Stoke City welcome a rampant Manchester City to the Bet365 Stadium in what will be their first home game of the season. The Potters haven’t had the best of pre-seasons and it showed in the 1-1 stalemate against newly promoted Middlesbrough where they were clearly disjointed and a lack of cohesiveness showed in their play. The rustiness seemed to ease after the break considerably and Mark Hughes will be hoping the team is up to speed by the time the firm title contenders come calling. Stoke have been reportedly in the market for a striker and it was evident from the display against the Boro why they want to bolster their attack. With the creative flair in the form of Arnautovic, Bojan and Shaqiri a better finisher and a player able to effectively link-up with the trio is needed for Stoke to realise their full potential.
Former City boss Mark Hughes has lost six of his ten Premier League games against his former employers having won two and drawn two. But encouragingly for Stoke both those wins have come in the last two seasons pointing to a tight affair on Saturday.
Mark Hughes is expected to roll out a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
Butland is facing a race against time to be fit for the daunting showdown on Saturday but Given is more than capable of deputising for him. Bardsley will line-up at right-back with Shawcross and Wollscheid forming the centre-back pairing. Eric Pieters in expected to continue at left-back.
Imbula was the most impressive Stoke player on Saturday and will look to continue his good form. Joe Allen made an appearance from the bench and will be in line to start against the Sky Blues. Bojan will be looking to pull the strings in the No.10 role.
Arnautovic will take up his usual spot on the left-flank from where he will look to cut in and influence the proceedings. He likes the big stage and he will be up for the challenge of City. Shaqiri was Stoke’s saviour against Boro when he curled in a fantastic free-kick past Victor Valdes. He will push the uncertain City defence on the back-foot with his trickery and look to win free-kicks in and around the box. Mame Biram Diouf will lead the line on Saturday but will be under pressure to perform as the calls for a new striker grow louder.