MICHAEL KIGHTLY knows from first-hand experience the challenges visiting sides face at the Britannia Stadium . . . and has admitted his relief at making his debut as a home player instead against Arsenal this weekend!
The live televised game represents the first chance for the winger to make his bow in front of City’s fans since his summer move from Wolves, and he’s relishing becoming part of the atmosphere rather than having to combat it.
“Yeah, I definitely didn’t like playing against Stoke!” he said.
“It’s nice to be on the other side of the fence, playing for them instead. Everyone knows how hard it is to come to the Britannia Stadium and get results.
“We’re a tough team to play against and it will be no different on Sunday for Arsenal. It’s a game we feel we can definitely get something from.”
Kightly is fully aware of the quality the Gunners still possess, though, despite the sale of key men Robin van Persie and Alex Song earlier in the month.
“Some might say it’s a good time to play them after those recent departures, but they’ve still got 20 or 30 top, top players,” he added.
“They’ve got strength in depth throughout their whole squad, so I don’t think there’s ever a good time to play Arsenal really.
“They’re a massive club, one of the top sides in this division and they would give any team in Europe a game on their day. We know we need to be on top of our game to get anything this weekend.”
Kightly has found the net both times he’s pulled on a Potters shirt so far – initially with his first touch in the pre-season friendly against Greuther Furth, and then opening the scoring in last weekend’s Premier League draw Reading.
The 26-year-old is keen to carry on that run on Sunday and, if successful, it would warm him to the hearts of the Britannia Stadium faithful right away.
“I would love to get a goal in front of the home support. Everyone knows how good the Stoke fans are at home, I’m looking forward to playing in front of them and hopefully I can nick a few goals at home this year.
On the campaign ahead, Kightly added: “I want to play as many games as I can, and chip in with a few goals and a few assists. I think we can do well this season.
“If you look at the squad, it’s a very strong one. Not only can we mix it physically, but we can play good football as well. That mix is good and hopefully we can surprise a few people this year, starting Sunday.”