Manchester City vs. Stoke City: Kick, claw and elbow your way to points

Paul Thomas

With Stoke's two monstrous defenders back in the fold, Manchester City might be made to seriously fight to earn a home win.

Thanks to Samir Nasri's temper, Manchester City were made to fight hard for a narrow victory over Norwich at the weekend. They're getting to the point where every dropped point is massive, as Manchester United have opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the table, and that win might have saved Roberto Mancini's job temporarily.

Stoke are on a good run of form, and did well to draw Southampton without Geoff Cameron and Ryan Shawcross, and with Steven N'zonzi picking up a very questionable red card.

Cameron and Shawcross both return for this game, while N'zonzi is available while Stoke appeal his red card. This should help Stoke considerably, though it won't alter their strategy. They're going to sit back, try to hit City on the counter and set pieces, tackle hard, see how much the referee is willing to let go, and just generally be annoying to City's talented playmakers.

Manchester City injuries and suspensions

Out: Samir Nasri (suspended), Aleksandar Kolarov (knee), Maicon (knee), Mario Balotelli (virus), Jack Rodwell (hamstring), Micah Richards (knee).

Stoke City injuries and suspensions

Out: Marc Wilson (leg), Rory Delap (hernia).

City lose a bit of creativity in Nasri's absence, but James Milner isn't inept as a passer, and he's certainly more consistent than Nasri. Balotelli's absence won't be felt too much, considering Edin Dzeko's current form. Stoke essentially have a clean bill of health, as Wilson has been out for quite some time and would struggle to win his place back from Cameron anyway, while the once very useful Rory Delap is basically just a throw-in taker at this point.

Match date/time: Tuesday, 3 p.m. GMT, 10 a.m. ET

Venue: Ethiad Stadium, Manchester, England

TV: ESPN Deportes (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)

Online: ESPN3 (U.S.)

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