AFTER a storming win in Europe earlier in the week, Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at Man City’s trip to Stoke on Saturday.
Stoke v Manchester City | Saturday 12:30 | Sky Sports 1
There’s been a clear trend in this fixture since Stoke were promoted to the Premier League in 2008 – Manchester City have found it very tough in the Potteries.
In the league City’s figures in Stoke read P8 W1 D5 L2. Lots of draws for sure, but just one win. That victory came under Manuel Pellegrini where his side romped to a 4-1 win in a cold February night in 2015. Will Guardiola make a mockery of that stat on Saturday?
The Spaniard is two matches into his reign and while they were both wins they certainly were contrasting. Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sunderland was a bit like a dress rehearsal for an opening night; bit stuttery, bit disjointed, actors (players) looking at the director (manager) for guidance.
The penny certainly dropped on Tuesday when they trashed Steaua Bucharest 5-0 in the away leg of their Champions League play-off match. Some of the football on show took City on to another level and although one has to be wary of the level of opponent it is worth remembering the Romanians knocked out Olympiakos in the previous round.
Stoke come into this fixture having drawn their opening match against Middlesbrough last Saturday. It wasn’t an inspiring performance from Mark Hughes’ side
Xherdan Shaqiri’s late goal gave Stoke a point against the newly promoted side but it was their only shot on target over the 90 minutes and Hughes must be aware improvement will be required here.
Under Hughes Stoke have been below par in the opening few games of the season. In his opening campaign in 2013/14 they won just two of their opening 11 fixtures, in 2014/15 they won one of their first five (coincidentally against Manchester City) while last season they didn’t cash in a win until Game 7.
Nothing we saw last Saturday gave the impression that the Potters were over this early season strife but in fairness it’s hard to make a call on it after just 90 minutes.
There’s no doubt they’ll make life difficult for City and it could be a challenging game for Guardiola’s players as they get to grips with the new methods in an intimidating atmosphere.
8/11 best price on Man City hardly inspires but I do think it will payout and I’ll chance a similar shout. Marathon are 5/4 on City -1 on the Asian Handicap and I’ll get involved. A one goal win means stakes are returned but anything better sees a full odds-against payout.
Stoke v Manchester City – Manchester City -1 Asian Handicap (5/4 Marathon Bet)