THE POTTERS’ hectic Premier League festive schedule is wrapped up with the ultimate challenge on New Year’s Day… as they make the short trip north to take on Champions Manchester City.
City’s ten-game unbeaten record will face its stiffest test against Roberto Mancini’s men, who despite looking less convincing than they did in last year’s title-winning campaign, remain a formidable force at the Etihad Stadium, where they have only lost once this term in the league.
Stoke will be hoping that 2013 can go some way to matching 2012’s exploits, and a point or more from this fixture will get Tony Pulis’ side off on a great footing.
The fixture has certainly made headlines in recent years, with the two teams meeting in the 2011 FA Cup Final, as well being the match in which Peter Crouch scored his wonder goal in the Premier League last year.
Games at the Etihad have been slightly more one-sided, with Manchester City winning every league meeting since Stoke’s return to the top flight in 2008, although the Potters did manage to earn a draw there in the FA Cup in February 2010.
Manchester City Factfile
Full name: Manchester City Football Club
Stadium: Etihad Stadium
Owner: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Chairman: Khaldoon Al Mubarek
Manager: Roberto Mancini
2011/12: Premier League (1st), FA Cup (Third Round), League Cup (Semi-Final), Community Shield (runners-up), Champions League (Group Stage), Europa League (Round of 16).
Record transfer fee paid: £35m for Sergio Aguero to Atletico Madrid, August 2011.
Record transfer fee received: £21m for Shaun Wright-Phillips from Chelsea, July 2005.
In Profile – Roberto Mancini
Stoke City have featured in some of the key moments which have led to Roberto Mancini establishing Manchester City as a major force in English football.
The charismatic Italian celebrated his first victory as City boss in a Boxing Day meeting with the Potters in December 2009, just days after succeeding Mark Hughes, while his first trophy meant that our hopes of
FA Cup glory ended in bitter disappointment last year.
Mancini has, of course, scaled even greater heights since then by guiding the richest club in the world to the prize they wanted most of all, the Barclays Premier League title, which was secured in the most dramatic of circumstances on the final day of last season.
That ended a 44-year wait for the club to be crowned champions and it justified the faith that was shown in his ability as they turned to someone whose brief time in management had already delivered a considerable amount of success back home in Italy.
A glittering spell in charge of Inter Milan saw him claim three consecutive Serie A titles and two Italian Cups while winning almost 62% of his 226 matches in charge.
Mancini enjoyed considerable success as a player in a career spanning 20 years, winning 36 senior caps for Italy while also earning a number of domestic honours in more than 700 appearances for three clubs, Bologna, Sampdoria and Lazio.
The final days of his playing career saw him turn out briefly for Leicester City during a loan spell in the East Midlands before he gained his initial managerial experience with Fiorentina and Lazio which led to him taking over the reins at Inter Milan.
West Bromwich Albion v Fulham (12:45)
MANCHESTER CITY v STOKE CITY
Swansea City v Aston Villa
Tottenham Hotspur v Reading
West Ham United v Norwich City
Wigan Athletic v Manchester United
Southampton v Arsenal (17:30)
Chelsea v Queens Park Rangers (Wednesday, 19:45)
Liverpool v Sunderland (Wednesday, 19:45)
Newcastle United v Everton (Wednesday, 20:00)
All games kick-off at 15:00 on Tuesday unless otherwise stated.
Head to Head
League: 30 Stoke City wins; 36 Manchester City wins; 21 draws
FA Cup: 3 Stoke City wins; 4 Manchester City wins; 1 draw
League Cup: 2 Stoke City wins; 3 Manchester City wins; 1 draw
TOTAL: 35 Stoke City wins; 43 Manchester City wins; 23 draws
Last Five Encounters
Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City (Premier League) – 15/09/2012
Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City (Premier League) – 24/03/2012
Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 21/12/2011
Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City (Premier League) – 17/05/2011
Manchester City 1-0 Stoke City (FA Cup Final) – 14/05/2011
Stoke City win 10/1; Manchester City win 2/7; draw 9/2
Referee – Michael Oliver
Northumberland referee Michael Oliver makes his second trip to the Etihad Stadium of the season on New Year’s Day… in what will be his 20th match of 2012/13.
Oliver oversaw the Citizens’ 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on November 11th – a fortnight before refereeing his only game at the Britannia Stadium this term: Stoke City’s 1-0 triumph against Fulham.
His only other Potters game of the year came at Stamford Bridge back in September, when a late Ashley Cole strike to condemned Tony Pulis’ men to 1-0 loss.
Oliver’s most recent clash was on Saturday, when he officiated in Reading’s 1-0 win at West Ham United.
He has dished out 47 yellow cards this year, but just one red – to Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark in their 3-1 home defeat to Everton on August 25th.