Champions Manchester City welcome 2013 with the visit of Stoke City. The Etihad club are looking to bridge a seven point gap to Premier League leaders Manchester United. The Potters, meanwhile are looking to extend a hugely impressive 10-game unbeaten run in the league.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is set for 3 pm GMT. Catch highlights on Match of the Day, on BBC One and BBC One HD at 10.25 pm GMT.
Roberto Mancini will not have pleasant memories of the last time these sides met. The Potters may have held his side to a 1-1 draw but it was the blatant handball by ex-Liverpool striker Peter Crouch, in the build-up to the first goal of the match, which grabbed all the attention. A furious Mancini then publicly blasted the player, the referee and the incident, likening the incident to a basketball match.
City come into this game on the back of a stirring 4-3 win over Norwich City on Saturday, with the Canaries forcing their visitors to work for all three points. Bosnian international Edin Dzeko and French playmaker made the headlines after the match, with a brace and a controversial red card respectively.
The champions are presently seven points off arch-rivals and table toppers Manchester United; last week's shock 1-0 defeat to Sunderland did not help matters at all. The good news, though, is that City's home form has been good this season. Mancini has won seven of 10 games at the Etihad this season, with United the only side to have beaten them.
Meanwhile, Tony Pulis' side enjoyed a brilliant first half of the season and the fact they are now eighth and only four points off a UEFA Europa League position is just reward. The Potters came back from 3-1 down at half-time to salvage a 3-3 draw against Southampton on Saturday. The result extended their unbeaten run to 10 games; the last time they lost a match was in the first week of November, when Norwich beat them 1-0 at Carrow Road.
Incidentally, following Everton's home defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, Pulis and his men are now the only side to be unbeaten at home. However, their away record is what is important here... and it is not particularly great. They've only lost three of nine games but it is the fact they've only scored seven goals in that period (two in the last five) which will worry Pulis.
City have found the back of the net 22 times in home games, meaning Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross will likely have a busy evening.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W L W W L
- Last Match: Norwich City 3 - 4 Manchester City
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D W D D D
- Last Match: Stoke City3 - 3 Southampton
City will be without French playmaker Samir Nasri, who begins his three-match suspension for the red card against the Canaries. England midfielder James Milner will likely replace the ex-Arsenal man. Jack Rodwell, the troubled summer signing from Everton, continues to be unavailable and he is joined by right backs Micah Richards and Maicon and Serbian left back Aleksandr Kolarov on the injured list.
Italy striker Mario Balotelli is believed to have recovered from his illness but ongoing discussions over his future at the Etihad, coupled with the form of Sergio Agüero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko means he is unlikely to feature in this match.
Probable Line-Up: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Milner, Garcia, Y Toure, Barry; Dzeko, Agüero
Long-throw specialist Rory Delap and Marc Wilson are both definitely unavailable for this match. Steven N'Zonzi was to serve a three match suspension for a red card of his own but that has now been overturned, meaning the Frenchman will likely slot in alongside Glen Whelan in midfield. Geoff Cameron and Shawcross will both return after serving one-match bans for five yellow cards. Huth and Andy Wilkinson were involved in a clash of heads in the game against Southampton but both are likely to be ready for this fixture. Former Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam is also back in contention, after the death of his father last month.
Probable Line-Up: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson; N'Zonzi, Whelan; Jerome, Etherington, Walters; Jones