Manchester City will be looking to bounce back from their Champions League disappointment when they welcome Stoke City to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Manuel Pellegrini's City (17-3-5) have been imperious at home in the Premier League this season, dropping points in just one game and racking up 42 goals, but were handed a wake-up-call by Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday evening. The 2-0 defeat was sparked by a red card for Martin Demichelis for a foul on Lionel Messi on the edge of the area and City manager Pellegrini lost his cool with an out-of-character rant about the referee after the game.
"Of course I have a complaint, for the whole match I feel we didn't have a referee who was partial for both teams," said the usually mild-mannered City boss, who is now facing a UEFA investigation over his comments. "It was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in charge of such an important game.
"The referee was three meters from a foul he didn't give it and it was a foul outside the box (for Demichelis' tackle on Messi). I think it was a mistake to nominate a referee who had previously had problems with Barcelona in the past. We had the same referee and once again he made mistakes."
Mark Hughes' Stoke City (6-9-11) will know that they will be facing a fired-up City on Saturday, and will be equally concerned by their own terrible record of just one win away from home in the league all season. However, Hughes took advantage of a weekend without FA Cup football to take his players on a warm-weather training trip to Dubai in the build-up to this match and the Stoke manager is hopeful that they change of scenery will have rejuvenated his squad.
"It is a long season, and whilst we have fantastic facilities here at the training ground, I just think that sometimes a change of scenery is beneficial to everyone - especially when the weather has been as poor as it has recently," said Hughes. "The fact that we were there together as a group was good too, because you don't get that opportunity too many times during a season.
"City is a difficult game, there is no secret about that, but I have taken teams there before and acquitted ourselves well. This year we are one of very few teams to have taken points off them, and we performed exceptionally well against them in that game too, so we can take a lot of confidence from that into this game."
Manchester City have injury doubts over Vincent Kompany (hamstring), while Matija Nastasic (knee) and Sergio Aguero (hamstring) remain out. Stoke have concerns over the fitness of Oussama Assaidi (knee), Matthew Etherington (calf), Andy Wilkinson (ankle) and Robert Huth (knee).
Stoke held Man City to a goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium back in September and the Potters even managed more shots on target than Pellegrini's title contenders. However, City are unbeaten in their last nine against Stoke in all competitions and have restricted the Potters to just two goals in their last eight meetings.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester City
- Stoke City
- Manuel Pellegrini
- Lionel Messi
- Martin Demichelis
- Premier League