Manchester City looks to continue their strong start as they welcome Stoke City to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. City is coming off of a comfortable win against Liverpool, while Stoke look to recover from an embarrassing 1-1 draw against a 10-man Hull City squad.
Last Season’s Results
The prospect of a trip to Manchester is not a welcoming proposition for any Premier League squad these days (that is to a say, a trip to the east side of Manchester), and given Stoke’s away record last season, which was the 3rd poorest in the Premier League, this looks like an easy win for the Blues. City has beaten Stoke at home the last five times they have played, with an aggregate score of 12-0. However, in their last meeting Stoke played entirely behind the ball and tried to wait the match out. This strategy caused a lot of issues for the Blues, and the match would have ended in a draw if it weren’t for a solo strike from Yaya Toure, leading to a 1-0 win.
The striking trifecta of Dzeko, Jovetic, and Aguero look to be the keys to this game. Dzeko picked up a knock in the Liverpool game, but it appears as if he will be fit for this match. Aguero also looks to be near full health again, and his 23-second goal against Liverpool shows his current electric form. Stevan Jovetic completes this intriguing puzzle. The Montenegrin has netted twice for City to start the season, and has been taking full advantage of the minutes he has been given due to Aguero’s lack of fitness. Strong passing and a poacher’s mentality have led to Jovetic being one of the best players on the squad throughout the preseason and into league play. Aguero will reclaim the top strikers spot as soon as Pelligrini deems him ready, but it remains to be seen if Jovetic has done enough to bypass Dzeko and earn the secondary striker position.
Whichever two that Pelligrini decide to start will have the task of poking through the wall of Potters that Mark Hughes is sure to build across the pitch. I expect that it will be Jovetic and Dzeko to start this match up, and if the two tall strikers can match their previous form, the partnership will be the key to City’s victory.
Match-up to Watch
Stoke City newcomer Bojan Krkic and striker Mame Diouf will be lining up against the powerful central defending duo of Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis. In Stoke’s previous matchup against Hull they attacked straight up the middle and we can expect to see this duo pick this path again on the imminent counter-attack style offense that will be employed. While the gulf in the class between City’s backline and Hull’s is large, I do expect some scoring chances for Stoke, and given City’s affinity for yellow cards these two should also factor into a handful of set pieces. In what figures to be a slow and methodical game, I expect Bojan and Diouf’s encounters with Kompany and Demichelis to be energetic and lively and possibly the only bright spot for the Potters at the end of the match.
In a repeat of last year’s performance, Yaya Toure brings his sledgehammer of a right foot to break down the Potter wall first, Shawcross heads one past Hart early in the second half, and Aguero subs on in the 70th and scores with Usain Bolt like speed.
Manchester City 2-1 Stoke