league wins for the first time since early December 2016, seeing their eight victories since then rather spread out.

Maintaining a solid streak of form is the next task for Hughes, who rightly pointed out before the two-week hiatus that October looks a little less daunting for his men once they get this trip to the league leaders over and done with.

With Bournemouth, Watford, Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace to come before the visit of Liverpool at the end of November, Stoke's current standing of 13th may look a lot healthier this time next month.

First up is the challenge of Guardiola's in-form side and, having kept just one clean sheet all campaign, City may have to take a step back before taking a couple of steps forward.

Recent form in Premier League: WDDLLW
Recent form (all competitions): DDLLLW

Team News

Gabriel Jesus celebrates the third with Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling during the Premier League game between Watford and Manchester City on September 16, 2017© Offside

Sergio Aguero made an early return to training this week after suffering a broken rib in a car accident in Amsterdam shortly before the international break, which it was initially feared would rule him out for around six weeks.

The Argentine striker will almost certainly sit out Saturday's match, however, and Benjamin Mendy is another who will face time on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury.

There is better news elsewhere, as Fabian Delph appears ready to feature despite withdrawing from the England side, and both Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan have shaken off injury complaints to take a place in the matchday squad.

Stoke are still without captain Ryan Shawcross, who has been absent since the end of August with a back injury, meaning that Kurt Zouma, Geoff Cameron and Kevin Wimmer will likely partner up at the back.

Cameron is himself doubtful, though, as he is not due to return from international duty with the United States until Friday, while Wales midfielder Joe Allen left the field early against Republic of Ireland with concussion and will be assessed.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Delph, Otamendi, Stones, Walker; D.Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Sane, Jesus, Sterling

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Butland; Wimmer, Cameron, Zouma; Pieters, Fletcher, Allen, Diouf; Choupo-Moting, Shaqiri; Jese

Head To Head

Man City have won just half of their Premier League meetings against Stoke, prevailing in nine of the previous 18 encounters and drawing six.

The most recent fixture finished goalless at the Etihad Stadium in March as the Citizens' title challenge continued to stutter, dropping more points against a side outside of the top six.

Stoke have failed to score in eight of their nine Prem visits to this ground, meanwhile - only against Aston Villa have Man City kept more clean sheets on home soil (9).

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City

The league leaders are on fire right now and do not look likely to drop points anytime soon, especially against a side they have scored four goals against in three of the last five meetings. Stoke have also lost 15 of their last 16 away top-flight matches against teams who started that day in top spot, which will surely be the case once again on their latest visit to the Etihad Stadium.

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Mark Hughes watches on during the Premier League game between Stoke City and Manchester United on September 9, 2017
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