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Stoke v Manchester City preview


We take our four match unbeaten run down the M6 tomorrow to face a Stoke side who are attempting to arrest a winless streak that has seen them fail to win in nine games, including the last four at home.

Stoke's home form has been their saving grace this season, with their early season helping them stay on the fringes of the drop zone but they are in real danger of getting caught up in a relegation battle if they cannot halt their recent poor run of results.

Team wise, both Shaun Wright-Phillips and Pablo Zabaleta are set to undergo late fitness tests, but should they come through succesfully it is almost certain that Mark Hughes will stick with the side that defeated Newcastle 2-1 in midweek with no new arrivals expected in time for the game.

Stoke (from): Sorensen, Griffin, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Sonko, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Delap, Amdy Faye, Whelan, Etherington, Beattie, Fuller, Cresswell, Simonsen, Kitson, Pugh, Olofinjana, Tonge.

Man City (from): Hart, Schmeichel, Zabaleta, Ohuoha, Richards, Bridge, Ball, Garrido, Ben Haim, Wright-Phillips, Kompany, Fernandes, De Jong, Elano, Ireland, Robinho, Bellamy, Jo, Vassell, Caicedo.

Much has been of Stoke's approach this season but I do feel Hughes has assembled a solid looking side and graft as well as guile has been evident in our past two victories so I don't see us likely being muscled out of the game.

Although our form has picked up of late, we are still struggling away from home but with our tails up and an eye on seventh position, I'll back our extra quality to ensure we take all three points from this one.

Some game notes:

Our Premier League games have produced 72 goals (41 for, 31 against); only those involving Hull have yielded more (73).
We have now gone 29 games without a no score draw.
Stoke have yet to beat a North-West club in the Premier League after nine attempts; failed to score in the last seven.