Writer: Gavin Cooper
Date:Friday October 24 2008
City of Manchester Stadium
26th October 2008
City face a team that performed minor miracles by achieving a point away to Liverpool at Anfield a few weeks ago and will be attempting to do the same at Eastlands for their 100th League match there.
Mark Hughes talks about the threat of the Rory Delap long throw in: If you`ve got that kind of weapon in your armoury you`re going to use it. We`ll highlight it because maybe some of our guys haven`t come across that type of tactic before.
"It`s very difficult to defend in fairness, you`ve got to be really strong, mentally tough as well and demand that everybody does their jobs.
"You have to be dominant in that area and dictate to the opposition rather than let them dictate to you.
"It`s a different problem that we have to cope with but hopefully we`ll be up to that challenge and will cause them problems themselves."
"I think the keeper has a key part to play," he stated. "Most defences and teams would prefer the keeper to take responsibility come and make the ball his own.
"So we`ll be asking Joe to command his area and obviously he`ll have people in and around him to help him with that as well."
City will be hoping that their cause will be bolstered by the return to fitness of influential defender Micah Richards.
The England international suffered an ankle injury during a 2-2 draw with Newcastle on Monday, although initial fears of a break have since been eased.
Should the powerful Richards fail to recover in time to face the Potters then Nedhum Onuoha will deputise.
Injured trio Martin Petrov, Michael Johnson and Valeri Bojinov will all definitely miss out, while Pablo Zabaleta serves the second of a three-match ban for his red card against Liverpool.
The young Irishman has really stepped up to the plate in recent weeks and has found some real confidence in front of goal as well.
Stoke must decide whether to gamble on the fitness of goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen between the sticks.
The Danish keeper suffered a nasty eye injury during the 2-1 win over Spurs and, while he has been stitched up, he may be kept out of the firing line this weekend.
Meanwhile, defender Andrew Davies remains on the sidelines with a knee injury and will not feature.
Liam Lawrence is also still out of action as he continues his recovery from a sprained ankle sustained tripping over his dog.
Despite missing a penalty against Tottenham, Ricardo Fuller may be restored to the starting line-up as Stoke look for a physical presence up front, while Ryan Shawcross is expected to deputise for the injured Ibrahima Sonko at the heart of the defence.
The Jamaican international is the player with all the talent in Stoke's team despite all the who-ha over Rory Delap and his long throw ins.
City have had a reasonable record with Stoke on the pitch in recent years; doing the double over them the lat time the two teams met in the 1998/9 season when both teams were in the third tier of football.
The last time the two teams faced each other was a match around christmas in 1998 where a late winner from Gareth Taylor saw a big turnaround in City's season; City will be looking for a similar outcome.
Steve Tanner - this will be his first ever City match that Steve has referee'd and so I cannot pass judgement over him as a City fan; however I did see him in the Plymouth Stoke game last season and he sent off Russell Hoult late on for Stoke for a challenge and so he is not affraid of controversial decisions.
Stoke will come to City will all their physical presence but I think that Mark Hughes has to show us that the team is committed to winning games and I think he will do that. MCFC 3 - 0 SCFC.
Middlesbrough away in the premier league on the 29th October with a 7:45pm kick off.
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Date:Friday October 24 2008
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