The final match of the Premier League weekend allows us to see the leaders in action when Manchester City make the trip to strugglers Stoke City in the latest version of the Monday Night Football.
Manchester City can move a step closer to winning the title if they can pick up the victory in this match but they will be made to work hard for it by a Stoke City side who are scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table.
Although their league position doesn’t say so, Stoke have actually gone along alright since Paul Lambert took charge. They have only lost once in that time which came at Bournemouth in a match they were in complete control of for much of it but their Achilles heel has been a large number of draws which haven’t been too much use to them.
This is a bonus match for Stoke in many ways as few sides have got anything out of City this season so nobody can expect them to, but if they can find a way to win they would move out of the bottom three which has to be a huge motivation for them heading into the match. I think even Stoke fans will accept that will be easier said than done however.
The league leaders know that they are now just four wins away from being crowned champions once again and they are heavy favourites to pick up one of those here. City have been tremendous this season and the fact they already have one trophy in their cabinet combined with the fact they near enough have the league sewn up means they can play with even more freedom.
Pep Guardiola could be keen on his side wrapping up the title as quickly as possible so that all attention can then turn on a real tilt at the Champions League. With that in mind he is likely to send his players out to be ruthless here although he won’t need much reminding of the potential pitfalls that await him on a Monday night after Wigan knocked his side out of the FA Cup on a Monday recently.
Stoke are expecting to be without Mame Biram Diouf but they are hoping to have Kevin Wimmer and Saido Berahino back for the contest. Stephen Ireland and Lee Grant are out with long-term injuries.
Man City will have to do without Sergio Aguero as the striker confirmed on twitter on Sunday that he is out for a couple of weeks. Gabriel Jesus is set to replace him. Fernandinho, Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling could all return to the side.
Stoke have been much more competitive in recent times but you would have to say they have faced nothing of any significance quality wise but they certainly do here. Generally when the Potters have been beaten this season they have been well beat and I suspect that might be the fate they suffer here.
I think we’ve seen with his selections and his reactions in recent matches that Guardiola is not in the mood to go easy on anyone right now and with his side just four wins from being crowned champions I’m not expecting that to change here. Man City beat Stoke 7-2 earlier in the season and while I don’t see this being as emphatic I do expect another routine win for the champions elect.
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