Stoke should struggle to repeat Etihad shock due to defensive dearth
Three of the back four that helped Stoke City to stun Premier League champions Manchester City with a 1-0 win at the Etihad are injured for the reverse fixture, so Coral make Manuel Pellegrini’s men odds-on 8/11 favourites to avenge that loss.
Going to the well again without Potters captain Ryan Shawcross, versatile defender Marc Wilson and Dutch left back Erik Pieters is a huge ask for former City boss Mark Hughes. Punters should note, however, that the champions have one win in six across all competitions, while Stoke have suffered just one league loss in seven.
Couple this contrasting form with the fact that Ivory Coast pair Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure are not yet back from international duty where they won the Africa Cup of Nations, and the Potters have an outside shout of doing the double over City at 4/1.
It’s backing the draw which is most appealing, though, with the hosts weak in defence and visitors lacking midfield thrust. All of the last five league meetings at the Britannia have seen the spoils shared, so go with this again at 11/4.
Toure’s continued absence is unfortunate for Pellegrini, as he has netted a number of key goals in this fixture. It’s from midfield where most of City’s strikes have come from in 2015, with top scorer Sergio Aguero struggling to rediscover his form after injury.
Argentina attacker Aguero does have three goals in his last five outings against Stoke, though, so he may be worth a punt to get back on track by netting the opener here at 11/4.
Versatile James Milner, meanwhile, has played as an emergency striker when called upon, but Pellegrini will need his graft in midfield to match the Potters’ work-rate. The England international has three goals in 2015, and is 7/4 to add to that tally anytime at the Brittania.
For Stoke, Republic of Ireland forward Jon Walters hit a hat-trick last time out at home and, while this is fanciful to happen again at 50/1, he should definitely be considered in the anytime market at 11/4.
Bojan Krkic, Stephen Ireland and Marko Arnautovic are all out for the Potters, but Mame Biram Diouf has returned from international duty for Senegal. The former Manchester United forward will want to punish City again, and scored a spectacular winner at the Etihad in August.
Diouf features in a 7/1 wincast to score again anytime and Stoke beat their prestigious opponents. A repeat 1-0 result is a 16/1 shot, but a score draw of 1-1 looks the most likely outcome and is a superb 6/1.