Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester City
- Xherdan Shaqiri could miss out for Stoke
- Stoke has not kept a clean sheet in 11 PL matches
- Sergio Aguero is the top scorer in the PL for 2016
Sergio Aguero looks to follow-up his midweek hat-trick with a visit to the Britannia, Saturday at 8:00am E.T. live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.
The Argentinian missed two early penalties in their Champions League playoff in Romania, but bounced back to score a hat-trick in the eventual 5-0 win over Seaua Bucharest. Aguero also scored in City’s 2-1 opening day win over Sunderland, and is in fine form.
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Raheem Sterling looks revitalized under new manager Pep Guardiola as well, with City’s attack off to a flying start. One man whose future is still wildly uncertain is goalkeeper Joe Hart, who will likely see the bench yet again with Guardiola favoring Willy Caballero. Hart’s future at City is shaky at best, with Claudio Bravo likely on his way in and the manager Friday saying that the England #1 could leave City if he wishes.
On the other side, Stoke managed a solid 1-1 draw on the road at pesky Middlesbrough in their opening game, but could be without midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who picked up a calf injury in training and could miss out. His absence would be a major blow, with the Swiss international having scored a delicious free-kick to pull level with Boro last weekend.
What they’re saying
Guardiola on implementing his new system: “It’s not time to change a lot because I don’t want to confuse my players but I have to say I am impressed the most that they are so intelligent. The way we played in Bucharest was a high, high level. We did it so quickly. That’s because of the intelligence and quality of the players.”
Hughes on benching of Joe Hart: “From the outside, it seems the decision was made a long time ago and I’m sure they had discussions on all aspects of their team moving forward. [A goalkeeper’s distribution] is an important factor, but you have to keep the ball out of the back of the net as well and that’s quite important when you’re talking about the goalkeeping position.”
Five of the last seven meetings between these two clubs have ended in a draw, but with City playing so well to start the season and the potential miss of Shaqiri, the most likely outcome is a visiting win. Stoke’s quiet transfer window has been disappointing, and they lack quality in certain areas to match Pep Guardiola’s energy and perseverance. A fun 3-1 scoreline is what we forsee here.