Two tricky and extremely important away fixtures in 4 days kick off with a testing FA Cup Fourth Round mission to the Stoke cauldron…
‘After thirty years in Italy I think that I needed English football because I think that the supporters live for their club, and I think that to win here with Manchester City is totally different. When you build a house you start from the basement, and for me it was the same. When I arrived here three years ago the squad conceded a lot of goals every game and if you continue to concede goals you can’t win…I tried to change a training session, mental training and shape and this is not easy because I am here in England, different country, different culture for the players. My first six months was difficult because I didn’t know the championship, I didn’t know the players, I didn’t build that team – but after the first year we won the FA Cup. I think in that moment we changed our mentality.
‘…For two years, the first question is always Mario! Mario stays here. We didn’t have any requests about Mario or other players. Mario has another three years on his contract…we don’t have enough players. We are 18 players now. We can’t sell any players.’
‘I will name the strongest possible team available to me at the weekend because this is a game we really want to win. We have seen what this competition can do for a football club, and we are desperate to progress through to the next round if we can. We take the FA Cup incredibly seriously here, and that is reflected in the fact that we have lost just three of the last 18 games where have played in the competition; and even they were against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.’
‘Our thinking is that if you want to win the FA Cup, then you have to beat everyone anyway. The fact that we are taking more than 4,000 fans is really important because the Stoke fans make a lot of noise, but our supporters are brilliant and will give as good as they get when it comes to creating an atmosphere?the Britannia Stadium is not the easiest of venues to go to but if we can quieten the home crowd early on then so much the better…I’ve always enjoyed playing for this club since the first day I joined. We have unbelievable fans and a great stadium so it`s always been a pleasure for me to be a City player. I’ll always give 100% whether I’m having a good day or a bad day and that`s something the fans clearly appreciate. We’ll be doing our best to give them another day out at Wembley next May, that’s for certain.’
‘We know how difficult it is to play at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke are a well organised team but we are prepared for a physical battle. We will have to work on defending the long ball into the box but we have played against this kind of challenge before and I am confident that we are good enough to go there and win. We know about the bogey team tag and also the pitch tends to be narrower than usual at the Britannia Stadium, so we expect a tough 90 minutes. But Chelsea went there recently and won 4-0, so if we believe in our way of playing, work hard and play our football, I believe we can end our poor run of results at their ground.’
Stoke City Team News:
Stoke (from): Sorensen, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Upson, Whelan, Nzonzi, Walters, Kightly, Etherington, Jones, Sorensen, Whitehead, Crouch, Jerome, Adam, Palacios, Owen, Shotton, Begovic.
Player to watch: Asmir Begovic
If selected (Thomas Sorensen took the gloves for Stoke’s Third Round tussle with Crystal Palace) Begovic could have a key role against City. He’s a fine goalkeeper. The 25 year old Bosnian was bizarrely linked with City this past week as competition for England’s Joe Hart, but then again it was the average rag’s favourite Daily Mirror behind that story. Yet that rumour serves to highlight how the Stoke shot stopper’s stock continues to rise since his move from an imploding Portsmouth 3 years ago. Whoever Tony Pulis selects between the sticks, following three straight league defeats they will have to be on their toes with Sergio Aguero in predatory mode when every half chance will count.
Manchester City Team News:
Yaya Touré – international duty
Kolo Touré – international duty
Abdul Razak- international duty
LATE FITNESS TEST:
Samir Nasri – virus
City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Lescott, Kolarov, Clichy, Rekik, Silva, Milner, Sinclair, Barry, Garcia, Rodwell, Nasri, Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli, Dzeko.
Player to watch: James Milner
James Milner is on fire and running into the form of his life. The 27 year old’s signing from Aston Villa in August 2010 which saw the hapless Stephen Ireland bitterly depart in the opposite direction increasingly looks like one of the best pieces of business of the Mancini era. A training animal, Milly has added savvy to his experience and work rate, clearly thriving upon playing alongside some of the finest players in the world. His energy and willingness mirror that of Blues warrior Pablo Zabaleta and will be much needed at uncompromising Stoke.
Match Facts & Stats
THE NUMBERS GAME:
Stoke have lost 3 of their 5 matches since the beginning of the New Year.
