Manchester City travel to the Bet365 Stadium where they face off against quietly confident Stoke City. The Sky Blues have won both their matches thus far but in a contrasting manner to each other. While they were scrappy in their win against resilient Sunderland, where they had to rely on a late own-goal to fetch them 3 points, they absolutely dismantled the Romanian side Steaua Bucharest 5-0 in midweek. Pep is working overtime with his players to inculcate his new strategies and is looking to change the mentality of the players. Stoke, on the other, hand haven’t had a great start to the summer as they won 1 of their pre-season fixtures and the form was evident in their display against Middlesbrough as they plodded to a 1-1 draw courtesy of a brilliant Shaqiri free-kick.
Let’s have a look at the 3 key battles in the match between Mark Hughes’s former and present employers.
KUN AGUERO VS RYAN SHAWCROSS
Manchester City’s Golden Boy. The irrepressible Argentine has been a revelation ever since he joined City and even after all the injuries, has been the best striker in the league by far in the last couple of seasons. He has scored 6 goals in the last 6 games against Stoke and with a hat-trick in midweek, not many will bet against him scoring again. Shawcross was immense a couple of seasons back and though injuries have hampered his career to an extent, he is once again a key component in the Potter’s backline. He will look to get stuck into Aguero from the very outset and try to limit his influence on the game.
ERIC PIETERS VS RAHEEM STERLING
The much maligned English winger has flown off the blocks in the new season. He was given a personal vote of confidence by Guardiola after being dropped by Roy Hodgson and seems to have got a new lease of life.
He has looked sharper, more confident and has terrorized both the full-backs he has faced till now and Pieters will be in for a tough afternoon if Raheem hits his stride.
JOHN STONES VS ARNAUTOVIC
Marko Arnautovic dominated the City defence the last time the two met at Stoke and will look to impose himself from the beginning again. But Manchester City have John Stones this time around and the young Englishman will give as much as he gets. It will be interesting to witness the battle when the big-money signing comes up against the likes of Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnautovic and it will be a first real test of his quality and character.