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Prediction: Stoke vs Manchester City

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 7/10

Bookmaker: William Hill

Stoke City will have something to build on when they host star-studded Manchester City side at their Britannia Stadium, having held newly-promoted Middlesbrough to a 1-1 draw at the Riverside. Man City, on the other hand, hammered Steaua in midweek, but chances are they will face a much tougher task at the weekend.

Stoke

Even if Tony Pulis had exceeded expectations in terms of results at the Britannia Stadium, he was still replaced with Mark Hughes as the club owners wanted the team to become more entertaining. The Welshman has since proved to be the right choice as he managed to transform the team’s style of play while ensuring the results do not suffer, turning Stoke City into a genuine top table side. What is more, the club have started to attract high-profile footballers such as Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen, so it looks as though the only way is up for the Potters. With quite a few of their star players taking part at the Euro 2016 finals, Stoke City have yet the hit the ground running, but they did well to bring one point from the Riverside, coming from a goal down. Assistant coach Mark Bowen has revealed that the coaching staff wants the likes of Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnautovic to be more direct against Manchester City, and that is enough to suggest we will see an entertaining game of football at Britannia. Team’s build-up play should be more fluid if Joe Allen starts the match, meaning Stoke will stand a good chance of not only scoring, but also upsetting their more illustrious opponents.

Team News

Joe Allen was left on the bench against Middlesbrough as he still lacks match fitness, but he could be in the starting line-up this weekend.

Jack Butland’s ankle injury is not as serious as first feared, but Mark Hughes could decide against risking the England international vs Man City.

Manchester City

Even if the club have enjoyed plenty of success in recent years, the arrival of Pep Guardiola clearly marks the beginning of a new era at Etihad Stadium. The Spaniard has clear ideas how he wants his teams to play and provided the players can adapt to the changes quickly enough, his teams become ruthless up front and don’t even have to worry about defending all that much since they enjoy lion’s share of possession. Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne admitted the players had problems with the new responsibilities against Sunderland, but everything looked much better against Steaua, who surprisingly adopted a positive approach, leaving their back line too exposed at times. As a result, Man City not only scored five in Bucharest, but could have added few more with Sergio Aguero missing two penalties, albeit scoring a hat-trick to correct his mistakes. The game against physical Stoke City side will be a great test for Pep Guardiola’s men, and we don’t think the Citizens will have an easy job at the Britannia, although the opponents’ direct approach is likely to help them win the ball back quickly and launch swift counterattacks.

Team News

It remains to be seen whether Nicolas Otamendi will be fit enough to play two games in a short period of time, meaning Aleksandar Kolarov could play alongside John Stones at the back.

Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy should return to the side, but Vincent Kompany, Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane continue to miss out.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Stoke City won the same fixture 2-0 last season
  • Their five of last seven EPL meetings at Britannia ended all squared
  • Man City scored eight goals in last three matches vs Stoke
  • Both teams scored in four of Stoke’s last five home games
  • Man City are winless in last three away fixtures in EPL

Conclusion

Stoke City can be quite dangerous up front, especially at their Britannia Stadium and no doubts they will be looking to attack Man City from the off. Buoyed by the 5-0 hammering of Steaua, the visitors will be hoping to record another convincing triumph and chances are we will see goals galore on Saturday afternoon.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 7/10

Bookmaker: William Hill

Fri 19 Aug, 2016
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