MX23RW : Monday, February 18 19:18:04
Mar 12, 2018 at 8pm UK at ​bet365 Stadium
Attendance: 29,138
StokeStoke City
Man CityManchester City
FT(HT: 0-1)
Silva (10', 50')

Preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Manchester City's top-flight trip to relegation-threatened Stoke City.

Manchester City head to Stoke City on Monday night seeking a win that will keep them on course to lift the Premier League title at home to arch-rivals Manchester United next month.

The runaway leaders require victories in their next two games, away to Stoke and Everton either side of the international break, to set up a "special" afternoon at the Etihad Stadium on April 7.

Stoke City

Paul Lambert in charge of Aston Villa in February 2015© Offside

Stoke will have ideas of their own in this final Premier League contest of matchday 30, though, as they are deep in relegation trouble and in desperate need of at least a point.

The Potters remain 19th after the rest of the weekend's matches and are one point adrift of Southampton in 17th, although their terrible goal difference - the worst in the division - effectively leaves them requiring a couple of points to climb above the dotted line.

Those three successive ninth-placed finishes under former boss Mark Hughes now seem a long time ago, with the Potters at serious threat of seeing their decade-long spell in the top flight come to an end following a hugely disappointing campaign to date.

Paul Lambert's arrival in the middle of January has stabilised things slightly, but Stoke's form since then is rather mixed to say the least - one win in six or one defeat in six, depending on how you look at it.

That is because five matches in that spell have ended all square, including in each of their last three outings against Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City and Southampton, with the latter being heralded as a positive point by Lambert last weekend.

Stoke performed well defensively at St Mary's to ensure that their opponents are still within touching distance, but it remains to be seen whether the Staffordshire-based club have it in them to get to the 40-point mark - usually seen as being enough to ensure safety.

With games against Man City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool to come in their remaining nine fixtures, the pressure is on Lambert's men to get the job done against the likes of Everton and West Ham United over the next month.

One win in 10, though, and a failure to score in five of their last nine, means that Lambert - third choice to take charge at the start of the year - has his work cut out if he is to lift City above the dotted line and then keep them afloat.

Recent form in Premier League: WDLDDD

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola applauds during the Premier League game between Manchester City and West Ham United on December 3, 2017© SilverHub

Even if Man City do drop points prior to that home league match with Man United in a month's time, Pep Guardiola's men are still on course to win the title in record-breaking style following a pretty incredible campaign thus far.

Just four times have the Citizens dropped points across their opening 29 matches, and they head to the bet365 Stadium on the back of a challenging but successful week that saw them lift the EFL Cup and take six points from six against Arsenal and Chelsea in the league.

The midweek loss to Basel did suggest that fatigue could become an issue after challenging on four fronts of late, perhaps explaining Guardiola's decision to take his squad to Abu Dhabi straight after Monday's match, with a three-week gap between matches.

That break has come at the right time for City, as they will return refreshed - those who are not overused in international friendlies, at least - ready for the final stretch of the campaign, when looking to add the Champions League to the EFL Cup and Premier League.

Lifting a third top-flight crown in six years seems a formality at this stage, having collected 16 points from the last 18 on offer since going down 4-3 to Liverpool at Anfield two months ago, leaving them 13 points clear at the top with a game in hand to play.

No wonder the Citizens are being considered one of the all-time great Premier League sides, then, and there would be a disappointment if they were to fall short in the Champions League, with two more teams to overcome before May's final in Kiev.

The good news for Stoke, however, is that Man City have not won back-to-back league games on their travels since December, as they have been held by both Crystal Palace and Burnley since then, while also losing to Liverpool in that memorable match.

Recent form in Premier League: WWDWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWWL

Team News

Raheem Sterling celebrates with Sergio Aguero after scoring during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Leicester City on February 10, 2018© Offside

Stoke are expected to be without Mame Biram Diouf following the Senegal international's awkward fall in last weekend's stalemate with Southampton, so Peter Crouch may be handed a 10th start of the league campaign up top.

Kevin Wimmer and Saido Berahino have both been sent on individual programmes to improve their fitness, meanwhile, and will continue to be monitored ahead of this match.

City's other absentees include goalkeeper Lee Grant and former Citizens midfielder Stephen Ireland, though Ryan Shawcross returned to the matchday squad last time out.

In terms of the visitors, Sergio Aguero is likely to be given the nod over Gabriel Jesus through the middle as the Brazilian youngster is still being eased back into action.

Aguero has eight goals in eight meetings with Stoke, including back-to-back braces at this ground, and is one shy of 200 goals for City in all competitions.

Elsewhere, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling may return following their layoffs with hamstring injuries, keeping them sidelined for two matches and a month respectively, and David Silva is back from his latest compassionate leave.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Butland; Bauer, Shawcross, Zouma, Stafylidis; Cameron, Ndiaye; Shaqiri, Allen, Choupo-Moting; Crouch

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Gundogan, D.Silva; B.Silva, Aguero, Sane

Head To Head

Man City have won on two of their last three visits to the bet365 Stadium, both by a 4-1 scoreline, but those are their only victories in nine Premier League away games against the Potters.

The Citizens won the reverse match 7-2 in October and are now seeking a first double of any sort in this fixture since 1998-99 when in the third tier.

That match was the second time Man City have scored seven goals in a Premier League game, and the second time that the Potters have shipped that number of times in a single match - also vs. Chelsea in 2010.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Stoke City 0-2 Manchester City

Guardiola's men appear to be over the shock of exiting the FA Cup at the hands of Wigan Athletic last month and remain on course for a famous treble. Three wins from their next three games will be enough to get them over the line in the Premier League, with this the most straightforward of the lot on paper.

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Kevin Wimmer in action during the Premier League game between Stoke City and Manchester United on September 9, 2017
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