City have never won at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League since the arena opened in 1997.
The Potters have lost only 1 of their last 11 games at the Britannia.
The Citizens have won 7 of their last 8 games, whereas Stoke have won only 2 in 8.
FORM LAST 6 GAMES ALL COMPETITIONS:
HEAD TO HEAD:
League: 30 Stoke Wins, 21 Draws, 37 City Wins
League Cup: 2 Stoke Wins, 1 Draw, 3 City Wins
FA Cup: 3 Stoke Wins, 1 Draw, 3 City Wins
Total: 35 Stoke Wins, 23 Draws, 44 City Wins
THIS COULD BE THE LAST TIME:
Tu 01Jan 2013 Man City 3 – 0 Stoke PL
Sa 15Sep 2012 Stoke 1 – 1 Man City PL
Sa 24Mar 2012 Stoke 1 – 1 Man City PL
We 21Dec 2011 Man City 3 – 0 Stoke PL
Tu 17May 2011 Man City 3 – 0 Stoke PL
Sa 14May 2011 Man City 1 – 0 Stoke FACSF
Sa 27Nov 2010 Stoke 1 – 1 Man City PL
TRAVEL ADVICE – ARRIVE EARLY:
Stoke City FC advise the following:
‘The Club are bracing themselves for snowfall forecast in the lead-up to the clash with the Premier League champions which has a 12.45pm kick-off. The message to supporters who are coming to the match is to give themselves plenty of time to get to their seats ahead of the early kick-off. There are still plenty of tickets remaining for the tie, while a high proportion of those already sold have been booked online or over the telephon?While the pitch itself is fine, an army of people will be clearing areas surrounding the stadium of any snow that does fall over the next 24 hours.’
BETTING: 5 Stoke 15/4 Draw 13/5 City 8/11 Racing Post Soccerbase
TV COVERAGE: ITV1/ HD
CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW THE GAME LIVE IN THE VMC FORUM
CLASSIC CITY TUBE: Manchester City v Stoke City, 29th March 1969
Howard Webb of South Yorkshire and Stretford 2011-2012 Record Across All Competitions: 51 Games, 167 Yellows, 5 Reds – Last Season With City: Sa 24Sep 2011 Man City 2 – 0 Everton PL, Sa 03Dec 2011 Man City 5 – 1 Norwich PL, Su 22Jan 2012 Man City 3 – 2 Tottenham PL, Sa 24Mar 2012 Stoke 1 – 1 Man City PL, Su 06May 2012 Newcastle 0 – 2 Man City PL – 2012-2013 Record So Far Across All Competitions: 25 Games, 87 Yellows, 3 Reds – This Season With City:Su 19Aug 2012 Man City 3 – 2 Southampton PL, Sa 03Nov 2012 West Ham 0 – 0 Man City PL
Johnny On The Spot:
City and Stoke have played each other with an increased regularity in recent seasons with the league and cup games following a familiar pattern. In Manchester, Stoke meekly rollover. At home, Tony Pulis tends to go for it with a 1-1 draw against his footballing nemesis being the usual outcome. Yet the signs are showing that with familarity, Roberto Mancini’s men are coming to terms with the batterings and clatterings they cop for in the Potteries. It’s widely accepted that when called upon, the champions know how to mix it. On this, the two clubs’ third meeting of the campaign, the reality of City’s European competition exit is biting and thus the stakes are higher for this game than would have ordinarily been expected at the start of the season. It’s this edge, backed by a 4,500 travelling cup support and greatly improved recent form that I believe will tip this cup tie in City’s favour. Importantly, The Blues need to come through this game unscathed and upbeat with QPR away inside 72 hours. Stoke 0 City 2
all times East Manchester
Tu 29Jan 19h45 QPR, Loftus Road, PL
Su 03Feb 16h00 Liverpool, The Etihad, PL
Sa 09Feb 17h30 Southampton, St Mary’s, PL
Su 24Feb 13h30 Chelsea, The Etihad, PL
Mo 04Mar 20h00 Aston Villa, Villa Park, PL
Sa 09Mar 15h00 Wigan, The Etihad, PL
Sa 16Mar 12h45 Everton, Goodison Park, PL
Sa 30Mar 15h00 Newcastle, The Etihad, PL