Manchester City vs Stoke 15:00
Manchester City’s last league fixture was scheduled to be against Sunderland but this game was postponed amid safety concerns due to high winds in the North West. City will be looking to keep pace with league leaders Chelsea this weekend as former manager Mark Hughes returns to the Etihad.
City will be keen to have Sergio Aguero available as soon as possible given how deadly the Argentinean has been for the majority of the season. He’s had an excellent 35 on target attempts this season, the second highest total in the league behind Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (54) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
If asked to pick their signing of the season so far, no doubt many City fans would be voting for Fernandinho. Although signed primarily as another attacking force in midfield, the Brazilian has shown himself equally adept at playing a more defensive foil to Yaya Toure, as well as emergency cover at centre-back. It’s no surprise therefore to see he’s not shy when it comes to his tackling, as in the City squad only Pablo Zabaleta has committed to more than him this season (107 compared to 103).
When it comes to City’s defensive supremo however, no one catch touch Vincent Kompany. The City captain currently holds the best tackle success rate in the squad for anyone who has more than 40 challenges (73.3%), as well as the highest number of total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, tackles won, interceptions) with 162.
Alvaro Negredo has adapted well to life in the Premier League, the style of play in English football clearly well suited to his own physical approach to the game. There is more to the Spaniard than just brute force though, he possesses superb technique which can trouble any defence. Indeed, he’s been on the end of so many chances that he now sits behind only Sergio Aguero (58) for total shots on goal in the City squad with 47. Negredo is an industry best 4/5 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.
Stoke drew 1-1 with Swansea last time out, Peter Crouch’s first half goal winning the Potters a point at a windy Brittania Stadium. They face a tough test this weekend against City though and will have to be at the absolute best defensively against a City team which has already scored a league-leading 68 goals and have been majestic at home for much of the season.
Erik Pieters remains one of the most effective defenders in the league this term according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Racking up some impressive statistics. He’s won the second highest number of tackles in the league this season with 94, giving him an excellent overall tackle success rate of 69.6%.
Club stalwart Ryan Shawcross continues to provide the necessary stability at the back that any team needs and has been compiling the statistics to prove it. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index he has the second highest number of blocks in the league this season with 36 to his name.
Charlie Adam might be renowned for his passing game but he certainly has more than just the offensive side to his game to offer, showcasing some strong defensive ability as well this term. He won the joint highest number of tackles in the last round with 6.
The form of Marko Arnautovic would appear to be key to Stoke’s chances of taking something away from the Etihad this weekend. The Austrian has been one of the Potters’ main creative outlets since arriving at the Brittania and has chipped in with five assists to date, a squad-high. Arnautovic is 5/1 with 888sport.com to score at any time this weekend.