Manchester City host Stoke City in the Premier League on 23 April (Saturday) as the Citizens look to go above Arsenal in the league table. The Citizens may be forgiven for not chasing the game with the seriousness it deserves, especially with a Champions League semi-final lined up against Real Madrid in the mid-week.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 12:45pm BST. Live coverage of the game will be on Sky Sports 1 anf Sky Sports 1 HD.
Manchester City have taken full advantage of Arsenal's slump over the last two weekends, taking only two points from a possible six, which has allowed City to close the gap on the Gunners and reclaim a spot in the top four, which will let them make it into the Champions League next season without having to go through a qualifier. However, they suffered a blow midweek with their game against Newcastle United ending in a draw, which has made it a must win affair for the 2013/14 Champions at the Etihad against Stoke.
City are unlikely to bank on themselves winning the Champions League and are likely to give a good account of themselves against Stoke, who have been in horrid form off late. David Silva is expected to be back for the Citizens after missing the last few games and will give a massive boost to Manuel Pellegrini, who will be desperate to bow out after winning the trophy that has been eluding them for years on end.
Meanwhile, Stoke City have been in horrendous form in the league, conceding eight and scoring only once in their last two games in all competitions. They are well on course to finish in the top half of the table, currently in ninth spot, with only four points behind Southampton and seven behind seventh placed Liverpool.
However, manager Mark Hughes has to make sure that they get back in form, especially having seen an under strength Liverpool side beat them with consummate ease at Anfield, while Tottenham also put four past them without much hassle. They have the fifth worst form record in the division, taking only five points from their last six games in the league.
What managers say
Manuel Pellegrini: "It's very important because we're in the semi-finals but that doesn't mean we're not worried about the Premier League. All the big teams must always try and reach the final and be involved domestically to try to win it. For us it's very important to get a spot for the Champions League next year. Sergio is very important but I'm sure Real Madrid will play their best team [at Real Vallecano on Saturday] also because they are going for the league. So we are going to win that game [Stoke] with our best players."
Mark Hughes: "We've had disappointing results and performances of late, and we always deal with the here and now, but obviously, psychologically, we know we can go to the big clubs and big stadiums and perform. We have done that in the past. And I think the fact it's Man City away allows us to really focus. We know even if we were in fantastic form, it would still be a huge challenge for us. I think it's good that, under any circumstances, it's a challenging fixture for us. Maybe if we were going up against a team we were expected to win against easily while on a dip in form, it would be more difficult to deal with. We have sat down and talked about what we need to do better, and my feeling is we will be fine at the weekend and back to what we know we need to do well to be able to win Premier League games."
Betting odds (betfair)
- Manchester City Win: 2/7
- Draw: 9/2
- Stoke City Win: 11
Possible XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov; Fernando, Delph; Toure, Nasri, Silva; Aguero
Possible XI: Haugaard; Cameron, Shawcross, Wollschied, Muniesa; Whelan, Imbula; Shaqiri, Afellay Arnautovic; Bojan